Some traveled for three days through the humid air of Vietnam to get to the clinic offered by Victoria Tung ’96 and her colleagues.
“We were in one of the poorest regions of Vietnam,” Tung says. Over the course of a week, the all-volunteer Venture to Heal team offered two clinics, treating nearly 1,300 people. “We had a 67-year-old man who had never before seen a health care provider.”
“I have always been interested in global health issues and in serving people in underprivileged areas,” Tung says. That passion led her to her first jobs after graduating from WSU with a nutrition degree, working as a registered dietician in the San Francisco area.
Later, she says, “I wanted to do more for patients in terms of diagnosing their medical problems and providing direct care.” In 2010, Tung started work on a graduate physician assistant program. She graduated with her PA degree in 2012.
Tung says that her time at WSU gave her a great beginning in health care. She particularly remembers her anatomy course. “We worked on cadavers,” she says. A little gruesome? Maybe, but she points out the distinct advantage over other schools that use color-coded plastic models. “Those are easier to deal with,” she says, “but working with a cadaver is more clinically accurate.”
The team of 50 that worked together in Vietnam consisted of two MDs and three PAs, as well as nurses, radiology technicians—and family members. Tung says there was plenty for everyone to do—even nonprofessionals, who helped intake patients and guide them through the clinic’s processes.
“Would I do it again? Yes! But I want to wait until my son, Kai, is a little older so he can experience it with me.” Medical missions are “a lot of hard work, but you not only get to work side by side with others who share your passion, you also learn about other cultures while you’re there.”