Vassar College undergraduate spends six weeks gaining medical
experience as a volunteer in Vietnam
Evan Teske (22) had always wanted to travel abroad. He saved up and decided to do something that would benefit his chosen career path of one day becoming a doctor. With the goal of learning from another culture and other medical approaches, he signed up with Projects Abroad to participate in their Medical Project in Vietnam.
Evan’s placement was the National Hospital of Acupuncture where the eastern healing methods like acupuncture and acupressure are mainly applied to treat the patients. At first, Evan felt a little overwhelmed by the large number of patients coming in the mornings, the acupuncture and the kids’ screaming. “I learnt to be more interactive with the patients, which is really important for being a doctor in the future,” he shared.
An average day for Evan started at 8am when he arrived at the hospital and got his white coat on. He worked in the Paediatric Autism Department. “What I usually did was help with the acupuncture. The doctors put the needles in and then I hooked them up to machines. Each needle is connected to an electrical box so the electricity can go through the needles for the acupuncture treatment. There are usually 22 to 36 needles on one patient and the treatment can last for 30 to 45 minutes. When it’s been done I turned off the machine and pulled the needles out to make sure they don’t bleed so I had cottons in my hand to be ready. After that the doctors injected medicine into the children to balance and relax the muscles. I also helped with the acupressure and the massage for the patients. During the afternoons I helped the doctors with paperwork which takes them a lot of time. The days were long but they were all very good,” said Evan.
Working with screaming and crying, ill children and getting exposed daily to the large number of patients and a totally foreign healing method during the six weeks offered Evan some valuable experiences, and he believes that they will be extremely valuable for his chosen career. “I learnt to be more patient with the children, be more compassionate and it was really valuable to interact with the patients, nurses and doctors. That is something I don’t usually get when doing volunteer work in the USA. Also, now I have a broader view of different types of medicine. I’m now more open-minded to any type of medicine wherever it comes from: western or eastern. It is important to co-operate all the best things that actually help people and that is the main goal of becoming a doctor.”
The six weeks Evan spent in Hanoi with his volunteer project was six weeks full of memorable experiences. “It was very interesting when I asked my translator to ask parents what improvements they saw in their children from the treatment and it was really great to hear from them that their children can walk better, can grab
things or can hear because they were deaf before.”