Stanford Program Helps Vietnamese RN Realize His Eldercare “Calling”

At only age 28, Chi Mai, is a dedicated registered nurse, but it’s not just his profession. “It’s my calling,” he emphasized. “I’m a devout Catholic and my ultimate goal being a nurse is to save as many lives as possible and to make as much improvement and changes for as many people as possible, especially immigrant Americans.” In particular, through a special program at Stanford University, Mai focused on helping Vietnamese seniors and family members to create advance directives for health care — documents enabling people to state how they wish to be treated at the end of life, if they become too ill to speak for themselves, and who should make their medical decisions. An immigrant from Vietnam who came to the United States at the age of nine, Mai grew up in a tough neighborhood where he saw many gang activities and people suffering without health care. Mai originally wanted to be a pharmacist and was accepted to Boston University, but he changed his mind. “I found nursing to be more of my temperament,” he said.

Mai practices what he called “backpack nursing.” On his free time, he carries a big backpack full of unexpected goodies. “I go to San Francisco, San Jose, and San Leandro and bring homeless people socks and pain relievers,” he said. Are there homeless Vietnamese? “Yes, quite a few,” he answered. “It’s sad. Some choose a homeless lifestyle, others lost their livelihood because of their gambling or alcohol addiction.” But the saddest part, Mai said, is to see “a whole family falling into homelessness.” In 2012, Mai attended the Palliative Care Education and Training program for improving end-of-life care, held at Stanford University School of Medicine. His participation turned out to have a big effect on the Vietnamese community in San Jose. According to V.J. Periyakoil, MD, director of the program, Mai’s project for the training course “addresses the issue of how Vietnamese adults are unaware of the existence of advance health care directives. Those are documents that aid older adults in planning ahead for their towards-the-end-of-life care and guarantees that their standards of care will be met by hospitals and medical facilities.”

Source/more: New America Media

David Wingate is an elder law attorney. He practices in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. The elder law practice comprises of wills, powers of attorneys, trusts, asset protection and Medicaid.

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