Volunteer Spotlight: Thao Vu Doan

The American International Health Alliance would like to congratulate and acknowledge Thao Vu Doan, a VHC Volunteer who just returned from 3 months in Johannesburg, South Africa where she worked as a Clinical Associates Mentor at the University of Witwatersrand. Thao, a U.S.-based Physician’s Assistant worked previously at the Duke University Bone Marrow & Stem Cell Transplant Program prior to joining the Volunteer Healthcare Corps (VHC). Thao brought a wealth of experience as a Physician’s Assistant to WITS University and the Clinical Associates Program.

A post-interview conducted with the Head of Division of Clinical Associates, Scott Smalley, showed just how much Thao was valued as a part of the team at WITS. When asked how Thao adjusted the environment in South Africa, Scott responded “She blended very well. It was a shock her first time gong to the clinic to see what some of these South African conditions look like. Certainly the medicines are different, but she adapted quite well. The one thing I appreciated so much about her is she would come with the perspective of the full patient, which not all clinicians look at.” And the main takeaway from her time there was that “She knew what she was doing, she brought that clinical experience and knowledge. She was willing to step in and say “how can I help you today”. Also she would say no, I don’t feel comfortable, and that’s actually quite a nice thing. She was very clear to say that this is something she is not yet able or comfortable doing. The students took to her, and they enjoyed seeing someone new!”

As much as WITS benefitted from Thao’s great work, Thao was able to gain just as much from this partnership! Thao “realized that one of my strengths is being a clinical tutor. Also, I have gained OSCE experience during this mentorship. Learning about the bio-psycho-social assessment will help me to improve as a clinician upon my return to the states. I am proud of myself for giving four lectures, which is out of my comfort zone.”

This clear example of a mutual beneficial partnership is exactly what AIHA looks for when we place our Volunteers! We wish Thao the best of luck in all her future endeavors and look forward to keeping her in AIHA’s Friends, Family, and Alumni Network!