Second Year PA Student Blog: Chi Nguyen

Friday, July 26, 2019

Chi Nguyen
Chi Nguyen, PA-S

It is hard to believe that there is only one week left of clinical year. Ten years ago when I was working as a manager for my family’s construction business, I didn’t even know what a PA was, much less think I’d be back in school, and married with a 3-year-old son. Now, six years after learning about this amazing profession, I will soon be a PA and have the privilege of being a trusted member of patients’ lives.

As I reflect back on this year, I am grateful for all the kind preceptors who patiently took the time to answer my questions, and engage and teach me during their busy working hours. I was especially fortunate to have the opportunity to do a longitudinal rotation (one clinic location for primary care, women’s health, and pediatrics rotations) at Vance Family Medicine in rural Henderson, N.C. Dr. Vu allowed me to get hands-on experience with everything that he did. It seemed overwhelmingly hard to keep up with him at first, but I learned the most when I took the initiative to be as independent as possible while working in this safe and supervised environment.

The morning would begin by reviewing lab results, followed by seeing a variety of patients — including newborns, adults, pregnant women, and all ages in between. Before lunch, we would make daily rounds at the local nursing home. Sometimes, we would get calls to go to the hospital across the street to do a circumcision before afternoon clinic started. Once a week was a procedure day, where Dr. Vu would perform his scheduled colonoscopies and/or endoscopies. If he was on call, we would round on patients at the hospital and I would have the coveted privilege of helping to deliver a new life into the world. Needless to say, it was amazing to witness and learn from the multitude of knowledge and skill that Dr. Vu holds in his rural practice.

I also cherished every time a preceptor took the time to explain medical concepts to me in a manner that I could easily understand and remember. I especially loved the “chalk talks” given by Dr. Gore, a cardiologist in rural Clyde, N.C. He would sit down and review a topic one-on-one with me while writing key notes for a 10,000-foot view of his approach to a subject like atrial fibrillation. In my dermatology elective rotation, Ms. Jessica Wagoner has been phenomenal in capitalizing on the visual teaching points in the patient rooms while never passing judgement if I did not know the answer to her prompt. As a Duke PA graduate herself, she recognizes that questions are not only asked to allow students to form their own opinion and apply critical knowledge, but also to create a launching point for a discussion where the preceptor can meet students at their level of understanding.

The list goes on, as there are many other wonderfully supportive preceptors who have positively shaped my future practice habits as a PA. All in all, I cannot say how thankful I am to the countless preceptors who have put forth such effort to welcome and educate students like me and I know my classmates share the same sentiment. As I look to gather more experience and wisdom while practicing in rural health primary care, I hope that I will have the ability, patience, and courage to one day return this invaluable gift of clinical education to others.

Chi Nguyen is a second-year student with the Duke Physician Assistant Program. Email with questions.
Editor’s note: Duke Physician Assistant Program students blog twice a month. Blogs represent the opinion of the author, not the Duke Physician Assistant Program, the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, or Duke University.