The nursing profession was first recorded during the Roman Empire. Since then, the role has evolved significantly.
Nurses are often the first point of contact for patients – this means that they are the ones who talk patients through their symptoms and concerns. Doctors rely heavily on that information in order to provide the best care. Under the patient-centered medical home model, nurses are also responsible for making sure that patients have access to follow-up care as well as receive health education. Through this expanded role, patients are better able to manage their health and experience more positive outcomes.
The theme of this year’s National Nurses Week is “Inspire, Innovate, Influence.” In honor of the amazing contributions that our nurses have made in our community, we are proud to share some of their stories and hope they serve as inspiration for future nursing professionals.
Xue Mei Wang, RN
Xue Mei Wang has been with the Health Center almost her whole life. A Chinatown native, she started out as a pediatric patient before returning years later as a nurse. “After I got into nursing school, I was exposed to many different career routes,” she shares, “I really liked community health so I started volunteering at the Health Center right after graduating. It felt like the stars and moons had aligned when I came here.”
Xue Mei has always been interested in health care and was encouraged by her father to pursue a career in nursing. “When I first started at the Health Center, it was pretty hard for me,” she recalls, “but my coworkers were so supportive and paid attention to my progress. They catered the preceptorship to me.”
Over the years, Xue Mei has learned that being a nurse goes beyond treating illnesses. “You can’t just tell a diabetic patient not to eat rice when it’s part of their culture,” she explains. At the Health Center, nurses understand the socioeconomic factors that impact their patients, and their intimate knowledge of the community culture goes a long way in helping patients overcome the barriers that stand in the way of good health. Xue Mei is currently enrolled in a Master of Public Health program and looks forward to making a difference in the public health world.
Manyu Mei, RN
“Not a lot of jobs give you that sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in helping people,” says Manyu Mei. A part of our Ob/Gyn Department for the past two years, Manyu has found the field of nursing to be both unique and inspiring. “I have the privilege of helping people at their most vulnerable stage,” she explains, “and by doing my job, I get to make a huge impact in my patients’ lives.”
Manyu takes the holistic approach when it comes to patient care. Often, that means taking the time to speak with the individual and learning more about their lives. “Every time people express their appreciation, it gives me a huge motivation to keep doing what I’m doing,” she adds.
Manyu also notes that the Health Center environment is ideal for clinical workers. Working closely with her team on a daily basis, she has found a family in her colleagues.
Vanessa Huang, RN
Assistant Head Nurse, Internal Medicine
Vanessa Huang’s journey with the Health Center began more than 20 years ago. When she first stepped in the original Baxter Street location, she immediately noted the clinic’s popularity. “At the time, there weren’t too many bilingual nurses,” she explains. In fact, at her previous role in a hospital, she often found herself as the de facto translator.
Originally from Hong Kong, Vanessa experienced a bit of culture shock when she began practicing in the U.S. Compared to Asia, where nursing training was very formal, American nurses possessed a more freestyle approach – but the principle remained the same. “I like to move around and interact with people, that’s why I applied to be a nurse,” she says.
In the years she has been at the Health Center, Vanessa has developed long-lasting relationships with her patients and sees them as old friends. One patient, in particular, greets Vanessa with a hug every time they meet – “I asked her to go to the ER and she had refused. But I insisted. We got into a long conversation and she eventually went. The doctor said that if she didn’t come in, she might have lost her life. This kind of an event made me realize that I really did something meaningful.”
Looking ahead, Vanessa is excited about the future of health care: “We were the first place to get electronic medical records in the Chinatown area, there has been a lot of changes and I’d like to keep learning.”