Minority Nurse recently caught up with David Nguyen, an early career nurse in Boston who decided when he was young that a career in nursing was his path. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Nguyen jumped full time into a role at Boston Medical Center where he enjoys working on a diverse team that provides care for a diverse population.

Committed to making a change in nursing, Nguyen is a member of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and the American Association for Men in Nursing. He’s also a Sigma Eta Omega /Nurse Leader.

Please tell me a little about your background and your current job.

I am a first-generation Vietnamese American college graduate. I aspire to leverage diversity as a tool to enhance understanding and compassion in the medical field. My goal as a nurse is to increase access to care, lessen patient stigma, and provide exceptional care. More specifically, my aim is to provide quality care to underserved populations, which includes people experiencing homelessness, intimate partner violence, immigrants, and people with substance-abuse disorders. Serving these vulnerable populations is important to me because they are often stigmatized and have negative health outcomes associated with social determinants of health.

I am currently a registered nurse at Boston Medical Center in the Medical Intensive Care Unit. I chose to work at Boston Medical Center because I’ve witnessed how the nurses and interprofessional staff execute skillful care on a daily basis to all of their patients without regard to their race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and culture, directly impacting social determinates of health for all patients.

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When did you realize nursing was the right career choice for you?

Early exposure to state-of-the-art care made nursing a sound career choice for me. At a young age, I was constantly in and out of a hospital for a physical ailment. I experienced doctors and nurses working diligently to provide the best care they could for me as a child in a low-income, non-English-speaking family. I aspired to be like them as they advanced the healing of people and promoted good health and well-being. Later on in my life, my grandmother was diagnosed with kidney cancer, and I became keener on medical professionals, specifically doctors and nurses. When I joined my grandmother during her chemotherapy treatments, I noticed how doctors reported diagnostics, while nurses served an essential role in helping the patient maintain good vigor and health. Ultimately, by observing the compassion and care of the nurses, I was inspired to choose nursing as a profession.

How did you decide on a specialty area of nursing and why are you drawn to that area?

I decided on my specialty area of critical care in my senior year of nursing school when I did my role transition nursing preceptorship clinical in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Boston Medical Center. I am drawn to critical care because of the team aspect of working with many interprofessionals, providing care for the patients and families during a vulnerable time. Critical care has taught me the importance of advocating for and honoring patients and families.

How has the transition from nursing school to full-time nurse been? What helped you along the way?

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My transition from nursing school to becoming a nurse has been smooth so far. I strongly feel that the University of Massachusetts Lowell nursing professors prepared me for real world experiences and nursing skills. As a new graduate at Boston Medical Center in MICU, I have many resources and support systems in place, which include my nurse educator, nurse managers, and nursing preceptor. Working with these professionals, who are knowledgeable and experienced, is helpful to my growth as a critical care nurse.

When we talk about diversity in nursing, it also includes male nurses because nursing is a profession dominated by women. How has your experience been being a male nurse? What do you bring to your patient care approach that you think is especially valuable?

At Boston Medical Center, I have felt welcomed as a male nurse presence since I work in a very diverse and supportive unit in the hospital. Knowing a second language has also been an asset as I can translate and converse with my Vietnamese patients. Sharing the language with Vietnamese patients helps me establish a sense of community and ensure that my patients feel comfortable and trust my care. Lastly, serving as a male nurse is important to my patients since it brings representation and changes to the nursing profession.

Have you had mentors or is there a particular person who has helped you in your nursing journey? Why is that important for a new nurse?

I had many mentors who have helped me in my nursing journey. One of my mentors in nursing school was my nursing professor advisor, who taught me the importance of resilience in achieving my degree as a nurse. Currently in my work environment, my mentors include my nurse educator, nurse preceptor, experienced ICU nurses, previous new grads nurses, and doctors. They helped me develop my critical thinking, nursing skills, and understanding as a new grad in the MICU. As a new nurse, I feel it is important to have a well-structured new grad nursing program,in which they provide support and resources both in and out of the hospital.

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Do you think the profession could use more male nurses?

I think the nursing profession could always use more male nurses because nurses provide care indiscriminately; there should be more diversity among staff members to represent the patients. Staff diversity and inclusion enables us to connect with and provide appropriate care for all patients.

What are your plans for the future?

My plan for the future is to become a nurse leader in the nursing profession. As a male nurse, I am working towards overcoming gender barriers and minority barriers with the goal of bringing diversity to the health care team.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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