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Cel­e­brat­ing Mya: 2024 AANP State Award for Excel­lence Recip­i­ent for Illinois

Meet Mya

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

Mya Photo

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 Blog Quotes

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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