Beyond Medicine: The Value of a Global Health Experience

Written by Billy Tran, '17


I believe the value of a global health experience is more than in learning medicine.At the level of a medical student it is a challenge to make any significant contribution to medical care. We are lost enough in hospitals in the United States, and . the addition of a language barrier makes it more difficult to learn and assist. The real value of a global health experience is in seeing and living in a completely different culture and healthcare system. Opening our eyes and expanding our perspective on how people live in a different country aids in our development both personally and professionally.

The Success of a Medical Collective

Written by Dr. Long H. Tran, J1 Scholar from Vietnam


I am grateful to have experienced and felt true American life. The organization arranged a very nice house for us close to the hospital with a nice friend from the Dominican Republic with whom we shared and exchanged our cultures. I had a warm dinner with Miss Laurie’s family for Thankgiving, a New Year party at Dr. Winter’s home, and a meeting night with international friends at Dr. Sadigh’s home. Everyone was always beside us to help, to share, and to teach. We traveled to some famous places and saw many things. I not only learned about the English language, but also about culture and communication skills, thereby gaining a greater understanding of Americans and of the United States.

Contributing a Little More Every Day

Written by Carl Nunziato, '17


I would identify most of my third year of medical school as a time when I felt helpless, without any meaningful way to contribute to patient care. While I recognized that I was early in my medical education and needed time to effectively develop my clinical skills, I often felt like a burden even though the residents and attending never treated me as such.

Culture As Construct: Looking Forward to a Global Health Elective in Vietnam

Written by Elizabeth O'Neill, '20


Our view of culture is essentially a construct that differs both within and among communities, as its manifestation in traditions and customs impacts people in varied ways. I chose to attend the UVM Larner College of Medicine largely because I believe in the institution’s mission and vision to promote high-value, inclusive care to people of all cultures, both locally and globally. Direct experience with clinical practice embedded within different societies is necessary to develop into a socially responsible, culturally competent physician - qualities I strive to embody as a medical student and beyond.

Experiencing American Life

Written by Hai Long, Global Health Scholar from Vietnam


I had many hopes for my time in the United States. I wanted to see the way medical teams work, and the roles and responsibilities of everyone in the organization, including management, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and sanitation workers, as health professionals include not only those directly involved in medical care but also those working for infection control of the community. I was also looking forward to learning about medical machines and new clinical techniques. Finally, I was hoping to improve my English language skills. Fortunately, I can say that all these hopes have been met, although English is still a challenge despite the improvements I have made.

The Urban Hospital Serving the Underprivileged in Vietnam

Written by Dr. Stephen Scholand, Site Director at Cho Ray Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Global Health Program


The global health clinical experience in Southeast Asia is largely centered on Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. Cho Ray Hospital, a massive urban hospital serving the underprivileged in Vietnam, has a bed capacity exceeding three-thousand. Almost all the major branches of medical care are represented. Because of the high incidence of traffic, mainly motorcyle, accidents in the city, a significant proportion of the inpatient population is orthopaedic. The hospital also boasts very busy Emergency Medicine and Critical Care services. In fact, the volume of patients is so high that Intensive Care Units are found on a number of medical wards.

I Could Not Stop Watching Him

Written by Anonymous


Being on the Infectious Disease/Tropical Medicine unit has been pretty wild. Since we have already taken a class on infections (Attacks and Defenses), I feel like I have more of a learning base for this compared to cardiology. It is also less hectic and crowded compared to cardiology, so we have more time and space to perform assessments and discuss patient cases. Our attending is very soft spoken, but knowledgeable and helpful.

Upon Return: Thrown Into A Different World

Written by Florence DiBiase, '19


It is strange to think I’ve been back in the United States for a week now. I feel like I just left Ho Chi Minh City. We arrived fairly uneventfully back in New York late on Friday. It was strange leaving Jayne and Julia, as we have been pretty much inseparable for six weeks. I am so happy we melded so well as group and I hope we continue to work together in global health.

A Mind Stretched By New Experience

Written by Florence DiBiase, '17


“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
As I pass the halfway point in our elective at Cho Ray Hospital, this quote is starting to ring true for me. I feel so comfortable here in Ho Chi Minh city, and medical school back in Vermont feels like the distant past rather than a mere month ago. After so many months in the classroom this experience, while certainly not easy, is reviving my excitement and commitment to becoming an influential physician.

Medicine as Jackson Pollock

Written by Julia Cowenhoven, '19 Vietnam You often hear people say that medicine is more art than science. I am starting to realize that when they say art, they do not mean Michelangelo; they mean Jackson Pollock. It is messy and chaotic. The people holding the paintbrushes have as little idea of how it’s going to turn out as you or me. When you learn about a medication, a treatment, or a procedure, you expect it to work. But in real life, how effective are these measures? What are they really doing for the patient? How much does it cost? Does it just prolong their pain? Memorizing a list of drugs and their mechanism of action, contraindications, and side effects, does not paint a picture of a sick human being with an entirely different reality.