During this past Summer, I've had the opportunity to exercise my passions, gain valuable experience for my future career, and learn more about my Filipino culture. While reflecting on my Summer, I was able to see the interconnectedness of these experiences and the values and principles of what it means to be a Lambda.
It's important to note that my parents immigrated to the United States around the 1990s. With my dad finishing off his residency and my mom attending Northwestern University to obtain her MBA in marketing, it's safe to say that they've undergone a huge cultural change. Since the pandemic, my parents and I haven't been able to visit the Philippines since 2020. With that being said, this trip was of great importance to my entire family. During my two-week stay in the Philippines, I spent most of my time living at my grandparent's house. One significant contrast between American and Filipino household cultures is the extent and nature of services offered by domestic helpers, also referred to as 'maids.'
Maids are responsible for participating in all household chores–such as cooking, cleaning, running errands, etc. Another significant contrast between American and Filipino cultures is the level of hospitality provided. In every restaurant and store I visited, I observed a profound sense of dignity and genuine warmth displayed by all the employees whenever a customer entered their establishment. An example of this could be seen when I was picking up a takeout order from a restaurant called Jollibee–which is known for its Filipino-style fried chicken. When I walked into the restaurant, I was quickly greeted and directed to an area to sit down. Since the order was taking longer than expected, a worker handed me complimentary juices and small dishes as a token of my patience. The level of enthusiasm and kindness displayed by the Filipino employees is the attitude I wish to emulate one day. In addition to meeting a handful of relatives I've never met before, I've gained a deeper level of respect for the culture and a deeper appreciation of what it means to be a citizen of the United States. Knowing that one of the four pillars of Lambda Chi is patriotism, I connected my experiences during this family gathering to the values and principles I hold as a member of this fraternity.
After I visited the Philippines, I got certified to be a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). It's important to note that for Physician Assistant school, one of the prerequisites to even apply in the first place is to obtain 1000 hours of patient care experience. Patient care experience is typically obtained from shadowing, volunteer work, and occupational work. The two clinical sites I've worked at are a hospital and a nursing home. For the first two weeks of clinical, my duties and responsibilities were surveilled by either a licensed healthcare provider or my clinical instructor. For me to become certified, I needed to complete 21 skills. Failure to complete those skills within the four weeks of the program resulted in an automatic failure of the class. Although the skills were not too difficult, the main challenge was to find willing patients to be "volunteers." It's important to note that at least 50% of the tasks required the patients to be in vulnerable states—without clothes, incontinence, uncomfortable positions, etc. With that being said, a sense of provider-to-patient trust is essential for a quality healthcare interaction.
Because our badges indicate that we are only "students" rather than "licensed practitioners", there is an immediate mental obstacle that arises prior to any initial patient interaction. I discovered that the key to getting by this obstacle was to look confident and communicate effectively. Before even asking a patient if I could practice one of my skills on them, I would ask them how they are doing, their preferred name, and if it was okay if I could enter their room. I would always pull a chair over to the bed, enabling me to hear the patient better and maintain eye contact. Over time, I've learned that utilizing nonverbal cues works wonders for setting the tone for a quality healthcare interaction. A smile and an energetic voice can go a long way.
From working in a hospital, I've learned the importance of service, which is another core teaching of Lambda Chi. Despite being in an entry-level position, I realized that I have as much of a role in a patient's healthcare outcome as a licensed physician would. Lambda Chi Alpha's commitment to service aligns perfectly with what I've learned in the hospital – there is innate value in selflessly giving to improve the lives of others. In my role, I saw how a genuine spirit of service could ease the burden of illness and promote healing physically, emotionally, and mentally.