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Student profile: Học Mãi Foundation

Meet Le Thi My Duyen
Medical student Le Thi My Duyen from Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine in Vietnam shares her experience undertaking a clinical placement at Concord Hospital in Sydney.
Le Thi My Duyen

Le Thi My Duyen (second from left) with other students

One month in Australia was the most wonderful moment to not only immerse myself into the diversity of culture and the friendliness of Australian people, but also experience the advanced technology in medicine. It was the first time I left my country to stay in a foreign country on my own, so I was really nervous once I arrived at Kingsford Smith Airport. However, my worries were swept away thanks to the warm welcome from Hamish Watson, an Australian medical student whom met me at the airport. He also took me around to have a quick look at Bondi beach before driving me to my students' accommodation. 

I set up goals to achieve during my placement such as taking medical history, examining patients, making precise diagnosis and plan of treatment, observing Australian medical system and above all things, improving my English. I felt so happy and satisfied that I could attain all of my goals in four weeks thanks to the help of Concord medical staffs and Hoc Mai officers. 

On my first day at Concord, I met Ms Wendy Lac, who gave me a very detailed orientation and also a tour around the hospital. Then she took me to visit my department, Gastroenterology, where I spent my time. I was so fortunate to have a super dedicated supervisor, Dr Matthew Kim, who welcomed me to be a part of his team and helped me to achieve my goals in that four weeks.

I was so impressed by the way each patient was taken care thoroughly and carefully, not only their physical but also their mental issues. I realised lots of things were contradictory to what I saw in most of hospitals in Vietnam. Here the hospital was bigger and more organised; there was no overload of patients like Vietnam's one.

I realised General Practitioners (GP) take care of patients from their childhood to their old age. Each patient has a complete electrical medical record, which contains all their problems. Every time patients need to see a specialist, they will have a summary letter from their GP in order to visit hospital and the specialists also send letter back to the GP to do the follow-up. In my mind, this is the best way to look after patients comprehensively, which needs to be applied in Vietnamese medical system to prevent overload of patients in centre hospital.

I really admired how Australian doctors communicated with patients. There were no gaps between doctors and patients in Australia. Doctors can spend from 30 minutes to even one hour to clarify patients' question. Before every procedure, doctors kindly explain everything to the patients, from the preparations to the procedures, even the complications. It is his/her right to decide whether he/she would like to do the procedure or not.

I also noticed that doctors care a lot about the social history of patients, which was new to me. When the patients were discharged of hospital, doctors always cared about their mobility and how they could manage at home or need social workers. Every morning seeing patients with my team, I learnt new lessons from Dr Kim. He asked me questions and encouraged me to answer and think outside the box. Whenever I were confused or misunderstood, he helped me to understand things clearly. After going rounds with team, I learnt how to take medical history by myself. I was so shy at the first place, however, my patient was so nice that he spent over one hour talking to me.

I was struggling with new stuffs at the hospital but Andrew always stood next to me to explain. I had opportunities to draw blood sample on my own and to observe how paracentesis was done. In four weeks, I also improved my ability to interpret X-ray and ECG.

Every Monday, I went to liver clinic with Dr Robert Cheng, he gave me the chance to take history of hepatitis B patient and helped me review my anatomy knowledge. Every Thursday, registrars and consultants presented interesting cases to the whole department, then they would review the knowledge of rare diseases. Thursday might be my favourite day because I learnt most from the specialist, from their clinical experience to their academic knowledge.

Besides learning from the doctors, I made friends with Australia students by attending lectures. I learned how to study in a group and self-study from other fellow Australian students too.

Every weekend, my friends and I went sightseeing around the city and tasted wonderful local food. I loved ancient buildings with majestic landscape and beautiful beaches. Australian people are so friendly. Whenever I lost, they showed me the way so carefully. They always say "Thank you" and "Sorry" all the time to express their politeness. I fell in love straight away with the peace of Australia.