Phuong Vo ’17
When Phuong Vo ’17 was applying for colleges from her home in Vietnam, she was immediately intrigued by the picturesque views she saw of New London on the Colby-Sawyer website. She says, “I thought the calm and serene environment at CSC would help me escape the city life I was born and raised in, and allow me to focus on my studies being so far away from home.”
Upon arriving to Colby-Sawyer, Phuong quickly transformed from a shy girl who was afraid of physical contact due to her cultural background, to a confident individual who embraces the power of touch to comfort her patients. “The nursing program at CSC changed my life and shaped me into the nurse that I am today. As one of the first two international nursing students in the program, I often came across challenges to obtain internships in the States due to my foreign status. The nursing faculty and staff helped me through the process so I could have more clinical experiences during my summer breaks,” Phuong explains.
While at Colby-Sawyer, Phuong was involved with the Student Nurses Association and worked at the Student Learning Collaborative as a microbiology tutor. During her junior year, Phuong was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International and Alpha Chi. She completed her externship and senior practicum in the Inpatient Pediatric/Adolescent Unit at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) and says she found her passion from her practicum. While on the pediatrics unit, Phuong grew interested in oncology. She says, “I was amazed by how a single diagnosis of cancer can affect multiple body systems, and how a combination of chemotherapeutic drugs can put the cancer in remission.” She now works as a clinical nurse on the Inpatient Medical Hematology/Oncology Unit at DHMC.
Phuong’s desire to become a nurse comes from her father. Her dad was a nurse in the Republic of Vietnam Army. He was about to study abroad in the United States in honor of his being the top of his class, but the fall of Saigon and the takeover of the communist party prevented him from doing so. He also was no longer allowed to practice as a nurse under the new government due to his history of serving the U.S. and the Republic of Vietnam. She says that story motived her to become and practice as a nurse on his behalf.
Phuong enjoys the patient and family interactions involved in her job. “I find it fulfilling to work the patient and their family through their new cancer diagnosis, and what lifestyle changes they have to make to keep the patient healthy. As I get to know the patients, I believe it is a little easier to identify subtle changes in their condition so I can intervene quickly to prevent further complications.”
In her spare time, Phuong loves to cook. She has mastered her technique with Asian dishes and is dabbling a bit with cooking western food. She also enjoys watching television, and one day hopes to own a cat.