By Zachary Nelson
Ever since he was a kid, Alvin Duong knew he wanted to heal people.
“My mom was sick a lot while I was a growing up,” he said. “We would go to the doctor, and afterward she would get better. I was always amazed at how the process worked, so I wanted to learn how the doctors did it. I wanted to be the one who could take the pain away from my mom.”
Many years later when Duong, a Biology major at the University of Washington Bothell, heard about Swedish Medical Center’s Community Outreach Prevention and Education Health Scholars program, he knew he had to apply. The clinical job consists of feeding patients, checking their vitals, helping them walk and taking initiative to improve each patient’s experience.
“As someone who wants to work in the medical field, especially the ICU, getting hands-on experience while in college can be hard to find,” Duong said. “This seemed like a rare opportunity to gain experience doing work closely related to what I want to do after graduation.”
Duong, who was promoted to an intern supervisor position, says that he learned a lot at his job but that his success is also due to his education. “Every day, I apply something I’ve learned in class,” he said.
One of Duong’s favorite tasks is observing procedures in the operating room. While he says that some got nervous during the operation, he loved the chance to gain more experience. “The physicians I worked with are highly skilled in their specialty,” he said. “I constantly looked for more opportunities to learn from them.”
One aspect that surprised and also inspired Duong was the high volume of patients who were young and came for help with their mental health. “To see people who are the same age or younger than I am so depressed and anxious that they couldn’t cope with life was hard to deal with,” he said. “I think mental health is an often-overlooked part of care but an extremely important one that shouldn’t be ignored.”
Returning to school to finish his senior year, Duong has committed to working even more diligently on his grades and challenging himself to push a little harder.
“The medical field is exactly where I want to be,” said Duong, who hopes to become a doctor. “I am more determined than ever to finish strong so that I can go back to healing people.”