Improving Health Care for Ethnic Minority Populations through Pre-Service Training in Viet Nam: A Systems-Based Approach

Photo by Idriss Bigou-Gilles

Building on eight years of experience working with Vietnamese Universities, Pathfinder partnered with two medical universities and five medical colleges to increase the number of students from underrepresented ethnic minority groups.

Pathfinder developed and published the Medical Anthropology Curriculum—a first for Viet Nam—which aims to sensitize students to the social and cultural determinants of health.

More than 20,000 medical students and 1,000 teachers benefited from project teachings in seven different medical training institutions.

In November 2013, the project shared the promising results of its final evaluation at a workshop, giving training institutions and stakeholders the opportunity to discuss and develop plans to sustain project results in the future.

Project profile

With funding from Atlantic Philanthropies, this project improved access to high-quality, culturally appropriate health care in mountainous and underserved areas where many ethnic minorities live, and addressed equity issues for these groups. By partnering with two medical universities and five medical colleges/secondary medical schools, Pathfinder reinforced medical education with an emphasis on primary health care needs of minority populations. The project promoted ethnic minority student representation in medical education, so graduates can return and serve their underrepresented communities.

approach

Pathfinder developed and published the Medical Anthropology Curriculum—a first for Viet Nam—which aims to sensitize students to the social and cultural determinants of health. Additionally, existing curricula were “spiked” with ethnic minority case studies. Results of a mid-term evaluation showed that the project’s design and implementation are effective. After the evaluation, the project intensified its advocacy effort for policy change and improvements that promote enrollment, recruitment, and retention of ethnic minority medical students, as well as meaningful participation of ethnic minorities in the medical profession.

Pathfinder provided medical anthropology training to health personnel who provide services to ethnic minority populations. The project also supported curriculum updates and development of teaching aids, improved teaching methodologies, upgraded teaching facilities and skill labs as well as community-based practicum facilities to support healthy human development in ethnic minority areas, in collaboration with the University of Western Australia.

Students and ethnic minority students expressed their appreciated of new, dynamic teaching methodologies and learning opportunities that came about as a result of project activities. This resulted in teachers being inspired to use more interactive approaches in their classrooms. The project also motivated policymakers to review current policy framework, igniting a discussion on improving that framework to support the human resource development for health care in mountainous areas.

In November 2013, the project shared the promising results of its final evaluation at a workshop, giving training institutions, project partners, and stakeholders at national and subnational levels the opportunity to discuss and develop plans to sustain project results in the future. 

notable achivements

  • More than 20,000 medical students and 1,000 teachers benefited from project teachings in seven different medical training institutions
  • 66 medical practicum sites upgraded and put into active use for teaching and learning
  • 542 faculty and 679 teaching staff received technical updates to refresh their training in teaching methodologies
  • Four sets of curricula for doctors, assistants doctors, nurses, and midwives were revised to meet competency-based requirements
  • Ministry of Health shared project products on its website for use by other medical training institutions
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