The Association for Medical Education in the Western Pacific Region (AMEWPR, http://wfme.org/about/member-associations/amewpr), working with the country and regional offices of WHO, visited Vietnam in January 2016 for consultation on medical education reform, the quality assurance framework for medical education, and medical regulation. Michael Field, the president of AMEWPR, and Ducksun Ahn, vice-president of WFME, were the AMEWPR – WFME team. This was the second consultative visit of AMEWPR to Vietnam; the first was in 2014.
The visit extended over two days.
On day one, the experts and WHO personnel held a preliminary meeting, and the agenda for the visit was agreed: 1) curriculum development, 2) faculty development, 3) a national quality assurance framework for medical education development, and 4) development of regulation of the medical profession.
This preliminary meeting was followed by a high level roundtable attended by the Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Health (MOH), MOH officials, Vietnamese medical school deans, and visiting international expert panel. The objectives of the meeting were to have an overview of the current status of medical education in Vietnam and to have the Government lay down the vision and directions for the reform of medical education. The round table opened with a presentation from the Administration of Science, Training and Technology (ASTT) that presented an overview of Vietnamese medical education. The MOH followed ASTT to discuss the status quo and prompted an interactive discussion to exchange views between the international expert panel and stakeholders from Vietnam. The round table closed with the Vietnamese government presenting its intended vision and direction for medical education reform.
This round table showed that Vietnam is open to the accreditation of Basic Medical Education (BME) in the future. Compared to the impression of AMEWPR in 2014, Vietnam was becoming acquainted with the concept and practice of accreditation, and the approach of Vietnamese officials to BME accreditation and WFME policies showed progress. Everyone agreed on the WFME accreditation policy, although the Ministry of Education of Vietnam seemed to differ on policy and procedure. This incoherence indicated that the implementation process may face some obstacles.
On day two, about 85 participants, encompassing a broad group of stakeholders involved in implementation of accreditation (including World Bank delegates), attended the technical workshop. The objectives of the workshop were: 1) to present the vision and key milestones and roadmap for medical education reform in Vietnam and 2) to identify next steps for implementing this roadmap. Again, ASTT gave a presentation on government plans for medical education reform, and this was followed by the international experts’ presentation on the four key areas for reform. A break-out session followed the presentations. The attendees separated into four groups and defined specific needs for improvement in the respective key area of reform. These findings were reported in the subsequent plenary session.
The two day meeting ended with commentaries from the international expert panel and the MOH on their views for the next steps. After the technical workshop, the international expert panel, WHO and MOH Vietnam held a debriefing session to initiate discussion on long term support.
With these going international exchange efforts, the MOH of Vietnam shows that it understands and agrees on the importance of quality assurance, particularly for BME. WFME in collaboration with WHO, working with AMEWPR and the regional and country offices of WHO, has played a significant role in this change of stance from the Vietnam government and in initiating medical education reformation. WFME’s official partnership with WHO has enabled the organization to influence the government ministries (e.g. MOH, MOE) to a level other international organization cannot. Furthermore, WFME’s extensive involvement in every level of the reformation effort has made the organization a singular entity in this international policy arena. Vietnam is one of the best examples of how WFME supports the building up of a worldwide quality assurance framework for medical education. The AMEWPR, the regional member of WFME, is seminal to build the good accreditation practice in Vietnam. A future step will be the recognition of the accrediting agency of Vietnam by the WFME.