This post is written by guest writer and 2nd year MEPN student, Binh Mach
What Does It Mean To Become an American?
October 23, 2018 was a special day for me, since that was the day that I became a naturalized U.S citizen. I was so delighted when Dr. Close and her husband participated in my American Citizenship Ceremony. They are very supportive to me in becoming a naturalized American Citizen, and I really appreciate their kindness. They are such wonderful people, and I wish that more people were like the two of them. So, what does it mean to become an American? Literally, in my eyes to be an American means that I have privileges, rights, and freedom that many other people around the world do not have. For me, being an American Citizen is a time to look back to see what I have done during the past five years of living in this country while I was preparing to be a successful citizen of the USA.
My reasons for moving to the United States were very simple – to have an opportunity to become a student in a top ranked University and to have the chance to practice as a healthcare professional. With a background as a healthcare provider in Vietnam with 10 years of experience, I had to decide whether I was going to make a concerted effort to move to the US or not? Finally, I made the right decision to immigrate to this country. During the first two years, I enjoyed being a medical scribe at a family doctor clinic, where I learned how to become a preventive healthcare professional. I interacted with a variety of medical professionals and conducted a wide range of simple medical tasks, from collecting vital signs and obtaining medical histories to offering consultation while working with my providers. I appreciated the opportunity to work with outstanding individuals who were not only scientifically rigorous, but also humane in their dealings with colleagues and patients. However, I was struck by two common chronic ciseases – hypertension and diabetes. Most patients in my clinic did not clearly understand either disease. I am also frustrated by the rate of chronic kidney disease, a very preventable disorder that often results in expensive transplants or a lifetime of dialysis, both of which could have been avoided by better preventative care.
While being in the Nursing Program at USD, I appreciate the fact that I have a great opportunity to take part in clinical rotations at the very best hospitals in San Diego. For example, I felt my heart skip a beat when I witnessed a patient sign the consent to undergo an amputation of their legs due to delayed foot ulcers associated with diabetes. I have felt tears in my eyes when I have been involved with my patients and these situations develop, and it pains me to know that we are able to prevent hypertension and diabetes from happening in the first place. I felt also guilty while taking care of the patients with amputations. The more that I communicated with these patients the more I sympathized with them. From now on, they must depend on medical devices to do something as simple as getting out of bed in the morning. I cannot believe that it is so common to see it occur in this country. After all, we are supposed to have the best preventive healthcare system in the world! While communicating with these patients, I recognized that they all lacked basic knowledge about the importance of preventing and treating diabetic foot ulcers. We still need dedicated healthcare educators in all our communities. We have an even bigger gap in the underserved populations. Currently, I am a part-time cardiovascular sonographer at the Anaheim Medical Group. I am happy to be involved in detecting early stages of peripheral arterial disease associated with diabetes and helping develop a plan of care with local providers in order to prevent leg amputations.
I have become very passionate about the concept that good medicine not only comes from bottles and boxes, but also from the heart and feelings of the caregiver. As a dedicated healthcare professional, we will work to excel not only technically and medically, but also as communicators who take the time to talk to patients about how to quit smoking, lose weight, and exercise. These human touches will be my true measure of career satisfaction. “Prevention is better than cure”.
I might not be like most of my classmates who want to work in well-known hospitals such as Sharp, UCSD, Scripps etc. For me, my prospective workplace will be a clinic that takes care of the underserved populations who lack knowledge about disease prevention or how to deal with complications when they suffer a particular condition. I cannot wait until May of 2019 – my graduation day from MEPN at USD. After May 2019, I’ll be able to transfer to become an Advanced Nurse Specialist as a Family Nurse Practitioner to have more privileges in caring for patients. My passion is to be able to educate patients about preventive medicine. In my opinion, prevention plays such an important role. That is the only way to reduce the number of people suffering from preventable diseases such as non-trauma amputation associated with diabetes as well as chronic kidney disease.