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Bridge between Vietnam and Lower Austria

Demographic change in Austria will present the healthcare system with ever-increasing challenges in the coming years. Several solutions are needed to counteract the situation effectively. For this reason, Lower Austria launched the "International Nursing College - German course for prospective nurses" project in summer 2023 on the initiative of Social Affairs Councillor Christiane Teschl-Hofmeister.

Unterzeichnung Memorandum of Understanding in Vietnam

A Memorandum of Understanding was officially signed by the partners Hanoi University, IMC Krems and the state of Lower Austria at a ceremony. Front from left to right: Markus Golla, Christiane Teschl-Hofmeister, Nguyễn Văn Trào and Ulrike Prommer; back from left to right: Udo Brändle, Alfred Zens, Filip Deimel, Hans Peter Glanzer and Heinz Boyer. Photo credit: © Phong Truyen Thong

State Councillor Christiane Teschl-Hofmeister and a delegation consisting of representatives from IMC Krems, politics, the State Health Agency, Senecura and media representatives travelled to the city of Hanoi to learn about the progress of the project and to make contact with local partners.

Opening ceremony

On Thursday, 14 March 2024, the University of Hanoi opened the entire project with an official ceremony. All 150 participants of the German programme, their families, companies involved in this project in close cooperation, including the SOS Children's Village, as well as media representatives from all over the country were invited. The entire ceremony was rehearsed by the students of the German programme, who performed Vietnamese songs and dances during the official speeches. In this context, a Memorandum of Understanding was officially signed by the partners Hanoi University, IMC Krems and the state of Lower Austria.

The ceremony showed how happy the participants are about the training programme "German course for prospective nursing staff".

Intensive language training for a good start

The concept of the "International Nursing College" takes a completely different approach to the mere recruitment of ready-made nurses, which the WHO and the ICN (International Nursing College) in particular are ethically opposed to. All people who want to work in Austria receive intensive German language training via the University of Hanoi, one of the oldest language universities in the country, which ends in 2025 with the B2 level. The course not only teaches the German language, but also deals with the culture of Austria and the basic values of Austrian care. This is a perfect starting package for the further course.

After successfully completing the B2 language course, the participants come to Austria to begin their training as nursing assistants at the International Nursing College. The Lower Austrian curriculum is taught entirely in German so that the trained colleagues enter the professional world with the highest standards.

Joint research opportunities in the healthcare sector

In order to generate a further win-win situation, agreements are already in place with Vietnam to bring desired training topics in the nursing and healthcare sector to Vietnam. Topics such as oncology, prevention and advanced nursing practice are clearly in the foreground here. The desired topics and cooperation were identified at an official meeting with the management of Hanoi's largest hospital and the participants are looking forward to additional joint research opportunities that could arise between Hanoi, IMC Krems and the provincial health agency.

Enthusiasm on the part of the participants

The trip ended with a visit to the SOS Children's Village to see the place where some of the participants grew up. There they were able to tell their personal stories and what motivated them to take part in this project.

The trip to Vietnam showed the participants the enthusiasm with which everyone is involved, that all steps have been ethically well considered and that these are young people who are keen to be pioneers and whose dream is to go to Austria.

Provincial Councillor Christiane Teschl-Hofmeister: "Even though our Lower Austrian Provincial Health Agency is at an all-time high with around 28,000 employees, more hard-working hands and bright minds are urgently needed. Our experts tell us that due to the current labour shortage in all sectors, we will not be able to make do with Austrian specialists in the future. We are therefore pulling out all the stops to meet the demand in the coming years and decades. We offer the best possible support and funding for nursing training in our country. But we also have an obligation to our countrymen and women in need of care and to our carers that we strive to provide even more support. Support in the form of international co-operation, as we have created here together. This cooperation is a shining example of the power of collaboration across national borders. Through our joint commitment, we are providing young people from Vietnam with excellent training as carers in Lower Austria, the valuable nursing and care staff in Lower Austria with additional support that is urgently needed and the residents with professionally trained, motivated and highly committed staff in their homes."

Alfred Zens, CEO of the Lower Austrian LGA, commented: "We met many highly motivated students in Hanoi who already have a good command of German after just a few months of study. We are very much looking forward to welcoming them to Austria in a year's time, where they will start their nursing training at the INC Krems and later come to the Lower Austrian Health Agency's facilities for practical training."

Markus Golla, Head of Institute Nursing Science and INC Project Manager, adds: "It was particularly important to us to create a win-win situation for everyone involved (participants, Austria, Vietnam). I am all the more pleased that the enthusiasm is so great and that we can already speak of a successful project. The high level of language skills will certainly be a good basis for the future of nursing care."

The aim of the project is to build a bridge between Vietnam and Lower Austria, says Ulrike Prommer, CEO of IMC Krems: "Together we are creating a new path for education in general and the lives of many people in particular."