Radiation Therapists Education Program

Reports: 2016 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011

2016: Radiation Oncology in Vietnam

Vu Huynh - Radiation Therapy Clinical Educator

In 2016, development in radiation oncology in Vietnam continues with the completion of the new cancer centre at Cho Ray Hospital, and the continuing progress of the building of the new Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital sites. The first Radiation Therapy course which began in 2015 continues to run its course, with the assistance and close collaboration with HCMC Oncology Hospital. In addition, Prof. Tuyet Anh who is head of the Radiation Therapy course has also developed and ran an independent education course suited for the staffs that are currently clinical and working, with great success. This course was an inspiring multidisciplinary effort with doctors, physicists and technicians all working together.

This year I was also very fortunate to be invited to talk at a number of conferences, as the global community becomes more interested in developing healthcare in low and middle income countries. The following is a recent interview from the Australian Society of Medical Imaging, about the work I have been involved in, with developing Radiation Oncology in Vietnam, as a result of an invitation to talk at the annual scientific meeting.

Speaker interview; Annual Scientific Meeting of Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy 2017 (ASMMIRT 2017), March 2017 at Perth, WA

I became involved with Radiotherapy in Vietnam in 2010, following on to coordinate workshops throughout the country in 2011 and 2012. In 2012 he moved to Vietnam to start a 12 month assignment to train radiation therapists at two of Vietnam’s busiest and largest public hospitals.

From conducting workshops in 2011-2012, to one year of volunteer assignment in 2012, my involvement in Radiation Therapy in Vietnam turned into an unexpected five years plus. Today I continue to work with locals on numerous projects, including the development of the country’s first radiotherapy course introduced in 2015 at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine and Pharmacy.

Working in a very different overburdened environment, with overcrowded hallways and waiting rooms, we aim to share how approaches to development has had to evolve, discussing a number of thought provoking lessons learnt throughout his journey.

Q. What inspired your work?
Probably curiosity at first, about radiotherapy in other parts of the world, and a bit of adventure seeking. And then when I saw radiotherapy in Vietnam for the first time, and the amount of patients, I was really drawn to act. At the start, I was also very lucky to meet and be inspired by Prof Graeme Morgan, who I have gone on to work closely with on many projects. The majority of the work simply would have not been possible without his guidance and support.

Q. What challenges have you faced in your work?
The first thing that comes to mind is how long can the answer be? Throughout my work I’ve come to see challenges as a very normal thing. Probably one of the biggest challenges I would have to say is the sheer number of patients coming through the system, and how to strategically approach development in such a setting. Sometimes part of the challenge is just to get the conversations started, as I soon came to realise that compared to back home in Australia, it was a luxury having the time to talk and have discussions about radiotherapy practices. This is where I have been really challenged to look everywhere and anywhere for ideas and inspiration. Another constant challenge is the limited amount of resources available and trying to source funding.

Q. What would you say is your biggest achievement?
I don’t really see anything as my achievements, but more the direct result of a team effort. At the start of my journey I was a bit evangelistic in my approach, sharing what I had seen at conferences and hospitals in Australia, trying to get as much people involved as possible and organising workshops all over Vietnam. But over time my energy has had to become focused on more specific longer term projects.

Some of the achievements I have been able to be a part of are sourcing funds for numerous radiotherapy projects, which have involved purchasing new equipment and funding assignments in which a number of Australian radiation therapists and physicists have altruistically given up their time to be a part of. The development of the first radiotherapy course in Vietnam at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine and Pharmacy is also an important milestone I have been lucky enough to be involved with.

Q. What are your hopes for the radiotherapy course at Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine and Pharmacy you helped developed?
The course is still very young and in its infant stage, so there is still a lot of work to be done. While I’m all for aiming with high hopes, at the same time I’ve also learnt not to be too greedy. So this may sound a bit dull but I am hoping just for the radiotherapy course to continue to run, as I know how much work it is taking, with the limited amount of scarce resources. Now being greedy would be seeing that eventually the radiotherapy course will be developed enough to be a separate specialised degree, with close involvement with clinical development and the capacity for local multidisciplinary research projects. However I’m quite satisfied with what I have seen so far, with new students expressing a deep keen interest in radiotherapy and patient care!

Q. What advice would you give to student radiographers starting out?
To never lose the student mindset of being open to continually learning and embracing new ideas and concepts, no matter how much you think you know, or how long you have been doing something.

Q. We are very excited to have you present at ASMMIRT 2017. What motivated you to present at this conference?
The same motivations I’ve always had from the start, because I really think it does matter, to at least have an idea of the huge challenges our close neighbour’s face, with developing their healthcare systems. And with all the innovations and advancements at our fingertips, I truly do believe it is within our ‘reach’ to make a difference.

Q. Our conference theme is ‘Reach’, what does reach mean to you?
‘Reach’ to me, first means, reaching out to those in need, which may require sometimes reaching out of our comfort zone, and not knowing where the journey may lead, but still having faith that things will be ok.

Q. What do you hope to take away from presenting at ASMMIRT 2017?
Just to be able to present I see is such a privilege. I do realise that not everyone may have the opportunity to see radiotherapy in places like Vietnam, so part of my aim is to try and bring a glimpse of it to them. Of course with an ulterior motive, of always trying to get more people interested and involved.


Lecturing at HCMC Oncology Hospital


Conference Presentation Hong Kong


Visiting Hospital in Hong Kong


Japan Conference of Radiological Technologists Kyoto


Touring Japan with conference delegates


Myself & Prof. Tuyet Anh; receiving a new year’s gift


New Year’s Eve Hospital Department Party, HCMC Oncology Hospital

2013 Report


View the 2013 report

2012 Report


View the 2012 report

2011 Report


View the 2011 report