The stethoscope give-a-way was by far the biggest hit. We took it back to basics for the nurses, and we can tell that it was really useful information for them. During the Respiratory sounds lecture, we taught them how to wear the stethoscopes and use them to assess heart and lung sounds. Most of the nurses had never used a stethoscope before. It was amazing to see the change that came over the nurses when they realized they were going to receive the stethoscopes they were practicing with.
Vietnam is still very much a Communist country, control and permission comes from the top and trickles down. The nurses are on the bottom of that chain. They need permission to do anything. Right now, their job is to wait for orders to be given to them, and do not make any patient care decisions without contacting the doctor first, if that doctor is wrong, or prescribes the wrong drug or dosage, the nurse is still responsible to carry out his order and dare not question it. The nurses are not seen as intelligent enough to perform physical assessments or interpret test results, only doctors carry out those types of tasks. In a code situation, you will see 4 or 5 doctors and no nurses.Also, the Vietnamese people take very long lunches during mid-day; the break is about 2 hours, and all work stops. The hospital halls are empty, and family members can be seen outside the patient rooms cooking and enjoying meals together.
There is a strong family presence in Vietnam, family is required to provide bed linen, patient clothing and meals. There is even a building on campus to house the family of patients that are in a visiting hour restricted unit like ICU.
I have never had to give a speech before, and I spoke twice at the opening and closing ceremonies. The heads of the VN government were there, as well as respected American physicians like the past and current President of ACEP and IFEM. Also, the weather in Hue during spring is usually sunny and warm; while we were there it was neither. Each day was wet and cold!
Touring Hue Central Hospital, the hospital version of a CNO gave us a very up close tour. I found it important to see the area and real life experience of the VN nurse. I met with many patients, doctors and family members, and heard the patients’ stories. We even got to see the Vietnams’ first heart transplant recipient. I met a patient in the ICU who spoke perfect English, and he held our hands and thanked us with tears in his eyes for our presence and helping the hospital.
One of my favorite experiences was during the nursing conference. We were given two English speaking VN physicians to make sure our content was being translated correctly. During one of the days, a conversation during the “Tubes and Lines” lecture broke out into a full blown conversation between these two doctors and the nurses. I was amazed. It was history in the making. The nurses voice was being acknowledged in a way that we hadn’t expected. They were sharing information on an equal level. To me that was the most amazing break through.
Michelle (Mickey) G., RN was our fourth scholarship recipient in 2011. Mickey will graduate with her BSN in September. She has been an ER nurse at a 60 bed inner city Emergency Department for seven 7 years, and the night shift charge nurse for two of those years. Prior to being a nurse, Mickey worked as a unit coordinator in the ER and post-op units. Mickey is passionate about, and dedicated to Emergency Nursing. She is active in her hospital community, as well as her local and church community. Mickey travels to Vietnam for three weeks, once a year, to lecture on Emergency Nursing and procedures. In 2011 she was the Co-Chair of the Vietnam EM Symposium and organized the whole thing. It is her travels that have prompted her to advance her career. Her goal is a Masters in Public Health.