Published by
Do Hai Dang , 5th year medical student of HMU to Karolinska Institute, Sweden 

I am Dang Do Hai, fifth-year medical student at Hanoi Medical University (HMU) and my specialty is general practitioner. I had a chance to go to Karolinska Institutet (KI) in Sweden for 10 weeks (from 21/8/2016 – 31/10/2016) on the exchange program between 2 universities. Coming to Sweden, I chose to learn a subject which is different from what I was taught at school. The system of physical activity prescription (FaR) is my choice as I have known that there are many professors working in this area and Sweden is one of the leading countries in the world in this field.

Before the departure, I felt worried that I can not meet the expectations of people who takes responsible for my study and also who wants me to deepen into this subject. But this thought was blown away when I landed in Stockholm. My supervisor was so nice, despite her busy work, she still tried to arrange the schedule for me so I would not miss any day for learning and discovering

During my study time, I had a chance to meet many people with different professions, from professor to physiotherapist, trainer, educator… which bring me different views from many aspects. Through each meeting and conversation, my knowledge about physical activity and FaR was deepened and deepened. I knew how they implement the system of FaR, how the doctor gives a motivational interview and persuades the patients to change their lifestyle or the way the patients can train - individually or in group….

Last but not least, studying in Sweden was a dream come true for me and I really appreciate my time in here. After finishing this course, I know clearly about the whole procedures of FaR for the needed patients and more importantly, I felt that I have enough knowledge, inspiration and motivation to implement FaR in Vietnam.


Nguyen Thu Giang, student of Advanced Nursing Program at HMU has shared experiences of her visiting trip to Tampere, Finnland as exchange student in Autaumn 2016.

Before I came to Finland, I just knew something about this beautiful country with the land of a thousand lakes, Santa Claus, snow and high level education system. So, when my university offered me the opportunity to study in Tampere I immediately jumped at it. I remember the first day I came here alone and this is the first time I went far away my family to study for a long time. Everything was so new for me: transportation system, people, weather, culture.

I felt a little bit nervous about the time I would stay here and how to adapt with a lot of new things. But after I met my tutor, something became easier, she told me some basic thing about Finland and gave me some advice. I had some Finnish friends, who I met when they were exchange students at my home country but they live in another city. Before I came here, I made friends with some VietNamese students and I decided to stay with one of them. With helping of many people, I felt it was not difficult to survive like I imagined. I have learnt some new things, what I have not experienced before.

Some people asked me about culture shock but I laughed and told them that it was not really culture shock, it was only interesting situations. I was totally stunned by the weather. In Viet Nam it was around 30ºC and here it was all snow and ice. Addition, I have not seen snow in my home country but in the first days of November, I saw and played with snow like a kid even it was definitely cold and my hands were frozen. And then about people, I never thought the difference between VietNamese and Finns was so big when it comes to shyness and protecting their private lives. I often felt like I came across as pushy, when I was just being my normal, cheerful, energetic self. I think it is difficult to get close to a Finn, but once they are very nice, sincere and trustworthy.

They are much calmer than VietNamese, and they do what they say they will. In my orientation week, a little bit worried for me but I was easy to adapt with because of friendliness from tutor, teachers in TAMK. What I like most in TAMK is a lot of activities for exchange students and they were fun. Finns love sauna and of course I experienced it in TAMK’s outside activities. It was extremely so new and quite hard for me but just after several times I became like it so much. I love the Finnish folk dancing, it is incredible and I will teach my friends that dancing when I come back my home university for sure. I am very impressed by the education systems here and how well-equipped everything is. And, here they focus more on the practical, rather than the theoretical, like in my home country.

And then there’s the way teaching staff and follow students, help them when they’ve got a problem. Afterwards students feel better and not like they’ve been put down. The quality of teaching is remarkable. Students are somehow on the same level with the lectures and this is completely different from not only my home university but also whole schools in Viet Nam. I am very happy that Finnish is the second language I have tried to learnt, it is difficult for me but a lot of fun with friendly teacher. With me, 3 months is short but it is enough to feel how great Finland is and I am thinking about my trip to come back here in the near future. And Finland, where I try things I thought I was never able to do.  


 After orientation week, I was assigned to three placements in different hospital of the city. Before the day of training in each placement, a nursing student or my supervisor picked me to visit the ward and met my mentor nurse if it was possible. It was so good because I did not waste my time to find the way to ward at the first day of training.  During my practice, I was allowed to do some nursing techniques such as: injection, insert IV lines, urinary catheter,ect under the guidance of my mentor nurse. I was experienced a new teaching method, which I have not done before. It was “each one teach one”, it means one mentor nurse would follow and guide every my working shift with dedicated directions. What an amazing teaching method! I did try almost nursing procedures here, which I did in Viet Nam but there are some differences in theory and medical tools.

With her supervisor  Making Christmas cake at the University in Tampere 

In Finland, there are two levels of nurse: practical level (125 credits) and polytechnic level (140 credits, 1credit = 40 hour). With practical level, take care, support and promote the growth and rehabilitation of people from various age groups and in various life situations. The goal is to help, guide, and support the clients to cope with their normal daily activities. The graduates from this program will be able to interact with people and to have equal respect for them. With polytechnic level: there are three options: the registered nurse, the public health nurse, the midwife. The three streams all include studies in the basic education for nursing. The education of the nurse and public health nurse comprise the three-year education of nursing responsible for general care. Nurses are registered as nurse and public health nurse as public health nurse respectively. The midwife holds both the nurse title/registration and the midwife title/registration. They have to study the (general care) nurse degree first. Registered nurses tend to work mostly in hospitals, whereas the registered public health nurses tend to work in community health centers and schools. Though their training is very similar they are considered to be separate professions.

With the nurses and oldest patients  With the patient 

The biggest difference between nursing care in Finland and Viet Nam is total care. It means in Finland, nurses have to take care everything for the patients: from basic care (taking shower, morning washing, feeding,ect) to medical care ( giving medication, injection, nursing techniques,ect). In addition, the relationship between nurses and doctors; between medical staffs and patients are so friendly, no stress as in Viet Nam.

Nurses are divided into small groups (2-3 people) to work with 6-9 patients and they just work about 8 hours/day and average 2 days off each week. They get no stress in working, they take care more effectively.


Ms. Micaela Olsson, student of Gothenburg University, Sweden 

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”-Exchange student in Hanoi Medical University, 2015


"I just came back to Sweden after a three month exchange program in Hanoi Medical University, Vietnam. During my time there did I participate in parts of two courses (Advanced Medical Nursing and Children Health Care) and one whole course (Community Health Care). I joined in both lectures in the university and practice in the different hospitals. The reason I decided to do an exchange program was because I know that I want to work abroad in the future. This kind of experience would give me a bigger understanding for different cultures, methods and perspectives in another kind of healthcare system that I am used to.

Well arrived in the country of smiles, Vietnam, did I get a very friendly welcome. Many people from the university were involved in my studies. Even thou I was registered in courses that didn’t apply to our earlier agreement, did the international coordinator try her best to sort things out in the best way possible. It resulted in some changing of plans and I started the right course already the same afternoon with a lecture.

The way the lectures in Hanoi Medical University and in Gothenburg University are hold is very different. From Sweden am I used to take a lot of own responsibility for my studies and I can decide which lectures I want to go and listen to. The most important is that I learn what I need to know. In Hanoi is the own responsibility less, where it felt like the most important was to be present. On the other hand is the participation in the class much more important compared to Sweden, where we normally have certain occasions to get examined.  The way things are organized in Sweden is through a database where all the information students need is collected. In the university in Hanoi goes all the information through a contact student that contacts the rest of the students in the class. And that was needed because plans about meetings, lectures, times and places changed often. The students I met during my time in Vietnam were the sweetest and most helpful girls and boys I could imagine. They helped and supported me a lot, especially with translating when the lectures were in Vietnamese or when I couldn’t talk to patients and people working in the hospitals. Even if I couldn’t speak the same language as the patients or other people in the country didn’t it stop us from communicate. There is many other ways to communicate than verbally. The body language is almost as useful as words. The most important is that both parts in the conversation want to understand and are trying.

The practice in the hospitals was where I saw the most of the differences in between the countries. The first place I went to for practice was the Respiratory Department in Bach Mai hospital. This place was where I saw the most extreme conditions. It was very crowded, with patients, family members, nurses, doctors and students in every corner. A room made for four patients contained 70 people at the same time. The patients shared the beds and they were up to four patients in one bed. This is something I am not used to from the hospitals in Sweden. The hand hygiene was not followed as strict as in Sweden, with washing hands, alcohol and gloves. I found that the importance of hand hygiene was something they were talking about in school but didn’t apply in the hospital. Many of the methods I saw are not used in Sweden. The people working in the hospital impressed me.  They were very hardworking and did the duties very fast. Their shifts were very long as well. I was talking to one of the doctors and she had a 48 hours working shift, but had to stay longer than that. I can’t see how someone can focus and do a good job with the right decisions after so many hours. But she explained for me that the alternative was to not have a doctor to take care of the patients at all, so finally I understood her decision to work for that long. This is just one example of how hardworking and motivated the people in the hospital are.

In Sweden we do all the care for the patients and the family members is sometimes only coming to the hospital to visit the patient a few times per week or not at all. In Hanoi I found out that the family members are doing all the care and nursing for the patients. There are positive things with that as well. The patients always have someone right next to them that they know to care for them, even thou the family members don’t have the right training and knowledge.

Something else I found very interesting in the different hospitals was the use of tradition medication from the family members. I saw someone covered in cucumber, for the pain. I saw someone with scars on the stomach to take away the pain. I saw a little girl in the Pediatric hospital with silver around the ankles to take away the fever. In the Elderly Care Center did they have monkeys which they used for the fur in case of heavy bleeding. If we eat the monkeybrain will we live longer. For me all this is very far from my own country, culture and I believe in place-bo effect, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.

The way we are doing practice in Sweden is that each and every student has a mentor (a nurse) to go with in the hospital. In Hanoi the whole class is in the department together and only have very short contact with the responsible (a doctor) for that department. For me that was a bit less effective to go around, talk and examine the patients alone, because I didn’t know if the conclusion was the right. What I found interesting was the lecture with the patients. I could get a better understanding for the disease. We don’t have lectures like that in Sweden because of the integrity of the patient. The nightshifts in Hanoi did I find very interesting as well, because I could actually follow a nurse and see her daily duties.

Except all the good experiences I got from the Hanoi Medical University, did I have an amazing time in Vietnam. The beautiful and loving people I was living with. It was for sure the best place to live in the whole of Hanoi. The very tasty food, except dog and rat that I was too scared to try. And the amazing landscape in the north of Vietnam, with high mountains to climb, the small roads to ride a bike, the waterfalls, caves, national parks, lakes and much more.

One of the most important things I learn during my trip and exchange program is that strength lies in differences, not in similarities. Just because we are doing things in different ways doesn’t it always mean that one of the ways is wrong. It is important to learn from each other and bring the good experiences with us.

One day I will come back to the country where everyone is smiling. Vietnam, I will see you again!"



Phuc Cong Tran, Roseman University of Health Science, USA 

Mr. Phuc Cong Tran, student of Roseman University of Health Science, USA has spent almost 4 weeks learning internship the course of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Hanoi Medical University.Below is his sharing about this study trip

"I had a wonderful four weeks of clinical study in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery as an exchange student. Before coming here, I was worried about what sort of learning environment I was going to be placed in and how I was going to survive the crazy, chaotic traffic here in Hanoi. Those feelings all quickly dissipated as soon as I met the professors and doctors of this department. I am incredibly grateful for their hospitality and eagerness to teach and welcome me into their personal and professional lives.


My days consisted of arriving at the hospital at 7AM followed by a group meeting, rounds, patient examinations, and scrubbing into OR cases. The HMU Hospital was a busy and fast-paced environment which was exactly what I had hoped for. Patients came from all over the city and surrounding provinces to seek medical care from some of the most renowned doctors in the region. I gained an enormous amount of clinical exposure to pathological conditions such as cancer, congenital abnormalities, and facial trauma.  

This enriching experience has taught me a lot about Vietnam, the country where I was born, the city of Hanoi, and the passionate individuals who dedicate their lives to caring for the ill. I will look back fondly on this memory for years to come. Cảm ơn các thầy và trường ĐH Y Hà Nội đã cho em cơ hội này!"

Phuc Tran

Roseman University of Health Sciences


My student-exchange time at HMU

Mrs. Marica Riuttaskorpi, Student of HAMK, Finnland shared about her experiences during the time studying exchange program at Hanoi Medical University( HMU),Vietnam

"I arrived to Vietnam on the last day of August and started my nursing exchange studies at HMU at the beginning of September. At first everything felt very strange; the amount of people and traffic, climate’s warmness and even the food were all very different than in Finland, where I come from. The staff at the university received me however very kindly, and I soon learned that the Advanced Nursing Program is taught in English at the university. It made me happy because I was worried that I would face some communication problems, but when I started my lessons, my worries were relieved. Everyone spoke quite understandable English, and I could understand what’s going on.

In addition to the theoretical classes I had the privilege to do clinical training as well. I studied at the HMU Hospital, Viet Duc Hospital and at the National Pediatrics Hospital. At those hospitals I learned the importance of family in Vietnam. It was very inspiring to see the family members playing part in the care of the patients. It is indeed very different from my home country, Finland, where the nurses do almost everything for the patient.

I feel that life and studying is very communal in Vietnam. I got to be a part of it as my classmates took me in very well and they were very interested about me and the ways of my country. I didn’t feel lonely because no matter where I went, there were always people to guide me and to talk to me. It is perhaps something we need to improve in Finland, as Finnish people are quite introverted.

Now that I look back, I have learned quite much during my time in HMU. I want to give praise to the students who are extremely busy yet still they arrange amazing events and clubs after the school day is over. For including me into those events, I would like to express my gratitude.

From an outsider’s point of view, I must say that the traffic here in Vietnam first scared me to death, and it didn’t make me feel very safe. After one month I learned to endure it, and how to squeeze my way into it without getting hurt. For most of the European people the traffic chaos here is something totally unseen.

The whole hospital system here in Vietnam differs greatly from the system in Finland. I see that many things still need to be improved, but with time I believe anything can be achieved. It is great that the nurses get to work beside the patient’s family.

My student-exchange time here has been successful, exiting journey for 3 ½ months. I got to visit many interesting places like Halong Bay and Da Lat. Now, nearly at the end of December, it is time to go back home to my Christmas land, Finland".







Thank author 0 Add to favorites
! Complain

Comments (0)

Add image