When growing up, Dr Nguyen Manh Hung was advised that while he wouldn’t starve, choosing to practice medicine would never make him rich, and, compared to other jobs, there would be considerably more things to worry about. Despite this, Nguyen Manh Hung still decided to wear the white coat and now, with more than 15 years in the profession, he is now the Head of Neurosurgery & Spine Surgery Unit at FV Hospital. During his career, even though the advice was correct, he has no regrets in following his career path, sharing “from the beginning, I was chosen to be a doctor.”
“Economically, studying medicine was the best choice for me at that time”
Dr Manh Hung’s father was also a doctor and when hearing that his son was planning to pursue this career as well, he tried to stop him. For his father, over the many years that he practiced medicine in his hometown, he felt that working to treat others, while noble, was too burdensome. He shared that for doctors there is a great pressure in “Having to please everyone”. Be it day or night, during or outside working hours, a doctor must always be ready to help patients in need. Looking back at his own life, his father wanted Manh Hung to choose another path, one in which was easier and more stable.
When faced with the important choice of what career ladder to climb, Dr Manh Hung shared “Honestly, at the time, I did not know what I wanted to study and the reason that I chose medicine was not planned”. Motives such as compassion, love for people and wanting to help others, are often mentioned when doctors are asked why they do what they do. For Dr Manh Hung, however, the main reason he chose a career as a doctor was down to the costs of going into further education.
At that time, Dr Manh Hung was faced with many possible career options, however, he shared “At the moment I entered the university, the cost of books or school fees were a big factor for me. At my house, my father had a lot of medical books. So, at the time, I thought if I chose another career path, I will have to spend money for buying new books. Learning medicine was the best affordable solution for me to pursue a career path.” Such practical thinking brought him to the lecture halls of Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine.
Dr Manh Hung always said that he was chosen to be a doctor and he came to this profession with almost no reason. Despite this, during Dr Manh Hung’s childhood, he was slowly acquiring experience and knowledge in the field of medicine. From observing his father working, being surrounded by medical books to helping take care of the patients to support his father.
Dr Manh Hung shared “Although my father did not say anything, I believe that he was proud that his son followed his career.” On reflection, Dr Manh Hung wondered whether his career choice 20 years ago may have been more planned than he realised.
Asking the patients what they want
Despite Dr Hung Manh’s decision to choose medicine through more practical reasoning rather than for passion alone, he chose to focus in the field of Neurosurgery which is considered to be one of the most difficult specialities in the medical field. When questioned why he chose this speciality, in a calm, gentle and brief manner, Dr Manh Hung simply said “if everyone does the easy things, who will do the difficult ones”.
Neurological diseases and injuries have different levels of difficulty. For Dr Manh Hung, handling each case requires different medical methods, but there is one common point he consistently attends to, the wishes of each patient. Dr Manh Hung shared “At FV Hospital, we have expert human resources and excellent facilities, but the most important thing is ensuring that we must combine them to meet the wishes of the patients when they visit our hospital”. A harmonious combination between the doctor’s abilities and the hospital’s facilities is considered the best formula to bring the most benefits to patients.
Dr Manh Hung regards the abilities and competences of doctors to be incredibly important. Their expertise are not just for detecting and treating diseases, but also for predicting potential risks and complications, and then being able to explain them comprehensively to patients. Additionally, a doctor must also be fully ready to solve any such complications if they do occur. However, the more confident a doctor is when conducting surgery, the more cautious and aware of potential risks he should be. Dr Manh Hung went on to reveal “When you start to pick up the scalpel, you have to think about the end of the operation”. He shared that for Neurosurgery, each case is like opening a door and the doctor needs to know in advance what it will be like inside the room.
Speaking on the profession of a doctor, Dr Manh Hung’s father shared that while there may be ways to compensate for mistakes caused, for a doctor’s conscience, there is no way to recover from them. Dr Manh Hung shared that each job had its own difficulty, whether it is sometimes the pressure before undertaking a complicated surgery or times where in his heart he was not satisfied with the operation. In such times he felt hesitant and asked himself why did he choose to study medicine in the first place. However, in life, things can be solved, as Dr Manh Hung shares “In such difficult times, I often think about every case that was successfully treated and encourage myself to find ways to overcome such times. If I just give up, it’s inconsequential”. Dr Manh Hung has a very special memory, with the ability to remember hundreds of cases that he treated in the past. This includes medical records, treatment methods, patients’ relatives and the patients’ specific diseases. Once again, Dr Manh Hung’s choice to become a doctor and to learn neurosurgery has a sense of predestination. Dr Hung shared that in the past, when thinking about the future, he wanted to become a diplomat so he could travel to many places around the world. A job which confined him inside four walls he thought was something that would not fit him at all. However, when becoming a doctor, sitting in the middle of a clinic, the desire for him to travel is not as strong as it once was. For Dr Nguyen Manh Hung, ensuring the health of a patient’s nervous system, with its complexities and size, is a journey within itself. Each time he consults a new patient, he begins a new expedition with his expertise as a neuroscientist.