Gain exposure in a busy
hospital setting in

Assist with the thousands of daily patients

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  • Duration
    2-8 weeks
  • Minimum age
  • Start dates
    1st & 3rd Saturday
  • From
  • Duration
    2-8 weeks
  • Minimum age
  • Start dates
    1st & 3rd Saturday
  • From

Vietnam Medical Experience

Are you looking to gain medical experience in a busy hospital setting while having the chance to explore a new and exciting destination? We work with several hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City where you will be able to get a diverse and first hand experience of what the medical facilities look like in Vietnam.

By following and observing local medical professionals, you will be able to learn how diagnosis and treatment processes differ to your home country and also understand the large restraints the healthcare system faces in a developing country – with severe overcrowding, long wait times and simply not enough resources to provide adequate care to everyone that needs it.

If you are currently studying a related healthcare or medical course at university, then taking your elective abroad to Vietnam will provide an in-depth and unique experience. 


Who is it for?
Medical students
Departments available
In patient and Outpatient Departments, Paediatrics, Emergency Department, Nursing Room, Physiotherapy, ENT Departments, Pharmacy, Traditional Medicine, Surgery, General Medicine, Laboratory, Ophthalmology, Imagery Diagnostics, Anaesthesia, Family Doctor Clinic
Elective placements
Medical, Nursing, Midwifery, Physiotherapy & more
Background to the medical programme

Thanks to the recent economic developments and the political reforms back in 1986, the health care system in Vietnam has seen some significant improvements. With more hospitals built and more focus being provided on the quality of care, there has been an increase in life expectancies at birth and also a decrease in infant mortality rates.

However, despite these advances, there still remains problems. As things stand, there is a severe shortage of trained staff, with on average just 8 physicians per 10,000 patients. When compared to the United Kingdom in the same period, there is an average of 28 physicians and the statistics for Vietnam are also significantly lower when compared to other countries across South East Asia. This has resulted in too many patients for the medical facilities provided and is an ever-increasing problem in the country.

During your time in Vietnam, you will be placed within a busy hospital in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City where you will have a fantastic opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the health care system in a developing country. You will be exposed to a variety of interesting cases and different processes and techniques that will increase your knowledge and background within this field.

Where will I be volunteering?

Phu Nhuan District Hospital The hospital was established in 2007 with the direction and leadership of the District Part Committee, People’s Council and the Department of Health.

Being a district hospital, Phu Nhuan is responsible for providing general and emergency care to a wide area and a large population, so you will come across many patients each and every day.

Within the hospital there are 100 inpatient beds, 30 outpatient tables and there are around 200 staff members made up of doctors, nurses, technicians and clerical staff.

The hospital has over 13 departments and can handle a wide variety of illnesses. Whilst volunteering at the hospital you may be able to be placed in the following departments / specialities; in patient and outpatient departments, paediatrics, emergency department, nursing room, obstetrics & gynaecology, physiotherapy, ENT departments, pharmacy, traditional medicine, surgery, general medicine, laboratory, ophthalmology, imagery diagnostics, anaesthesia, family doctor clinic and more.

The hospital is cramped and under-resourced, with overcrowding, long wait times and many people having to sleep outside on the road as they wait or look after loved ones. However, there are slow improvements in the infrastructure, machinery and treatment provided.

Orthopaedics Trauma and Rehabilitation Hospital – The hospital was opened in 1979 and is owned and operated by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs of Vietnam. The hospital provides rehabilitation treatment to children and adults who have usually been referred to here from other hospitals.

The hospital has many departments and wards that you can be placed in, including; medical examination, diagnosis, treatment, orthopaedic & trauma surgery, rehabilitation campaigns for people with meritorious services or persons with disabilities, accident victim labour, occupational diseases and more.

The hospital also provides different kinds of treatment for disabled children, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. On top of this, the hospital also product artificial limbs, orthopaedic devices, semi-finished products, and other means of assistance.

What is my role?

During your time on your placement you will get to shadow and assist the professional medical staff where you will get an unparalleled experience. You will be involved in the day-to-day activities of the hospital, observing the doctors and nurses where you may be able to help out in simple but practical ways, vastly increasing your own knowledge and understanding of medical practice.

With an extensive list of departments, you will have the opportunity to witness a variety of cases that are a large contrast to what you may find in your local hospital at home. Whilst volunteering in Vietnam, you may come across several diseases, illnesses and defects not normally found in the United Kingdom. These can include health defects consequent of Agent Orange, tuberculosis, respiratory infection, malnutrition and tropical diseases.

We are able to offer a more specific programme for medical, midwifery and nursing students along with other courses who are looking to take part in an overseas elective. We are able to tailor the programme to provide you with a unique experience that will meet all of your requirements and maximise your time abroad. Our UK and local teams are able to complete any necessary paperwork for your university or other scheme.

At the hospital, you will have the opportunity to be placed across several departments so that you can receive a broad overview (a full list can be found above). Our local team will do their best to match any specific requirements, but this cannot always be guaranteed. We recommend a mixed timetable in order to experience many different hospital settings.

What will a typical day look like?

Your varied role and ever-changing scenarios within this busy hospital will ensure no two days are the same! You will typically be within the hospital from 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday, with an extended lunch break generally between 11:00am and 1:00pm.

The majority of placements are located within a 10 to 20 minute bus or taxi ride away. You can either make use of the city's excellent public bus network or go by private taxi, with costs being split between all volunteers travelling.

At the end of every day, volunteers from all programmes meet back at the accommodation to have a delicious meal or head out and explore Ho Chi Minh City.

Where will I be staying?

While volunteering in Vietnam, you will be staying within our dedicated volunteer accommodation located just outside of the centre of Ho Chi Minh City. This peaceful and friendly neighbourhood is the perfect base for volunteering and exploring everything Southern Vietnam has to offer. The street is generally reserved for officials and as the road is separate from the main road, so there is not a lot traffic or noise – which is very common in Vietnam.

You'll have plenty of opportunities to explore the city at your leisure. Whether you want to have a gentle stroll down to the market, try some mouth-watering street food or are after a more lively atmosphere in the touristy areas, then Ho Chi Minh City has it all!

Other things to consider

University Students Only - Our Vietnam medical experience welcomes people who are currently studying something relevant at university and are looking to undertake their elective placement. I'm afraid we are unable to host trained professionals or anyone who is not currently studying something relevant.

Level of involvement - Although your role at the hospitals is largely observational, the majority of volunteers are assigned basic hands-on tasks such as taking blood pressure and blood sugar levels, dressing wounds, administering IV injections, recording temperatures and more. Please note we cannot guarantee your level of involvement and this will be at the sole discretion of your supervisor in-country.

Weekends and free time - You will have every weekend off from volunteering and this is the perfect time to explore everything this beautiful country has to offer. You are more than welcome to simply relax around the accommodation and enjoy all of the amenities and attractions the capital has to offer, but most volunteers will use this time to travel and see the country. Further down this page you will come across many suggestions and ideas on where you could go. Alternatively, if you are looking to see as much of the country as possible during this time, travel with other volunteers and be accompanied by one of our local team members, then you may be interested in one or more of the organised weekend trips we run.

Best decision I’ve ever made

First I didn’t know what to expect before I decided to come to Vietnam. But when I arrived here I didn’t want to leave! Minh, Tran and miss cook and another staff are incredibly kind. They are amazing. Foods, accommodation and the environment are great. Highly recommend. I will definitely go ... Read More

Tipanan NaklamthongSeptember 2023

Amazing experience

Amazing experience!

Thank you to Minh and Tran and all the Outreach Team who were very friendly and helpful from the beginning. They were checking we were ok on a daily basis and always offering support when needed. We also had an induction which included a basic Vietnamese teaching session... Read More

Ilaria CosciaSeptember 2023

Medical elective - Vietnam

I did the medical elective in Vietnam and The Outreach team in Vietnam were amazing. Minh, Miss Tran and their team were so lovely and accommodating. The in-house cook is so lovely and her food was amazing. The medical volunteer house is basic but clean and the rooms have air con! Placement days ... Read More

Abbie EvansSeptember 2023

Medical Elective Vietnam

Overall it was a great service, they made everything easy and were very helpful. They removed a lot of the admin for us, and provided a detailed handbook for us to read before we began our trip. When we arrived we were greeted by the local team who were lovely and looked after us throughout the e... Read More

JC MearnsJuly 2023

TMR Medical Elective Vietnam

Amazing experience with the TMR in Vietnam. Accommodation was clean with an in house cook taking care of lunch and dinner each day. The staff were incredibly organised. We have met and made plenty of great new friends and loved every minute of our time here. 

George AndrewJuly 2023

Volunteering in Vietnam

I chose to take my medical elective placement in Vietnam and I am so glad I did! Spending 4 weeks in the Hospital was an eye-opening experience and I got to see and learn about many other procedures and problems as compared to back home in England. During our free time we were able to travel to H... Read More

Alexa SmithDecember 2019

Volunteering on my gap year in Vietnam & Bali

  • January 2024
As a part of my gap year, I travelled to Vietnam and Bali. It was one of the best experiences, I met so many new people, learnt so much and would 100% recommend it to anyone! My journey started in Vietnam, where I was able to help within the children's disabled centre for 2 weeks. My next destination was Bali, which involved exploring for 10 days as a group , then 2 weeks volunteering. Overall, it was a trip of a lifetime! I got to experience different cultures in Vietnam and Bali whilst having the opportunity to help.

Hardeep's story