Notes from the Field: Hue, Vietnam
Lawrence Jenkins, II, M.D.  Dr. Jenkins, an IVUmed resident scholar, volunteered with our general urology workshop in Hue, Vietnam on March 10-22, 2014. These are selections from his field notes:

 

Notes from the Field

Lawrence Jenkins, II, M.D.:

Day 1

I arrived in Hue after 23 hours of flight time. I really did not know what to expect, so everything was new. The first thing that was very apparent was that I was at least six inches taller than everybody else and people would often stare at me. I arrived just before noon and we traveled to meet up with the rest of the American group, Drs. Lance Hampton and Albert Petrossian from Virginia Commonwealth University, who were already at the hospital. There were no surgeries scheduled for the afternoon when I arrived so we decided to do some sightseeing. We went to see the Citadel and Imperial palace.

 

citadel

 

Day 2

We went to the morning conference where there were approximately 6 Vietnamese attendings and residents but 10-30 medical students. The small room rarely made use of the air conditioning unit so it was often very hot and humid. We went to surgery that day… That was my first time seeing open surgery to remove large kidney stones. I was more accustomed to seeing this performed through percutaneous methods. It was very interesting to see this performed, especially through the small incision that they used. The operating rooms did not come with many extra features but luckily they did have air conditioning. Sadly, the scrub uniforms only came in one size and did not come close to fitting me but I luckily brought my own scrubs to wear. It was also interesting to see that most people wore sandals in the operating room and were otherwise barefoot. After the day of surgeries, we went exploring in the neighborhood by the hospital. We found a market which sold everything you could possibly need, from meat and spices to clothing and shoes. The merchants were very ambitious to make sales and negotiate over prices.

 

Day 3

We prepared for a laparoscopic cystectomy, a procedure which none of us had a great amount of experience with. We knew it would be challenging without the equipment we were used to in our institutions. The Vietnamese team was able to guide us through the procedure while utilizing multiple brands and types of tools to make up for what we were used to. The biggest difference was not having an energy-based device for vessel sealing i.e. Ligasure or Harmonic scalpel…  That evening we met up with some international medical students (one from New Zealand, two from Germany, and one from Belgium) and talked about medical training in the different parts of the world. One does not often hear what happens elsewhere.

 

Day 4

We went to morning conference and Dr. Petrossian gave a talk to the urology staff and medical students. After, they gave us a tour of the inpatient ward where they also housed preoperative patients. It was not the most comfortable establishment. There were at least 4 patients to a room and often of mixed gender. The beds were wooden cots with a half inch cloth pad on top. Some people looked worse than others but many were chatting with their roommates. Later in the day, we walked around the city and went to a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show which was entertaining.

 

Enjoy the second section of Dr. Lawrence’s field notes in our next blog post!

 

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