Vietnamese health sciences university trains students in palliative care

Health care and palliative care leaders from throughout Vietnam attend Vietnam’s 1st National Palliative Care Conference was held at the University of Medicine & Pharmacy at Ho Chi Minh City on World Hospice Palliative Care Day in October 2018

The University of Medicine and Pharmacy at Ho Chi Minh City (UMP) took a big step toward implementing the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) on palliative care education. By 2022, all graduates of the medical school will have basic knowledge and skills in palliative care.

The University has established one of the first academic departments of palliative care in the developing world.

In keeping with WHO guidance, the department now offers basic, intermediate, and specialist education in palliative care as recommended by WHO.

Basic training in palliative care is integrated into the new undergraduate medical curriculum throughout its six years and emphasises case-based learning in years five and six.

Intermediate level training totalling 50-70 hours and including both classroom and bedside teaching is now required for all medical specialist trainees in nine fields: internal medicine, family medicine, geriatrics, paediatrics, oncology, haematology, infectious medicine, tuberculosis, and critical care.

Basic training in palliative care nursing began in 2017, and it will be required for all Masters students in nursing in 2019.

Also in 2019, the department will begin training palliative care specialist physicians for Vietnam, with the specialist training program opened to physicians from the Southeast Asian region thereafter.

Clinical training is provided in four affiliated teaching hospitals: a major cancer centre that serves as the oncology referral hospital for all of southern Vietnam, a university general hospital, a major tuberculosis and lung disease hospital, and a large children’s hospital where one of our faculty members leads the country’s first paediatric palliative care unit.

The department was conceived over the past few years by Tran Diep Tuan, MD, PhD (President of the University), along with Dang Huy Quoc Thinh, MD, PhD (Vice Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital), and Than Ha Ngoc The, MD, PhD (Chair of the University’s Department of Geriatrics), with technical assistance from Eric L. Krakauer, MD, PhD (Fulbright US Scholar and Director of the Global Palliative Care Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA).

Dr Thinh and Dr The now lead the Department, and Dr Krakauer serves as Honorary Chair. The faculty also includes Bui Thi Thanh Huyen, MD, MSc, a paediatrician, and Le Dai Duong, MD, MSc, a geriatrician. These young faculty members have completed Masters degrees in palliative care from King’s College London, UK, thanks to fellowships from the Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care.

Faculty members are involved in several palliative care research collaborations including a validation study of a Vietnamese version of the Palliative Outcomes Scale (with Vietnam’s Ministry of Health and King’s College London), an assessment of the palliative care-related knowledge and attitudes of trainees before and after training, and a study of patient outcomes and extended cost-effectiveness of a palliative home care program based at the cancer centre.

The Department’s mission is to rapidly improve access to high-quality palliative care for the people of Vietnam through education and research and to provide a model for other health sciences universities in developing countries.

The authors welcome questions, comments, suggestions and co-operations via the following email address:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *