Doctors talk to Viet Nam News about their job. — VNS Video Thu Van
On the occasion of the 61st founding anniversary of Vietnamese Doctors' Day on February 27, Viet Nam News talks to doctors about their thoughts and concerns about the job.
Over the past years, the quality of the country's heath sector has much improved, and contributions by the hospital's doctors and medical workers to improving people's health are considerable. Are there any concerns about the job, or the sector that you want to share with our readers?
Le Hong Nhan, head of the Department of Neurosurgery, Viet-Duc Hospital, Ha Noi
Over the past years, we have seen great progress in the health sector in general and in the neurosurgery field alone. The government and the health ministry had invested considerably in the heath sector and such investment is greatly welcomed. However, the lack of proper facilities and advanced medical equipment is still one challenge we face, especially in the neurosurgery area.
For instance, at Viet Duc Hospital, the number of patients waiting for surgeries is always higher than the number of operation rooms we have. Waiting time might increase risks for patients, especially those with neurotic injuries. But on many occasions we do not have a choice, because we cannot just put a patient who is already on the operable table aside because another patient needs to be treated.
Overloading is also a pressing problem. I appreciate efforts made by the sector to reduce this situation at hospitals of a central level, but more needs to be done. We always have more patients than the capacity at Viet Duc Hospital, resulting in many patients having to share beds. And also because of such limitations, we sometimes have to discharge patients earlier than they should be though we know there might be risks.
Overloading is not only bad for patients. If we doctors at major hospitals have to deal with too many patients who hospitals at grassroots level could handle, we will not have time for in-depth research and study for more complicated cases or advanced skills and technologies.
I always tell my students to work hard if they want to be good at the job. While integrity and morality in this job are indispensable factors, you need to be really good at your job. Because, being a doctor means people placing their health, and their lives in your hands. If you are not good, you will fail to save lives, which you are supposed to do.
Lê Thi Thanh Van, National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Overloading is one the problems. It is quite understandable that patients and their families want to go straight to big hospitals at the central level for treatment. It is very important for patients that they feel they can trust doctors who treat them. So what we need to do is to improve the quality of doctors and nurses at grassroots level to win trust from people. We have been doing that by sending doctors from major hospitals to those at grassroots level, but it is not enough. I think one alarming fact we have to face is that many students are now learning not for acquiring real skills that they will need, but for the degrees that they will get.
Nguyen Hoai Thu, cardiologist, HCM City University Medical Centre
Issues relating to the implementation of an incentive policy are still not completely resolved. Surgeons in general, and heart and cardiovascular surgeons in particular, are currently paid a very low wage not worth their devotion in comparison to their colleagues in Southeast Asian countries.
A majority of interventional cardiovascular doctors cannot even support their families despite the fact that they work as co-ordinators for several hospitals.
I appreciate a recent government programme to improve attitudes of health care workers in hospitals as well as the programme to encourage young doctors to work in remote and under-privileged regions by providing them with special financial support and hope such effective campaigns continue.
As senior doctors, you also have to mentor young doctors and medical students. What do you always tell them about the job?
Le Hong Nhan: I always tell my students to work hard if they want to be good at the job. While integrity and morality in this job are indispensable, you need to be really good at your job. Because being a doctor means people placing their health, their lives in your hands – if you are not good, you will fail to save lives, which you are supposed to do from the very beginning.
Le Thi Thanh Van: I encourage them to work hard. You just cannot learn things in the medical field in a short time, it is knowledge collected day by day. One very important thing is that those who want to devote their lives to a medical career should be very passionate. I myself love my job very much. It is hard, yes, but I never stop loving my job, just like many other colleagues of mine. Because it is a hard and tough job, you need to love it very much to overcome all the hardship you will encounter.
What else do you want to share?
Le Thi Thanh Van: I remember in the past, people used to have a very warm attitude for teachers and doctors. Nowadays, it is not so popular anymore. I understand that the society has developed and things have changed considerably, and I cannot ask patients to act as if it was 30 years ago. But it is essential that patients understand that successful treatment does not only depend on us doctors alone. It depends a lot on patients and their families themselves co-operating with doctors and nurses during the whole process.
Nguyen Hoai Thu: Doctoring is praised as a noble job but praise is always followed by criticism and this causes intense pressure on us. Many doctors and health workers complain that they feel as if they are sitting on a "hot chair" while at work as they could face a negative reaction from society at any time.
The health care sector is actually a sensitive service as it relates to human health and life. Moreover, as they are being raised to take on noble work, doctors should never allow negative actions.
However, as doctors are also human beings, a mistake is sometimes unavoidable.
I feel sad whenever I come across any media stories that raise a doctor's mistake as a negative action to accuse a group of doctors or even the hospital that he or she was working for, in a way that creates a terrible image of doctors or devalues the trust of patients about the whole health care sector.
Instead, media can play an important role by contributing good ideas or support us to solve problems that arise. – VNS