From her experience as an interpreter and cultural tour guide in the mountains of Burma to her work today as a Nurse Practitioner with KYC’s behavioral health programs, Mya’s goals and career have always been about compassionately helping others achieve their goals. As she puts it, she strives to do “ ‘more, better’ for human caring with love, kindness, respect, and dignity”, and this philosophy truly resonates in how she approaches every aspect of her work.
A Career of Caring
As the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) explains, a Nurse Practitioner is an expert health care provider who has completed advanced education and undergoes rigorous national certification beyond their initial training as a Registered Nurse (RN). When asked how she decided to become a Nurse Practitioner, Mya centers her explanation on an experience she had while leading a German tourist group on a 12-day hike to the peak of a mountain in the foothills of the Himalayas in Burma (AKA Myanmar).
She recounts that her group encountered a terrible snowstorm. Responsible for helping the group stay safe she navigated to a local village where she decided to stop at a nearby home to seek shelter. The family living there warmly welcomed them in. “They were so kind. They took us in and even fed us”, she recalls.
During the course of the storm, the grandmother of the family suffered a fatal snake bite, and she tragically passed away at her family home. “As you get closer to the peak, you see more and more health disparities for the impoverished people living on the mountainside”, she notes. “I felt so helpless. At the time, I had no medical training, and the only healthcare supplies we had on hand were bandages. It was a two-and-a-half-day trek to the nearest healthcare facility”, a race against time that the family hadn’t been able to beat.
“It was then that I decided to transform my life to do more human caring”, shares Mya. “I realized that many people had very little education on prevention [of healthcare issues], so I decided to become a registered nurse then Nurse Practitioner, a career that focuses on prevention and creating better outcomes.” Mya’s educational journey eventually took her through BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) and then MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) studies in Thailand, Hawaii, Indiana, and Kentucky.
Mya’s career has included overseeing geriatric psychiatry in more than 20 nursing homes, serving in a COVID-dedicated critical care unit in Chicago, Elkhart General Hospital in Indiana, as well as serving the large Burmese refugee community in Indiana. Each environment has taught her more about how difficult and frustrating it is to navigate healthcare for underserved and undertreated populations. “I have learned so much from my patients throughout my career”, Mya shares. “I’ve worked with patients who have gone through so much: inequality, cultural incongruent cares, racism, sexism, — the storm of ‘-isms’ – and multiple traumas; people who have gone through so much in their life and deserve to be treated better, which has driven me to become more equipped and educated to be able to best serve my patients and their underserved communities.” She continues, “It can be hard for healthcare providers to have the time to truly explain medical issues and medications to people, so I make a point to sit down and talk about these details with my patients always.”
Mya’s Work at KYC
Mya brought her extensive experience, including a Master’s degree in Family Nurse Practitioner, and post-Master’s Psychiatry Mental Health Nurse Practitioner dual board certification, to her role as Nurse Practitioner here at KYC in November of 2023. “The more I learn about KYC’s work, mission, and dedication, it’s really astounding”, shares Mya, on how she chose to continue her career at KYC. “I have a compassionate nursing caring background, so I know that the role of medicine is important, but it is not everything. Here at KYC, the role of medicine is so small, which I love about it. KYC is so much about healing and therapeutic practices that restore and preserve the dignity and respect of the people we serve.”
Mya works with a number of KYC’s behavioral health programs, including our community-based and outpatient programs. “I primarily work with clients who are taking medications and may need to be seen as a first time or for a refill, or they may have a hard time getting to see their primary care provider. I check in with them to see if we need to make any changes to their treatment, to see if they feel it’s effective, culturally congruent care, and what’s going on in their lives”, she explains. “A meeting with me is quite relaxed. I want to get to know clients on a personal level, as there’s a lot more beyond symptoms. I like to ask, ‘how may I assist you today’ and we can work towards the client’s goal together.”
Mya works closely with additional members of clients’ care teams, such as their therapist or counselor, to ensure that all aspects of care a client receives are carefully coordinated and in sync. “I want the people we serve to feel comfortable and feel better. Their goals may feel tough at the time, but we will get there with the team”, a concept Mya names as human caring, ensuring a holistic approach to helping clients thrive as a whole person.
AANP State Award for Excellence
Mya’s passion for providing top care was recently recognized in a truly meaningful way. In January of 2024, Mya was named the 2024 American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) State Award for Excellence recipient for Illinois. This prestigious award is presented annually to only one Nurse Practitioner in each state whose work increases patients’ access to high quality care. To be considered for this award, Mya was nominated by a fellow Nurse Practitioner, and was selected as the best of the best for our state. (Click here to learn more about this award and see the official announcement.)
KYC is incredibly grateful for Mya’s inspiring commitment to her clients and the unwavering level of service she provides to the people and communities we serve together. Congratulations, Mya, on this milestone achievement! Thank you for all you do to bring our vision to life: Together We Thrive.
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