I’m still trying to absorb and process everything from my past (and first) week at the hospital. Finally getting to meet my generous supervisor and his staff in person, I was glad to find that they were as excited to host me as I was to begin learning from them. Many doctors take this as an opportunity for them to practice the lingua franca. They teach me medical terms and procedures in exchange. This was my week in the surgery department; fortunately, I was able to see incredible operations and peak inside the astounding human body. My favorites include an operation to treat Parkinson’s in a young woman in which a machine drilled slowly and precisely into her skull and electrodes on her brain were connected to a battery in her chest, a correction of a boy’s malformed ribcage and a knee replacement (both very mechanical procedures), and the many laparoscopic surgeries UMC performs each day. Below you can see a tame picture of the knee replacement.
Besides human anatomy and pathology, I’m also discovering the problems with the Vietnamese hospital system, as told by its staff and patients. Most decent doctors and medical establishments flock to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) because, as the cultural and economic hub of the country, it provides greater opportunities for profit. In turn, patients must come to HCMC for reliable treatment – causing hospitals in an already very crowded city to overflow way past capacity. Furthermore, proper and current equipment and sufficient supplies are lacking in many hospitals. UMC is among the most well-funded and supplied in the country, but the surgeons still wish for better instruments.
Next week I’ll be in the internal medicine department, and hopefully will continue to gain new knowledge, perspectives, and friends.