A system divided: The state of neurosurgical training in modern-day Vietnam

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Neurosurgical Focus








Global neurosurgery; Low- to middle-income countries; Neurosurgical training; Vietnam


The current report is the first of its kind in describing the neurosurgical training in modern-day Vietnam. Starting with in-depth face-to-face interviews, followed by electronically distributed questionnaires, a detailed picture of the training systems emerged. Neurosurgical training in Vietnam is multifaceted and dichotomous. The country of nearly 100 million people currently has only one neurosurgery-specific residency program, at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy at Ho Chi Minh City (UMPHCMC). This program lasts for 3 years, and Westerners might recognize many similarities to programs native to their countries. A similar training program exists in the north, at the Hanoi Medical University, but at this institution, trainees focus on neurosurgery only in the final year of their 3-year training. Neurosurgical training that resembles the program in Hanoi permeates the rest of the country, and the goal for all of the programs is to rapidly produce surgeons who can be dispersed throughout the country to treat patients requiring urgent neurosurgical procedures who are medically unsuitable for transfer to large urban centers and multispecialty hospitals. For the privilege of practicing elective neurosurgery, trainees around the country are required to acquire further training in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi or during fellowships abroad. A clear description of the neurosurgical training systems in Vietnam is hard to achieve, as there exist many diverse pathways and no standard definition of the endpoint for training. Unification and a clearer certification standard will likely help to elevate the standards of training and the state of neurosurgical practice in Vietnam.