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The REI-Azusa Pacific Student Nurse Program



Azusa Pacific University (APU) and REI teamed up this March in a special way: APU Professor Dayna Holt brought three nursing students, who are finishing their master’s program, to Hanoi for three weeks for observation, exposure and contribution. What happened during those three weeks? Read on...


This is the third year that APU has brought second-career nursing students to Hanoi, and the program seems to be hitting its stride. This year Dayna came with Joann Tolentino, originally from the Philippines, Cenny Boon, originally from Indonesia, and Tameika Carey, who hails from California.


“One of the highlights of the program for me was developing relationships with committed nurses with limited resources,” Joann said. “They have such a passion to improve, and show remarkable creativity in using what they have!” Cenny agreed. “The Vietnamese are an amazing people,” she said. “They are warm, hospitable, includers, and eager to learn.” Tameika commented that she learned much about the Vietnamese and the health care system in Vietnam, but also learned much about herself and her own untested ability to function and even thrive in a cross-cultural setting, far from family and friends. “This was life changing,” Tameika said.


The student nurses spent one week each in three different hospitals: Saint Paul’s Hospital, Bach Mai Hospital, and National Children’s Hospital. During their first week at Saint Paul’s, the students accompanied the hospital nurses and assisted in their daily care of patients, and gave presentations on Respiratory Assessment and Intervention and the related topic of Ventilator Associated Pneumonia (VAP). A lively discussion followed these presentations, with the hospital director taking part as well.


At Bach Mai our nursing students were shown the insider’s view of Hanoi’s largest general hospital, as well as Bach Mai’s Nursing College. Some of our partner hospitals are in need of advanced equipment, but Bach Mai’s Nursing College boasts several state-of-the-art simulator devices to facilitate training. The Vietnam of today is not the Vietnam of 20 years ago! The nursing students also gave a series of presentations: Respiratory Assessment, Oral Care for the Unconscious and Ventilated patient, and Infection Control.


National Children’s Hospital provided the third venue for the program. Our APU students toured different departments, including oncology and neurology, and observed various procedures and techniques. One child in the neurology department was having extreme difficulty breathing and was thought to be having convulsions. The child had low oxygen saturation and a severely slowed heart rate. Rather than letting the “convulsion” run its course (the local protocol), Dayna suggested that they suction the airway of the child. Her advice was accepted, the child was suctioned, and immediate improvement followed.




Dayna is a specialist in IV and PICC lines. When local nurses were having difficulty inserting an IV into the vein of a young child, Dayna showed them how to accomplish the task. Training others to meet the need, and not simply addressing the need directly, is part of the ethos of REI. When Dayna turned away from the child, she found a line of parents with their children, all hoping that Dayna would do the same for their little ones in need of the same procedure!


All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! Our team was also able to see some of the scenic beauty of the country. They visited world-renowned Halong Bay, the similarly gorgeous Ninh Binh, local sites such as Silk Village and the Museum of Ethnology. And a special invitation to a wedding, that of the son of National Children’s Hospital’s Chief Nurse, who has become one of Dayna’s dear friends, was extended to our team as well.


We are pleased with the outcome of these three weeks of observation and service. The nursing student program fits in well with what REI is doing, as we continue to partner with our dedicated colleagues in Vietnam and from Azusa Pacific. We are honored to travel this road together, and grateful for the sacrifices that many have made to make this collaboration possible. As we look to the future, we intend to continue this program to help build people to build nations!


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