In 2009 emergency medicine had not been officially established as a specialty in Vietnam. As a result of a non-government organization identifying the need to improve the delivery of emergency care, the Vietnam2010 Symposium in Emergency Medicine was held in Hue in March 2010. This involved 1 week of activity including: an Emergency Medicine Conference, providing lectures and practical workshops in topics of emergency medicine; a Deans' Conference, dedicated to the development of emergency medicine as a specialty; a Disaster and EMS Conference; and an Emergency Nursing Conference. Vietnam2010 was a high impact event and was successful in raising the profile of emergency medicine. It formalized key international linkages, showcased the role of the knowledge and skills relevant to emergency care and provided the impetus for emergency medicine specialization in Vietnam. A consensus document committing to the development of emergency medicine as a specialty in Vietnam was signed by multiple national and international governmental, university and emergency medicine representatives. Challenges included a tendency for international flagbearers from mature systems to promote the specialty according to local expectations, with a consequent emphasis on vertical specialty topics and on technology, and the running of medical and nursing conferences separately. Vietnam now needs a medium-term plan to develop the specialty to ensure these initial steps are translated into a sustainable capacity to provide emergency care nationally.