Gain exposure in a busy
hospital setting in

Assist with the 4,000 daily patients

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

Vietnam Medical Experience

Are you looking to gain medical experience in a busy hospital setting in the centre of Hanoi? We have partnered with the leading hospital in the capital, the Vietnam National Children’s Hospital. Established in 1969, the hospital serves a population of over 30 million people across central and Northern Vietnam.

You will gain a first-hand insight into the Vietnamese health care system, where you will be able to learn from local professionals within the leading paediatric hospital in the country.

If you are thinking of a career in healthcare or are currently studying a health-related subject at university, the Vietnam medical experience will offer you essential experience and exposure to help aid your future.


Who is it for?
Medical students
Departments available
Out-patient, physiotherapy, oncology, nephrology, endocrinology, haematology, cardiology, gastroenterology, surgery, neonatology, intensive care, accident and emergency, infectious diseases, psychiatry, anaesthesiology, surgical recovery and neurology.
Elective placements
Medical, nursing and physiotherapy
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 Hanoi, 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?

Vietnam National Children’s Hospital (VNCH) - The VNCH is Vietnam's leading paediatric hospital, serving a population of 30 million people across the central and northern regions of Vietnam. Established in 1969, this busy hospital currently has 1,500 beds and organises services for 1,500 inpatients and between 3,000 and 4,000 outpatients every single day. With so many patients passing through the hospital, you will be exposed to a wide variety of illnesses making it the perfect setting to gain vital first-hand experience of the healthcare system in a developing country.

As the hospital collaborates with the Medical University of Hanoi, they also train local medical students, specialists, general practitioners and more. Set up as a major teaching hospital, you and other international volunteers will gain the most possible from your placement and will learn so much from your time in Vietnam.

What is my role?

During your time on the 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 can help out in simple but practical ways, vastly increasing your own knowledge and understanding of medical practice. You may have the opportunity to partake in some or all of the following:

  • Participate in bedside interactive teaching sessions, ward rounds, ward classes and small group discussions
  • Attend casualty nights to observe acute case management
  • Attend lectures/seminars/symposia
  • Visit clinics and intensive care units
  • Observe surgeries in the operation theatre
  • Visit units such as endoscopy
  • Visit the blood bank and outpatient department
  • Attend regular clinical meetings

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.

During your time at the hospital you may be able to gain exposure in the following areas; out-patient examination, physiotherapy rehabilitation, respiratory diseases, malnutrition, oncology, nephrology, endocrinology, haematology, cardiology, gastroenterology, surgery, neonatology, intensive care, emergency, infectious diseases, psychiatry, anaesthesiology, surgical recovery and neurology.

Our Vietnam medical experience welcomes people from all backgrounds. So if you have just left school and are looking for experience to boost your university application (pre-med) or are currently a university student organising an elective placement overseas - this is the perfect programme for you.

We are able to offer a more specific programme for medical and nursing students 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 8am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday, with an extended lunch break.

The hospital is located around 40 minutes from the volunteer accommodation and the transport costs are included within the programme fee. You will make use of the capital's excellent public bus network where you will either be provided with a bus pass in-country or reimbursed your travel fares on a regular basis.

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 Hanoi - especially The Old Quarter.

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 Hanoi. This peaceful and friendly neighbourhood is the perfect base camp for volunteering and exploring everything Northern Vietnam has to offer. You'll have plenty of opportunities to explore the capital at your leisure. Whether you want to have a gentle stroll down to the market, try some mouthwatering street food or are after a more lively atmosphere in the Old Quarter, then Hanoi has it all!

Being the capital, there are great transport links to allow you to explore everything Vietnam has to offer. If you wish to go on an overnight cruise around Ha Long Bay, spend your days trekking through Sapa or relax on the golden sandy beaches along the Eastern coast then everything is easily reachable.

Other things to consider

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.

Trained Professionals – Please note that our medical experience in Vietnam is not suitable for trained professionals who are looking to practise overseas. This opportunity is only available to school leavers and medicine students who are looking to go into the medical or nursing field.

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.

Volunteering in Hanoi

I chose to take my medical elective placement in Hanoi, Vietnam and I am so glad I did! Spending 4 weeks in the National Children's 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 ti... Read More

Alexa SmithDecember 2019