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Nursing career builds confidence for Covington award winner

Posted on Jan. 23, 2020 ( comments)

Thai Ly’s quiet, reserved nature almost kept him out of a nursing career. A teacher told him he might not fit well in a job where open communication is so important.

“Being a nurse gave me confidence and expanded my comfort zone,” Ly says. “Nursing is good for anyone who is shy and introverted. When you care for a patient, you can build on that. You are their advocate.”

Ly is a registered nurse in the progressive care unit at MultiCare Covington Medical Center. Even with his training and experience, he remains somewhat reserved, but has gained the confidence he needs every day to ensure his patients and their loved ones receive the best care possible.

Ly was recognized in November 2019 with the DAISY Award for extraordinary nurses.

The award recognized Ly for his nursing skills, compassionate care, and for going above and beyond what was expected in his work with progressive care unit patients.

“Thank you for your unwavering patience at my endless questions, your gentle way of clarifying concerns, how you treated my son and your quiet sense of humor,” writes the patient who nominated Ly for the award. “The unwavering care, human compassion and respect you provided my son speaks volumes, to not only your nursing skill, but also to your dedication and character. You made it more bearable as we go through this difficult time.”

Lost and found

Ly grew up in Black Diamond, located a few miles from Covington. In high school, Ly wanted to be an architect and did a job shadow. As part of that, he participated in a project bidding process and quickly decided he wasn’t a good fit for the highly competitive nature of that world.

He was lost for a bit. “What do I do now?” he wondered.

A cousin suggested he explore nursing.

“She told me you can work in different specialties and in different places,” he says. “I could take my time to figure out what I wanted to do.”

Ly enrolled in school and enjoyed the classes on biology, anatomy and physiology. After school, he worked in a nursing home in Auburn for a year. At first, he was overwhelmed.

“You have a lot of patients,” he says. “But I talked to them and they enjoyed my company.”

Before long, Ly joined MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital as part of a residency program to train in a specialty area. After two years there, he moved to the newly opened Covington Medical Center, where he now works in the progressive care unit.

“It’s great here,” he says. “The teamwork is excellent. If something happens, you know someone will back you up. We care for patients. We know about them. We advocate for them.”

Speaking up for patients

Ly had a patient recently who was admitted to the hospital with severe diabetes. It was a new and frightening experience for her.

“She was crying, emotional,” he says. “She had been healthy and now just wondered, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ I came in and went over diabetic education with her. I told her about classes she can take. It was not a big deal for me, but for her, it helped that someone explained things to her. It helped her understand.”

A nurse’s job is to care for their patients, no matter what they need. Educating and advocacy are two key roles.

“You do what you can to make them feel comfortable and provide empathy to their family members. You just listen,” Ly says. “If they’re crying, give them a hug. It helps them. Small things add up to make a big difference.”

In the next few years, Ly hopes to have earned a master’s degree in nursing.

“This job can be physically and emotionally draining,” he says. “If you’re not happy at work, your patients will be affected by it. You need to have a passion for it.”

The DAISY Award is presented at MultiCare hospitals in Puget Sound and Inland Northwest regions, and honors licensed nursing professionals in more than 2,000 health care facilities worldwide for outstanding patient care, clinical skills and extraordinary compassion in nursing.

About The Author

Melissa Campbell

Melissa Campbell is the communication specialist for MultiCare Auburn and Covington medical centers. You may reach her at [email protected].

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