Medical Mission Overview
Volunteers are recruited to work in Vietnam on Medical Mission trips, Summer Camp for students, or Year-round independent projects. Volunteers pay for their own travel costs (landcost and airfare) which are tax-deductible for the medical mission trips and the volunteer projects.
What are Medical mission trips?
Since 1996 Project Vietnam has brought medical mission teams to rural provinces generally in March and November, at times when the Vietnam weather is relatively mild. The groups provide 3 types of services:
- Free operations to restore normal appearance to children with congenital facial deformities (mostly cleft lip & palate, a prevalent problem) and to correct eye defects (strabismus, cataracts …). Our surgeons work with local specialists to update them on new techniques.
- Medical examinations and treatments at rural clinics and schools, and oral health services for school students.
- Training for health personnel at all levels (hospitals and rural clinics, children’s hospitals and academic centers)
- Construction of “Compassion Houses” for families in need.
Here are videos of eye surgery, dental work and construction of “Compassion House” provided by Project Vietnam:
The work lasts one week at each location and typically the schedule is 7AM-5PM daily, at the main province hospital for the surgery team, and visiting a different locality everyday for the Primary Care team. The dental team sets up and works at a new school everyday. Patients will be provided with medicines mainly purchased in Vietnam to ensure continuity of treatment. The medical team collaborates with local health workers so that followup care can be planned for patients in need.
Participants stay at local hotels (usually 2-3 stars) and all accommodations and meals are arranged by the group. The landcost is usually about $800 for one week and $1350 for 2 weeks. A working visa is required which is obtained through Project Vietnam. Physicians and healthcare personnel, engineers, technical people and handymen, volunteers with humanitarian passion can apply. Non-medical volunteers provide essential support for our medical mission trips, and PV will endeavor to assign volunteers to work most appropriate for their skills.
Because of the diversity of areas of assistance, volunteers are needed to help the various teams in management tasks, patient relations, assisting physicians and dentists, supplies control & distribution, support work and translation if Vietnamese-speaking. Because of the absence of local resources, patient transport, registration, instruction etc… are all done manually and offer opportunities for wonderful interactions with the children and their families.
What are independent projects?
Throughout the year, volunteers are recruited to work at various sites in Vietnam on ongoing projects for a minimum of 2 weeks, 4 weeks or longer are preferable as projects may require longer stays. They may be working with physicians and health personnel from the US, or exclusively with local physicians. Volunteers will be supervised by Project Vietnam in-country Program Coordinator, and will be mentored by one of our volunteer US-based specialists . Weekly email reports are required with a final report upon completion. The reports from our volunteers have helped Project Vietnam to gain understanding of local systems and allowed us to recommend and/or pilot interventions to hopefully improve healthcare in Vietnam. Examples of past projects:
- Survey and studies in areas of Infection Control & prevalent child health problems such as childhood asthma & school health. 2 medical students from Canada manufactured and demonstrated the efficacy of Hand sanitizer at the National Hospital of Pediatrics during summer 2003.
- Monitoring and data collection for model programs such as Newborn care, Emergency care at provincial sites, and Rural health pilot programs. In 2007 a Newborn Jaundice study was started at Vinh Children’s Hospital and is ongoing. Community asthma prevalence is also a multi-center study.
- English classes for local physicians at sites with ongoing programs.
Volunteers will reside at identified lodgings and are responsible for their own living cost, estimated $25/day/person excluding airfare. They need to have a working visa which costs $225. Volunteers are encouraged to raise $500 or more for projects in Vietnam.
These projects are especially interesting for volunteers who desire exposure to healthcare and community health programs as they allow access to patients and volunteers will work alongside with Vietnam healthcare personnel on a meaningful project. Volunteers are gratified as they learn that their project led to tangible improvements. The Jaundice study in Vinh allowed us to define circumstances leading to severe damage for newborn babies, and a community campaign was initiated resulting on early detection. Further ongoing research is currently done there towards more effective treatment.
Who can apply and how do I apply?
Volunteers from all background are encouraged to apply, and knowledge of Vietnamese is not required. The areas we help have multiple needs and every attempt will be made to match the volunteers educational background with appropriate work. Referrals from past participants receive first priority, and early registration is recommended, as it takes 2 months to obtain the working visa. There will be an interview process, which can be done over the phone for volunteers outside of California.
Please download the Medical Mission application. You will need to follow the instructions to return the required documents, and contact the coordinator for an interview. Required information are the following:
- Volunteer application (medical mission application + liability release form + visa application form)
- Current resume with copy of applicable professional license
- Color copy/scan of passport
- Document showing current education status for students.
After returning the information above –application, resume, school document and passport scan may be sent by email- volunteer will be contacted within 2 weeks for an interview. References from former participant are important.
Vietnam is not the one of the worst location for poverty or needs, but it is at the juncture of development and healthcare is one of the most crucial area for improvement. Project Vietnam has earned a credibility which allows us to contribute building blocks for healthcare development and empowerment of health professionals. Ultimately the children of Vietnam and the needy families will be the beneficiaries of the work of PV volunteers.
Interested in volunteering for trips? Please sign up for more information.