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Dr Do Trong Khanh’s journey from seeking quality to becoming a Medical Director

When the light at the staff parking lot shines on empty spaces as everyone has already gone home, there is usually one person still sitting in his car, reflecting on the events of the day. That person is FV’s Medical Director Dr Do Trong Khanh, an excellent surgeon, renowned among his colleagues as a shining star in the field of gastrointestinal cancer surgery.

Leaving the operating room, the well-known doctor often receives applause and congratulations. But, even though he has successfully treated most difficult cases, there is no success without failure. Even when a surgery was performed perfectly, there are some patients that did not make it. “I suffer the pain with my patients and their families after each failure. I want to find the cause and think about how to improve everything,” says Dr Do Trong Khanh.

GROWING THROUGH UNDERSTANDING HIS PATIENTS’ PAIN

In Traditional Chinese medicine, Do Trong is considered precious. Do Trong Khanh was named for that perception, carrying the beliefs and expectations of the family to follow tradition and become a doctor. At an early age, the boy named for precious medicine followed his parents to the hospital and had the opportunity to learn about the work of a doctor, and his desire to care for and cure people was gradually nurtured. Growing up, his passion to become a physician intensified and became his motivation to study as a resident of General Surgery at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Ho Chi Minh City.

After gaining solid medical training, after graduating in 2004, Dr Do Trong Khanh quickly adapted to the job of abdominal surgeon under the General Surgery Department of Cho Ray Hospital.

At the beginning of his career, many friends and colleagues wondered: “There are many specialties to study, why choose to be an abdominal surgeon, often in contact with patients’ waste, and continuously exposed to various complications and risks?”

He said: “My single goal is to help those with serious illnesses to be cured. Only when people put themselves on a difficult path do they think of solutions to overcome it. I want to try harder to create new solutions.”

Dr Do Trong Khanh worked long hours at one of the leading hospitals in the city, receiving the most serious cases. When too many patients needed care, often three patients had to share the same bed. The stressful environment makes treatment difficult, especially when facing the potential death of a patient. Even a skilled team of doctors, nurses and technicians still sometimes could not save the patient’s life. At such times, Dr Do Trong Khanh usually gave himself a space to think and review things and sometimes was so overcome with emotion that he burst into tears.

THE ONE FINDING “QUALITY”

Working at Cho Ray Hospital, Dr Do Trong Khanh developed his professional skills and continued to learn from many other leading doctors in Vietnam. However, when thinking about his patient’s situation and about the pain they were suffering, Dr Do Trong Khanh was determined to find a new direction to improve the quality of care he could offer his patients.

His passion to constantly improve was further intensified after Dr Do Trong Khanh completed his doctorate at Shiga University in Japan in 2013. Returning to Vietnam, his knowledge had further improved but he still wondered: “How can our country’s medical industry catch up with the rapid development of Japan? Every day I can operate well on three to five cases, and thousands over my lifetime, but will it help Vietnam’s medical industry become more developed?”

After long consideration, Dr Do Trong Khanh decided to stop being a surgeon after 12 years (2005 to 2016)  giving up everything that he had built for many years to focus on learning about the term “Quality”. He came to know about Joint Commission International (JCI) – a prestigious organisation in the world which certifies safety and quality in treatment for patients and hospital management. Dr Do Trong Khanh recognised that any hospital that wanted to build a high-quality medical system always needed a master planning specialist for the hospital, and dedicated himself to understanding the mission and path to becoming a Medical Director.

A COMMON VOICE ON HOSPITAL QUALITY

In August 2019, FV Hospital welcomed its first Vietnamese Medical Director, Dr Do Trong Khanh, who is in charge of planning roadmaps for FV’s various specialties and ensuring quality care is delivered for the safety of the patient.

Dr Do Trong Khanh’s dream to build a quality medical system in Vietnam, in parallel with the development of FV’s Hy Vong Cancer Care Centre, means that FV Hospital has become a place for him to fulfill his ambition “to cure cancer for Vietnamese people with the best methods and techniques, reducing the burden on the poor.”

According to Dr Do Trong Khanh, hospital development must be upgraded step by step. In order to apply new techniques, there must be a good system of equipment, good facilities, and – most importantly – a team of talented medical doctors. He has a great responsibility to attract talent to FV, enabling key hires to develop their skills and career, thereby building a cohesive collective that creates great value for patients.

The longer he stays in the medical field, the more Dr Do Trong Khanh understands his patients’ feelings and concerns. They need safety, quality and also sharing of information, which is the mission of modern hospitals today. In order to contribute to promoting the medical industry, not only at FV but also other hospitals in Vietnam, he is seeking out other professionals with the same desire to build a professional medical model and working to nurture more dedicated, knowledgeable medical directors.