Xin chào! My name is Jonathan Robinson, I am a current MPH student at USC in the global health leadership track. This past summer, for my practicum project I traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam to partner with Hanoi Medical University (HMU) to conduct a six-week retrospective research study on traumatic injuries and the use of emergency medical services (EMS). I greatly appreciate the USC Institute for Global Health and Breman Global Health Fellowship for supporting my research. The following four blogs tell my story.
Early last year I began brainstorming on locations for a practicum project. I longed for a site that would be a great learning experience, possessed a need for research or training in emergency/pre-hospital care and came with a sense of adventure. Consulting with Dr. Withers, my faculty advisor, we were able to identify potential locations and project focus. Utilizing the network of USC alumni and guidance provided by my faculty advisor, I opened a dialogue with Hanoi Medical Universtiy in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Over a six-month period, faculty at HMU and I collaborated on identifying potential topics to research. Vietnam is a fast-growing nation with the 15th largest population in the world and shows steady signs of annual economic growth at 5-7% since 2000. Vietnam has made strides in raising the average expectancy, reducing the impact of infectious diseases and increasing use of family planning and access for maternal and child health. However, Vietnam suffers from a heavy burden of injuries which account for 10% of the annual deaths. Road traffic injuries are the highest contributor and research on traumatic injuries and pre-hospital care/emergencies services is limited. Having a background in EMS fieldwork and global health projects for pre-hospital provider training, researching injuries and emergency care with HMU was a perfect fit.
Leading up to my final departure, the guidance of my faculty advisor and HMU research team was paramount. With assistance from Dr. Withers, I performed a literature review on available articles for EMS research in low- and middle-income countries focusing primarily on Southeast Asia and Vietnam. Upon analysis of the literature and discussions with public health and medical professionals at HMU, we selected the final research focus. The retrospective study utilizes patient care reports of traumatically injured patients treated at HMU Hospital to quantify the leading causes of injuries, use of pre-hospital services, mode of transportation to the hospital and patient outcomes. After gaining final IRB approval from Keck School of Medicine of USC and local approval at HMU, the project was ready to proceed.
My practicum in Vietnam would be the last leg of an extended series of public health projects from May through the end of July. Before arriving in Vietnam, I traveled with a USC student group and professors to Geneva, Switzerland to attend the 71st World Health Assembly, volunteered with Ray United FC in Uganda to carry out public health education, and took some personal time in Cambodia to travel and conduct CPR training at a local hotel. I packed my life into three bags, said my goodbyes to my family and friends, and walked into LAX airport both eager for my next adventure and hesitant of the unknown.