The Diary of a Nurse in the MIM Program: Packing for Vietnam

I am leaving for Hanoi, Vietnam in a day to volunteer for CardioStart International as a Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) pediatric nurse — my first medical mission. My day job is a part time graduate business student at Portland State University’s Master in International Management (MIM) program. My night job is a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) nurse. I work 12-hour night shifts.

When I started the MIM program I worked full time but I have gradually dropped my hours (as I had planned) so I could spend more time on networking and relevant business internships –- both very valuable things to do while you are in business school, in my opinion.

I will be a member of an international medial team of approximately 35 professionals who are flying in to Vietnam from all over the world to work together and collaborate with Vietnamese medical professionals. In addition, our team will operate on patients who need heart surgeries, care for heart surgery patients, and provide support and education to local hospital staff in a new Cardiac specialty hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The CardioStart team consists of cardiovascular surgeons, anesthesiologists, operating nurses, both adult and pediatric intensive care nurses specializing in heart surgery patients, nurse educators, perfusionists, cardiologists, respiratory therapists, Vietnamese language translators, echo techs, an emergency medical technician, and even an electrician.

How do I pack for this “vacation?”  I am responsible for bringing a printer, a shopping bag of respiratory therapy supplies, and two additional shopping bags of medical supplies. I must take a detailed inventory (three pages!) of all of these items that will be donated to the hospital in Vietnam…very tedious business. Make that, international business.

In addition, I will be bringing my laptop, of course, because MIM would like me to blog about my trip. I will be bringing “American” candy since I have been told by a Vietnamese-American nurse that the Vietnamese love American candy — apparently they have an extreme love of gummy bears. So I am bringing gummy bears, sour gummies, and Nerds (who does not love Nerds?).

And I will pack bubbles and paper party blowers — it is the sneaky peds nurse way to get kids to exercise their lungs after surgery. I (reluctantly) decided not to buy the party blowers that make honking noises. Although fun, that is probably not so conducive to promoting rest in a hospital environment.

WSJ newspaper baggies and the bags that come from the dry cleaners (from business attire, of course) came in good use! The TSA will be very happy.


I got it all to fit, and the candy, too! (The little bag on the right is for my clothes.)

On a side note, you can get these hand sanitizers for free from PSU's student health! It will come in handy in Vietnam! Thanks, Student Health and Counseling (SHAC)!




Filed under Ali's Entries, Careers, Networking, Student Life, Student Profiles, Vietnam

2 responses to “The Diary of a Nurse in the MIM Program: Packing for Vietnam

  1. kelley

    i’ll be on a three week vacation in vietnam, leaving next week. i was wondering what small gifts to bring. now that you’ve been, do you have any tips? any specific american candies? thanks!!

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