Community Health Education has always been one of ETA’s main focuses. We take pride in our commitment to and good relationships with partner communities and hospitals, which provide meaningful and memorable experiences for faculty-led university groups interested in health care and medical services.
In 2016 we welcomed two midwifery student groups from Australia to the Mekong Delta of Southern Vietnam for a 2-week placement program. Our ongoing partnership with Vinh Long General Hospital, meant students had chance to experience working in an obstetrics department in an environment very different from their home country. Equipment or techniques at Vinh Long are more traditional than modern and many mothers and soon-to-be mothers come through with limited awareness about obstetrics and newborn care.
Students gained hands-on experience by shadowing and assisting in all divisions- The Labor Room, X-Ray Room and Post-Natal Room- under close supervision of the leading faculty, together with local doctors and nurses.
With great support from the hospital management board, the groups were able to organize open workshops about breastfeeding, post-partum care and newborn nutrition for new mothers and all women at the hospital. Local hospital staff and the team of translators actively facilitated the sessions and many participants shared with us the excitement and appreciation for what they learned from the workshops.
Being a co-curricular program, this educational experience is not only a great chance for professional advancement but also cultural exchange. After work and at weekends, the groups had time for excursions through the Mekong Delta – the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam – observing the lives of hospitable Mekong locals. Many students kept telling us that they’d come back for the food, which is amongst the best in the country!
The 2-week learning journey took midwifery students to one of the most culturally rich regions of Vietnam while exposing them to obstetric care in a whole new setting, challenging them and developing their professional skills. Beyond that, this unique practical opportunity broadened the students’ horizons on how their chosen career can make an impact, especially within developing communities where people cannot afford to make obstetric care a priority.