The Victorian Health Education Team is based in Melbourne. Our team provides an annual education program to the nurses and staff in the hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City.
In 2002, a group of 12 Victorian nurses travelled to Vietnam. They provided education at two hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City – a General Surgical Hospital and a Children’s Hospital. In 2003, the word spread and this time 33 nurses travelled to Ho Chi Minh City. They visited the same two hospitals, Binh Dan, Children’s No. 1, as well as a trauma hospital and a maternity hospital. They implemented the first International Nursing Conference in Ho Chi Minh City.
Annually, up to 50 healthcare professionals, including nurses, midwives, paramedics, physiotherapists, doctors, occupational therapists, dietitians, and speech pathologists, travel to Vietnam to participate in the two-week program.
Education in Vietnamese Hospitals
In contrast to hospitals in Australia, Vietnamese hospitals are huge, with many having in excess of 1000 beds. During the annual team visits, education and sharing of knowledge are done in many ways. Team members present various topics at conferences and seminars held at various hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City. Traditionally at the nursing conferences, it was the Australian Vietnam Volunteer Resource Group team members presenting the lectures. However, in the last few years, Vietnamese nurses have also been presenting lectures. In more recent years, the team has presented seminars in the hospitals during our visits. Seminar topics have included trauma nursing, infection control, burns care, Australasian triage system, spinal trauma, pediatric update, deteriorating patient, and stroke management.
With many skills within the healthcare setting, it is not only the theory that is important to learn; it is essential to be able to practice the skills learned to fully understand them. Interactive workshop sessions prove to be much more interactive and fun for both the team members and the participants.
In providing support and education, the Victorian Health Education Team is often surprised that even with considerable limitations (by Australian standards), the Vietnamese health providers manage to perform detailed and complex procedures. In between the seminars and conferences held in the hospitals, team members spend time in the clinical settings in the various hospitals. There are many in-service sessions given in the ward areas.
Since 2010, in appreciation of our continued collaboration, seven team members have been honoured with Ho Chi Minh City Service Medals. This indicates to us that the hospitals value the knowledge and education we bring. In 2021, one of the team members, Jacqueline Wright, was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her services to International Health for over 15 years of participation in the team.
Because of Covid, our team has been unable to provide our annual program. Our committee has been busy discussing where our resources would be more beneficial in Vietnam. Over the last few years, many of the hospitals we visited in Ho Chi Minh City have been well-resourced. Our team has decided to offer our expertise to smaller, rural hospitals, as their staff do not have the same access to education. In 2023, we are excited to be offering an educational program to the staff at Vung Tau Hospital and surrounding hospitals.