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Sorng Sophirom: Shares his experience of working and studying in the medical field in France

It’s not easy becoming a medical doctor; people have to spend a lot of time and energy achieving a medical licence since it is a doctor’s job to save lives. Some study and train abroad in order to strengthen kills in their specialty. For instance, Sorng Sophirom, 28, is currently working on a two-year training program in France.

Before going to France, Phirom spent nine years (2002-2011) studying medical science, specialising in hepato-gastroenterology. Since Phirom is an A-student with a high school diploma, he received a scholarship to study medical science at University of Health Sciences in 2002.

Normally the scholarship sponsors only six years to study general medicine. After six years and finishing his degree, Phirom decided to take the exam to continue on to become a specialist. Only students who want to become specialists are able to take the exam to continue for an additional two years.

“Among 30 applicants, only eight students got into the class,” Phirom said. “I am lucky to be able to study hepato-gastroenterology but during my studying I will have to pay out-of-pocket because my scholarship ended.”

“Since there is a relationship between French hospitals and my university, I decided to apply for training in France for an additional two years. Getting this training depends on the score we got in specialist training and our level of French language.

There are only five or six students able to get this training each year. I have to pay each expense on my own, but with this training, I am paid a salary.” Phirom added.

After arriving in France in October 2011, the different cultural environment has changed Phirom’s life. “When I first got here, it was a bit difficult to adopt to the culture and language, but two months later, everything was fine.”

Phirom works six days a week from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm. Every morning he sees patients and discusses treatment options with the senior doctor. He also has to opportunity to go to the operation room and perform endoscopies to gain more knowledge.

Phirom not only works but also studies in an extra course at University of Claude Bernard Lyon 1. “The extra class is related to my skill in hepato-gastroenterology. Phirom’s home and office are both in Lyon and he must do training in order to study at University in Paris.

As an intern at the hospital, Phirom has two weeks vacation time per six months. He spends his time off studying.

“As a foreigner training in here at first, I must show them what I know and what I can do and to make them accept me and have confidence in me because I want them to have a good impression of foreigners. They might think I am not as intelligent as them. If I do not have good relationship and show my abilities, they won’t allow to me participate in the actual work,” Phirom said.

Phirom has learned many things in France that he never before encountered in Cambodia.

“In Cambodia I had few chances to practise because it’s expensive and the hospital didn’t allow us to do much. In France, however, I’ve had ample opportunities to practise and learn the functions of the machines, which they do not yet have in Cambodia,” Phirom said.

“The way they treat patients is different because they have the latest technology and medicine. I have to spend time learning about them. Also, the medical system is completely different from Cambodia since they have social support for their patients who are all treated equally.”

Phirom said to treat one patient, all doctors related to the patient must be contacted to know the patient’s medical history. While in Cambodia, patients don’t really have any documents.

Phirom will finish his study and training in October and will come back to Cambodia shortly after. “First, I have to find a job in a public hospital and I hope I can use what I have learned. I never imagined I’d work abroad, and it was a great experience.

But I want to return and work in my country,” Phirom said.

“When I come back, I will be committed to being a good doctor and helping all patients as much as I can while treating them equally. I will use what I learned in France to develop our medical system in Cambodia,” Phirom said.

In closing, Phirom suggests that young people try to focus their studies on their abilities. Youth should not cheat to get their diplomas because in Cambodia, there is a great need for educated people to develop the country.



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