REI-Vietnam News

Nurses Bring Heart, Skill, and Vision to Vietnam

by REI-Vietnam |

Image: Nurses Bring Heart, Skill, and Vision to Vietnam
Kathie Cowie and Dr. Elaine Goehner present materials to faculty

A recent Gallop Poll showed that nursing is the most trusted profession in the US. Perhaps one reason is that nurses are not only well trained but that those drawn to the profession are compassionate people who have a heart to help others. REI is privileged to have two women with large hearts of compassion who are helping to advance nursing education and nursing practice in Vietnam.

Kathie Cowie, RN

Kathie with twinkle in her eye

Kathie Cowie, an RN with 25 years of nursing experience, has demonstrated such a heart for Vietnam. Kathie lived in Vietnam from 1997 to 1999. During those years she worked at Viet Duc Hospital in Hanoi and was a member of the REI Resident Professional Team. She returned to Vietnam in 2000 and 2001 as a member of a short-term Visiting Professional Team, and since 2009 has returned yearly as a visiting professional . Kathie sees that one of the biggest changes over the years since she has been involved in Vietnam is the level of access to the world through the internet and travel. “Nurses have a greater understanding of their profession and what they need in order to improve.” Kathie has been quite encouraged to see growth in the areas of infection control, accountability and a patient centered focus.

For the past 12 ½ years Kathie has worked as a staff nurse in a Medical/Surgical and Cardiac ICU with a sub specialty in wound care. While in Vietnam this spring she did rounds and taught Prioritizing Patient Care and Nursing Assessment, but the focus of this trip was to work with Vietnamese nurses to design a fall training course for Critical Care, Neurosurgery,Cardiology, Emergency and Orthopedics. Her desire and heart is to train a few experienced nurses in best practices in critical care who will then be able to train their peers.

Kathie at ComputerCAthie at

Ron Randle who accompanied the nurses this spring said of her, “Kathie has a real passion for best practices in healthcare and for the people of Vietnam. That she has lived there and knows the language gives her credibility. She is extremely believable and has a relaxed style in the way she teaches.”

Adding Fun to Work

Beside serious work, Kathie will create fun wherever she goes. (See pictures below.) Looks like Kathie was not quite as interested in having as much fun with the snake as the other ladies were. A boat trip on the Mekong Delta with friends provided a welcome break between working in two cities.

Kathie with snake

CAthie in boat

Dr. Elaine Goehner, PhD, RN

Ealine Goehner

Dr. Elaine Goehner PhD., RN and Professor and the Chair of the Entry Level Masters program for the School of Nursing at Azusa Pacific University, made her 5th trip to Vietnam this Spring. While Kathie's focus is training in the clinical side of nursing, Elaine’s focus is in the academic side. Her passion is to identify ways to further the education of nursing faculty.

Elaine at table

Elaine and Ron Randle

Elaine receives an appreciation gift from Bach Mai Hospital staff in Hanoi. Ron Randle is on the right.

When asked what encouraged her this year, Elaine said, “Six hospitals sent administrative representatives as well as doctors to discuss the fall program when Dr. Daniel Moromisato, Patient Safety Officer for Children Hospital, LA, will be addressing patient safety. This will be an inter-professional discussion with doctors and nurses together. Because changes cannot be made in a vacuum, there will also be an organizational psychologist who will discuss assessing organizational culture and creating change that has staying power."

Elaine’s contribution this spring also included making patient rounds and lecturing on several topics: Nurse Assessment of the Patient; Medication Safety, Skin Care and Ulcer Prevention, Pain Management, and Nursing Competencies.

Elaine with mask

Vision for Potential MA Program in Nursing

The trip was also an exploratory trip for Elaine to assess the possibilities of developing a Master’s Program for nursing at the Faculty of Nursing and Medical Technology in the University of Medicine in HCMC. Ron Randle said of Elaine, “Elaine is an academician. Her ability to communicate clearly and simply is an advantage she brings. She has a passion for education. She is confident and well suited for that role. Her coming back year after year and her academic standing give her credibility."

Students listening

Elaine and Kathie, two women with great heart and skill, are making a difference in nursing in Vietnam. Their optimism connects to the vision of training a few who will also train others. Kathie recalls a touching incident after a lecture this year. With tears in her eyes a nurse with some years of experience came to her and said, “Thank you. For the first time I learned that nursing comes from the heart"… a paradigm shift from a single lecture. There is a saying, “Cast your bread on the waters for after many days you will find it again.” REI short-term visiting professionals as well as long-term professionals give gifts that are passed on to others but also come back to them in many ways.

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