Hoc Mai Scholarship program for Allied Health Students
29 June 2009
In November 2008 I boarded a plane bound for Vietnam, feeling anxious for the learning experience that awaited me. I landed in Hanoi along with my fellow students, including seven medical students, two physiotherapy students and myself, as a speech pathology student. I had the honour of spending 4 weeks in Hanoi as one of the first Allied Health students to take part in the Hoc Mai Scholarship program. Having developed a strong interest in International Health, this experience, thanks to the Hoc Mai Foundation, proved invaluable. My clinical placement in Vietnam introduced me to an incredible culture and allowed me to meet a dedicated group of people both inside and outside the medical profession.
Over the course of 4 weeks, I had the privilege of working in various departments at Bach Mai Hospital. In shadowing the gracious doctors and health staff, I spent time in the Rehabilitation Centre, the ENT department and the craniofacial unit. During my final week, I visited the Vietnam-Cuba Friendship Hospital and was kindly introduced to members of the Operation Smile team. I was immediately made to feel welcome as surgeons took me into the operating theatre to observe both a cleft lip and cleft palate repair. I was blown away as the team talked me through surgery, introduced me to all the patients, and never seemed too busy to have a conversation. The dedicated health professionals I met, and the countless Vietnamese people willing to share their stories and knowledge, made for a truly unforgettable learning adventure.
In April of this year, inspired by the work I saw in Vietnam, I decided to run the Canberra Marathon in support of Operation Smile. Thanks to family and friends I was able to raise $940AUD for the non-profit medical organisation, Operation Smile, and proudly complete the marathon. I left Vietnam with knowledge and inspiration that could never have been discovered from a textbook in Australia. I am forever grateful to the Hoc Mai Foundation and their dedication to forever learning, without whom, my story from Vietnam would not have been possible.