Vietnam

Traditional Medicine & Community Health

Gain a deep understanding of how Vietnam nurtures its vibrant, traditional medicine system while expanding and strengthening its far-reaching community health network.

At a Glance

Credits

6

Prerequisites

None

Courses taught in

English

Dates

Jun 12 – Jul 21

Program Countries

Vietnam

Program Base

Ho Chi Minh City

Critical Global Issue of Study

Global Health & Well-being

Global Health & Well-being Icon

Overview

Why study traditional medicine in Vietnam?

Explore Vietnam’s ancient and traditional health systems, from bustling and dynamic Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho in the Mekong Delta to Dalat Flower Garden in the Central Highland. Traditional Vietnamese medicine, also known as southern medicine (Thuoc Nam) and traditional Chinese medicine, or northern medicine (Thuoc Bac), have evolved closely for more than a millennium. Starting at the program’s base in Ho Chi Minh City, learn about the social, economic, and cultural paradigms that frame traditional Vietnamese medicine and Vietnam’s extensive community health network. You will also learn about the use and local practices of southern medicine in rural Hoa An village in Mekong Delta. During a week-long excursion to Dalat, see how indigenous local groups such as the K’ho peoples are affected by climate change, globalization, development, and sustainability efforts. Learn to differentiate Vietnamese and Chinese traditional medicines and allopathic systems, gaining a multidimensional view into healthcare and health delivery among diverse groups including marginalized and indigenous populations. Visit with doctors and professors at the Vietnamese University of Medicine and Pharmacy as well as traditional medicine hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta. Shadow Chinese traditional health practitioners in Cho Lon (China Town), meet herbal healers in Hoa An village, meet with traditional medicine practitioners in Central Highland, and visit Truc Lam Buddhist Monastery to learn how yoga and meditation practices have been integrated into Vietnamese traditional healing practices.

Highlights

  • Learn concepts of traditional medicine, particularly the effects of Qi (energy, digestive, immune, mental state).
  • Study community health and the intertwined practices of traditional Vietnamese and Chinese medicine at universities and in rural communities.
  • Live with a host family in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Learn and practice Vietnamese meditation at Truc Lam Monastery in the Central Highlands.

Prerequisites

None.

Excursions

Mekong Delta and Herbal Healers of Southern Medicine

Investigate community health in the cultural and rural development context of the Mekong Delta. Learn about herbal medicine from traditional healers in Hoa An rural village. Interact with local students and learn ow southern medicine is applied in their daily lives .

China Town in Ho Chi Minh City

Take classes on Vietnamese and Chinese traditional medicine systems.  Observe various practices and therapies in China Town and Ho Chi Minh City. Visit Chinese traditional medicine shops on Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street. China Town offers views of Chinese cultural, culinary, and architectural characteristics. Explore Hao Si Phuong, a 100-year old alley where most residents are of Chinese descent. Visit the sacred Thien Hau Pagoda, a spiritual house built in 1760. Visit and learn to make your own lantern or drum on Lantern Street.

Dalat Flower Garden and Truc Lam Monastery

Travel to Dalat, a well-known flower and botanical garden city in the Central Highlands where French architecture and cuisine remain. Observe folk medicine practices by the K’ho ethnic group and visit the Sivananda Yoga Training Center for an introduction to yoga philosophy and practice. Study the concept of life and death in Buddhism at Truc Lam Monastery and participate in meditation sessions. Visit a local public health clinic and traditional Vietnamese medicine clinic to compare community health practices in the Central Highlands with those in Ho Chi Minh City.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.

Academics

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Explain the main theoretical foundations that inform traditional Vietnamese and/or Chinese medicine;
  • Analyze the concept of “holistic health” and discuss its significance in Vietnamese and Chinese philosophical perspectives;
  • Identify the pressing community health issues that Vietnam, and especially ethnic minorities, currently face;
  • Use Vietnamese or Chinese language and intercultural skills to provide a brief and focused presentation on Vietnamese and Chinese traditional medicine.

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.



Coursework

The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.


Key Topics

  • Social, economic, and cultural paradigms that frame traditional Vietnamese medicine
  • Healthcare and health delivery among diverse groups, including marginalized and indigenous populations
  • The philosophy behind traditional Vietnamese medicine and its connection with traditional Chinese medicine
  • Herbal remedies, medicinal preparation, Vietnamese massage,and acupuncture
  • Standard Vietnamese language and communication skills.

Vietnam: Traditional Medicine and Community Health

Vietnam: Traditional Medicine and Community Health
(IPBH 3000 / 3 credits)

This course introduces students to community health in Ho Chi Minh City, with a major emphasis on the traditional Vietnamese medical system (TVM). This includes the philosophy that lies behind TVM and its connection with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Students have an unparalleled opportunity to observe and practice in a clinical setting. Through the introduction of key techniques associated with traditional Vietnamese medicine, such as herbal remedies, medicinal preparation, Vietnamese massage, acupuncture with the added benefits of gentle electric stimulation, students interact ethically and responsibly with Vietnamese medical doctors, hospital staff, and certified practical healers. Students also participate in local social activities, educational excursions, and group discussions. In this manner, students simultaneously develop a well-rounded understanding of TVM and some associated elements of TCM and intercultural skills required for successful learning and communication. Based in Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam, students engage with diverse methods and approaches of traditional healing and learn how the Vietnamese and Chinese communities in Chinese Town interact and support each other. Students can observe how the local Chinese community has preserved the Chinese cultural spirit over centuries. On day trip to the Mekong Delta, students are able to learn about local TVM practices from herbal specialists. A week-long excursion to the ethnic minority areas in Dalat City in the Central Highland area introduces students to indigenous medical systems in rural areas. Both excursions include meetings with local medical practitioners.

 

Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Vietnamese

Beginning Vietnamese
(VIET-1003 or VIET-1503 / 3 credits)

Intermediate Vietnamese
(VIET-2003 or VIET-2503 / 3 credits)

Advanced Vietnamese
(VIET-3003 or VIET-3503 / 3 credits)

Three language level courses are designed to develop students’ communication skills in standard Vietnamese. These courses emphasize oral expression and listening comprehension and integrate Vietnamese culture to promote students’ cross-cultural awareness and understanding. Due to the great differences in Vietnamese and English, students will also be introduced to strategies and skills for learning Vietnamese as a foreign language.

Classes and field-based language activities are taught by qualified, native-speaking language teachers from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities and the Vietnam-American Association in Ho Chi Minh City. Students are placed into the appropriate level based on oral proficiency interviews on arrival in Vietnam. These placements may not directly correspond to the student’s level at the home institution as SIT courses focus on communicative competence and linguistic functional ability.

Instruction consists of 45 hours of formal classes spread over a six-week period in Ho Chi Minh City. Additional hours of instruction and guided field practice are integrated during excursions to the Mekong Delta, Dalat City, and throughout the homestay period in Ho Chi Minh City. These language practicum classes take full advantage of the local environment, requiring students to practice their skills outside the walls of the classroom, yet in a structured way with the support of the language instructors.

Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Chinese

Beginning Chinese
(CHIN-1003 or CHIN-1503 / 3 Credits)

Intermediate Chinese
(CHIN-2003 or CHIN-2503 / 3 credits)

Advanced Chinese
(CHIN-3003 or CHIN-3503 / 3 credits)

Three language level courses are designed to develop students’ communications skills in standard Chinese. These courses emphasize oral expression and comprehension, but also includes instruction in Chinese characters. Moreover, the courses integrate Chinese culture to promote students’ cross-cultural awareness and understanding. Due to the great differences in Chinese and English, students will also be introduced strategies and skills for learning Chinese as a foreign language.

Classes and field-based language activities are taught by experienced, professionally trained, native-speaking teachers of Chinese as a foreign language using oral proficiency-based methods. Students are placed into this level of the language courses based on in-country oral proficiency interviews. These placements may not directly correspond to the student’s level at the home institution as SIT courses focus on communicative competence and linguistic functional ability.

Instruction consists of 45 hours of formal classes spread over a six-week period. Various teaching methods are employed, including in-class discussions on Chinese and U.S. subjects, recitations for aural comprehension, and intensive grammar exercises. Students are placed in small groups for language instruction and exercises. TVM- and TCM-related vocabulary supplements daily lessons. Additional hours of guided practice in Chinese are provided during the educational excursion period.

Homestays

Ho Chi Minh City

Stay for four weeks with a middle-class family in Ho Chi Minh City, a vibrant and cosmopolitan city representing the rapid changes underway throughout Vietnam. Homestay families often have multiple generations in one home and typically at least one university student about your age. Practice language skills with family members, learn about Vietnamese culture, and participate in discussions about Vietnamese life. Take part in family activities including family visits, weddings, and outdoor picnics. Whenever possible, visiting students and host families are matched according to professions and interests.

Career Paths

Students on this program may consider the following career and academic paths.

  • Working at an NGO in Washington, DC, New York, Los Angeles, or elsewhere

  • Graduate programs in law, medicine, business, or other fields

  • Volunteering with the Peace Corps or another organization in Asia

  • Returning to Vietnam to start a new businesses

  • Fulbright or other research scholarships

Faculty & Staff

Vietnam: Traditional Medicine & Community Health

Duong Van Thanh, EdD
Academic Director
Pham Thi Thu Hang
Language Teacher and Student Coordinator
Vu Hai Truong, MA
Program Coordinator

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

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