“Serving, loving, growing”. These three words are how doctor Chris King summarizes his experience in Vietnam. For over two decade of serving in Vietnam, Chris has been using his talents and skills as a doctor to serve various communities throughout the country. Working directly with local patients, doctors and hospitals, he has gained an invaluable understanding of the Vietnamese healthcare system and practices. Follow our interview with Chris below to learn about his experience as our volunteer serving in the medical domain.
What was your favorite memory/experience from your trips to Vietnam?
My favorite memory of Vietnam, besides the people I have gotten to know best, is the hiking from village to village around SaPa. I did this on my first trip in 2002 and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the area and the terraced farmlands, and I was intrigued by the lifestyles of the different minority groups of that region.
How did your experience in Vietnam change you as a person and a doctor?
Visiting Vietnam keeps me grounded in the things that are most important. We have way too much at our fingertips in the U.S so we can't help but become spoiled without knowing it. In Vietnam I can get away from the unnecessary surpluses of home and see the goodness of a simpler life. I especially appreciate this in the villages of the Lao Cai Province. As a doctor it becomes more evident to me how many of our diseases are self-inflicted by bad choices and over-indulgence.
How can a doctor/medical personnel serve in Vietnam?
Anyone with medical training in the U.S can be of great value in Vietnam. When I talk to the mostly highly trained doctors in Vietnam and ask them what is the one thing they want most to improve health care in Vietnam, they all say the same thing. "Come share with us what you know. We need more education and to learn from your experience. Please come train our doctors and nurses and all our medical staff. We want to learn more."
What were the challenges you faced while serving in Vietnam?
The greatest challenge while serving in Vietnam is understanding how the culture and history affect the health care system. With my most recent visit and the invaluable help of Little Thao, I gained tremendous insight from doctors and hospital administrators who shared valuable information to help me understand. Now we have a focused plan to serve and make a difference.