Profiles in Telehealth: Third-Generation NP Uses Flexible Hours to Support Refugees

Nurse practitioner, Monica L., comes from a long line of compassionate nurses. Monica shares how much she loves supporting Ukrainian refugees, traveling the world, and volunteering as a Bible educator in her community, which is all thanks to her flexible schedule as a Wheel clinician. Check out the story of this quad-lingual explorer.

What's your professional story?

I have been working in family health as a nurse practitioner for 10 years now. I come from three generations of nurses. My maternal grandmother and mother, as well as my two sisters. My Korean grandmother assisted my grandfather who was a general surgeon during the Japanese occupation of South Korea. Many of their patients paid with chicken or rice or whatever they could muster in wartime. I am now entering 2.5 years of telemedicine and I cannot love it more.

What's your life like outside of work?

I live with my husband and two Frenchies, Blueberry and Pancake, exploring the world. We love snowboarding, paddle boarding, and trying new foods. We volunteer full-time as Bible educators in the Mandarin-speaking community, and I speak 4 languages: English, Korean, Spanish, and Mandarin. We live in Maryland where I was born and raised. We are currently enjoying hosting Ukrainian refugees who are looking to resettle in the US.

An interesting fact about me is that I’m allergic to vibration and alliums. I can’t jog, ride a bike over cobblestones or jump in a hot tub with jets but I can do stationary bikes and snowboard because it's a smooth surface. I can’t eat any garlic or onions because of WWIII in my gut. Being Korean, this is a major issue. Imagine how much of your food has garlic! If you go to your kitchen and check your labels, I guarantee it’s in 95% of your sauces and prepared foods like ketchup, chicken broke, curry, and pasta sauce.

What brought you to virtual care?

I’ve always admired my colleagues who worked remotely for the flexibility of their job. I started working remotely when the pandemic started and we were living in Austin. My primary care office started instituting telemedicine and I wondered why we didn’t incorporate it sooner. It was convenient for me and my patients. Depending on the software, there was a learning curve but I love technology so it wasn’t hard to adjust. It was simply trial and error. Practice and motivation helped me get through the learning curve. The best part of telemedicine is being able to work from home and being present for my family. The hardest part is missing out on work luncheons 😆.

What's it like to work with Wheel?

Wheel has allowed me to discover different platforms and diversify my patient experiences. I love that I can work in multiple areas of medicine. I was recently asked to host a Ukrainian couple who fled from Kharkiv due to war. Thanks to Wheel’s reasonable scheduling policies, I was able to host them more fully because I was physically present and flexible. Because I have the ability to work per diem I can also welcome new refugees from our local airport and be supportive of our newcomers.

Being a medical provider is more than just seeing patients online. It’s being a healing, positive, comforting person in my community. It’s truly impacted my life perspective. Wheel allows me to help others in my community because it supports my busy lifestyle.

My advice to someone interested in working with Wheel is to be available for as many opportunities as you can but be clear with expectations of what you can do (in terms of schedule and modalities). Wheel is highly supportive of your preferences so don’t be afraid to communicate and touch base. We can only be heard if we communicate!

What do you think the future of healthcare holds?

I am so excited to see how telemedicine evolves regarding testing for patients and support. I don't want patients to feel they're lacking anything from their telehealth experience. Whether that incorporates a degree of in-person exams or easily accessible point-of-care testing, or more technology at the patient’s fingertips, we will have to see as the future comes. I’d like to see more cultural considerations like foreign language support.

The most impactful part of patient care is true empathy. We need our clients to know we see them as a person and not just a patient. We are seeing them at their worst but we aren’t judging them or freezing them in time. Providers are real humans who have families. We need to be treated with love and care also. Reflecting this towards our patients will hopefully engender an atmosphere of true respect and dignity.

Thank you, Monica, for sharing your personal and family stories! Compassionate clinicians give hope to the future of healthcare.

For more check out our previous care team spotlights with an NP's journey from candy striper to virtual care, an NP who decided to travel the world for a year, and a psychology nerd and mental health champion finding purpose.

Interested in joining a team of virtual care clinicians? Learn about working in telehealth with Wheel.