Posts filed under ‘BỆNH VIỆN HÙNG VƯƠNG (Pham Ngoc Thach Medical University)’

Final Thoughts from Vietnam

Posted by Lisa Ryujin, MD (a third year Ob/Gyn resident from

Kaiser Permanente Oakland serving a global health elective at Benh Vien Hung Vuong Maternity hospital in Vietnam). 

When I was interviewing for residency programs, I always said that I was grateful for having many international experiences in medical school.  Of course, I learned most things in medical school, but I refined my skills and emulated those whom I admired, and most of those mentors, I met while traveling around the world.   I attributed my bedside manner to a midwife that I had worked with in Belize, I attributed my physical exam skills to an intern that I had met in Kenya while on call, and I owe my openness to a Tibetan professor and monk.  We all practice medicine differently, and we all have different cultural norms and expectations that we are expected to meet.  I understand that.  And I have loved my experience here in Vietnam.  But I have to say, that I am glad that I learned the standard of care and how to practice obstetrics and gynecology in the United States.  I understand that this may be due to my expectations as an American.  I know that we have a healthcare system that usually enables a family to stay together during labor and delivery, and to share in the miracle of birth.  I know that these are not the expectations of other people in other parts of the world.  But I am so proud that we are able to offer our patients that shared experience. 

I have had the great privilege of working with some wonderful Vietnamese teachers, who have gone out of their way to help me to understand their system, and the reasons behind their practice.  I am grateful, and I am reminded of the wonderful faculty and staff that I have in my own residency program who go out of their way to ensure that I will be the best, most caring, responsible doctor that I can be.  And I feel honored to be part of that system.

A party for my last day of work with all of the Vietnamese doctors in the call room


January 4, 2011 at 3:51 pm Leave a comment

The Can Ti (Cafeteria)


Posted by Lisa Ryujin, MD (a third year Ob/Gyn resident from Kaiser Permanente Oakland serving a global health elective at Benh Vien Hung Vuong Maternity hospital in Vietnam). 

The doctors and staff here have been extremely nice.  Every day, we walk down to the can ti (cafeteria) and have lunch together.  It is a rush of confusion, patients trying to get their meals, pushing to the front of the counter.  The doctors are able to order and sit down, they are served and pay after they have finished.  However this requires the ability to speak in the Vietnamese language. You can’t just point to the things that you want, as I have been doing in the city.

On Saturday, I was on call and since labor and delivery was so busy, I ventured down to the can ti.  How hard could it be?  It was my first experience trying to brave the system alone.  I walked in and tried to find a familiar face, anyone I could recognize.  No one.  I guess on the weekends, the staff rotates too.  I tried to go up and buy a ticket and stand in line with the patients, but couldn’t read anything on the menu, so I couldn’t order.  I tried to order, the way that I had seen Dr. Trang do it this past week, but was unsuccessful.  I tried walking up to the counter and pointing to food, but there were so many people that the person behind the counter didn’t notice me.  I was so tired from the morning of work, I couldn’t muster any more tricks, so I skipped lunch.

This story isn’t directly relevant in my practice of medicine.  However, I learned a valuable lesson, now I bring a pack of trail mix in case labor and delivery is busy.  What was amazing is the reflection of how hard it is to wake up in the morning and brave the day if you don’t speak the language.  I really admire our patients back in Oakland, who come and see me in clinic or in labor and delivery, who don’t speak English but still brave the system. They try to negotiate their care through AT&T translators, and make it work. 

This isn’t my first time in a country where I didn’t speak the language, this isn’t even my first time practicing medicine in a place where I don’t speak the language, but I have had more independence and less guidance during this trip than usual, and I think that autonomy has really forced me to appreciate the things that I don’t even appreciate on an every day basis while practicing in the US.

the can ti (cafeteria)


A morning of well babies

A morning of well babies

midwives learning to care for new babies

midwives learning to care for new babies

December 17, 2010 at 9:36 am Leave a comment

First Impressions

Posted by Lisa Ryujin, MD (a third year Ob/Gyn resident from Kaiser Permanente Oakland serving a global health elective at Benh Vien Hung Vuong Maternity hospital in Vietnam). 

The perfect harmony of traffic…

My first day at Benh Vien Hung Vuong Maternity hospital in Saigon, Vietnam. I have to say that it’s been an amazing couple of days. I flew in on Saturday at 1 am, and that day toured around the city to get familiarized with the areas near the hospital. Saigon traffic is organized chaos. It is beautiful in so many ways to watch the motorbikes dance in and out of the streets in perfect harmony. Given my awe for the motorbikes, I had to use it as my means for transportation to and from work!

Hung Vuong maternity ward is much bigger than I’m used to, 8 latent (early) labor beds, 18 delivery beds, no family allowed in the birthing areas. I even had an opportunity to go to the operating room, which are located on another floor, they have the capability (and sometimes do…) run 8 operating rooms at one time for cesarean deliveries. Midwives manage the labor course, doctors deliver the babies. There are different wards depending on your insurance, I’m floating between them all. With that many deliveries, there is no time to push with patients (which I really enjoy at Kaiser Oakland), and it feels that the patient gives birth and are immediately replaced with another laboring patient. They move them in and out of the delivery beds like magic. I feel like I’m always running…and yet I turn and watch the other doctors stroll beside me.

 I’m arranging a teaching schedule so that I can work with the medical students on standard obstetric and gynecology care. It will be fun to have a class and to practice (or learn) my Vietnamese!

 It’s been a crazy couple of days, and I have a lot to learn about practicing in such a busy environment, but at the end, I hope that I’ll just marvel at the miracle of being born.

The Hospital

Hospital waiting area

Delivery bed


Baby warmer

December 7, 2010 at 8:34 am 1 comment


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