Growing up in Bellevue, Wash., DoQuyen Huynh struggled to reconcile the good fortune of her new life with the societal injustices she and her family faced as political refugees from Vietnam.
“Although we came to the U.S. because it is the land of opportunities, over time we also recognized that there were systemic inequalities that profoundly affected those of us of underprivileged backgrounds, my family included,” she says.
Those experiences inspired her to become a nurse practitioner and devote her practice to caring for underserved or “resilient” populations, as she calls them. Most of her patients at the International Community Health Services (ICHS) in Seattle’s International District are Southeast Asian and East African political refugees or immigrants with cultural, language and financial barriers.
Huynh believes nurse practitioners are critical to the future of community health care, but their success demands they receive post-graduate training akin to that for medical doctors.
The high turnover of practitioners in community health clinics could be significantly reduced is practitioners were better prepared, says Huynh, who believes advanced training is critical to reversing that trend.
“Nurse practitioners deserve the support of post-graduate training and patients deserve high-quality care regardless of socioeconomic status,” she says.
Huynh herself has three nursing degrees from Seattle University’s College of Nursing, including its highest practitioner level—a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). She developed and now directs the ICHS Nurse Practitioner (NP) Residency Program.
Seattle University’s College of Nursing perfectly matched her personal mission to serve people with limited financial and social resources. She distinguishes SU’s nursing program as one with “a soul.”
Since earning her DNP, Huynh has become a national voice for post-graduate nurse practitioner training. She advocates for federal funding and accreditation for field residency and fellowship programs and founded a Northwest consortium to promote collaboration among nursing residencies, fellowships and educational institutions. Her work has created an infrastructure to develop better-prepared primary care providers for today’s underserved populations.