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Voices of Japan Heart Vol.4 Mr. Sun Mey (Nurse)

Mr. Sun Mey is a nurse at Japan Heart Children’s Medical Center. He became a nurse using the scholarship program of Japan Heart. “I want to deliver medical care to those from poor background”. He holds a strong passion and professionalism which made him a leading figure among Cambodian nurses in the hospital. Here’s his interview.


Q. Please tell me why you decided to become a nurse.


I grew up in a small village in Prey Veng Province near the border with Vietnam. I was born as the 5th son of 9 all-male siblings. The village was inconvenient that the nearest hospital was more than 1 hour away by motorbike.


Having grown up in an environment like that, I understand how difficult it is to receive medical care in rural areas. The distance was a big problem, and also the cost was also a burden. So, I grew up thinking, “What are the people like me who are poor and live in rural areas supposed to do when they are sick?”.


At first, I wanted to become a doctor because I wanted to provide medical care to people in the same situation as myself, but I had to support my younger brothers, so I decided to become a nurse instead because nursing course finishes earlier than medical course at university.


Q. How did you find out about Japan Heart?


Even though I decided to become a nurse, I didn't have the financial means to go to university. That's when I learned about the Japan Heart scholarship program. Fortunately, the high school I attended in Prey Veng Province, the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Middle and High School, was eligible for this scholarship program, so I learned about Japan Heart through high school. I appreciate Japan Heart because if I didn’t know about the scholarship program, I had no chance to make my dream come true.


(Japan Heart runs a scholarship program in Cambodia called the “Dream Bridge Project,” providing financial support to high school students who aim to become doctors or nurses until graduation from university.)


(With other scholarship students. Second from the right in the front row)


Using this scholarship program, I entered University of Health Sciences in Phnom Penh. It has been about 4 years since I started working at Japan Heart Children's Medical Center.


Q. What is it like working at Japan Heart Hospital?


It's very rewarding, and my family is proud of me working for Japan Heart.


All of former Japan Heart scholarship students are supposed to work at Japan Heart Children's Medical Center for half of their academic years, but I stayed at the hospital even after that period ended.


Obviously, I have the option of moving to another hospital for better salary etc. However, would that hospital provide medical care to patients in rural areas or patients without money?


I became a nurse because I wanted to provide medical care to the poor people like I was in rural areas. Japan Heart provides free medical care to all patients, from babies to the elderly, and also run a “mobile medical clinic” where we pack medical supplies into a car and deliver medical care to various locations. I feel that this is where I belong.


I don't know what the future holds, but right now I want to work for more patients at this hospital and pass on my knowledge to other staff members.


Q. You are also involved in the treatment for pediatric cancer patients. What do you value most?


When working in the pediatric ward, I keep three things in mind.


Our first priority is to provide the best possible treatment to our patients. I value close communication withing the team. At this hospital, Japanese and Cambodian staff work together, so it is very important to communicate clearly so that all staff members can have the same understanding. Every day, we face various problems but we work and grow together as a team.


It is also important to have a thorough understanding of the patient's financial situation. Although medical treatment and 3 meals a day are provided for free at this hospital, the financial burden for patient’s family is still heavy as treatment for childhood cancer can last for years. For example, if there are other small children in a single-parent household, who will accompany the patient through hospitalization? During hospitalization, patients also to purchase water and other consumables. In order to make an environment where patients can receive medical treatment without worries, we need to fully understand their situation and provide the support they need. 


Finally, mental care for patient's family is also extremely important. Who can imagine the stress of having to see your child suffer from so much pain and the side effects of chemotherapy. And also having to constantly face the fear of losing them? The stress and emotional burden on families of pediatric cancer patients cannot be described in words.


As a nurse at this hospital, I am always thinking about what I can do. First and foremost, I believe it is important for patients to understand the disease, treatment, and future outlook, and to gain trust in medical professionals, so I am conscious of communicating carefully. Many Cambodians, including myself, are Buddhists, so when we are worried or in pain, we sometimes receive hints from the Buddha's teachings. I am also studying day by day to be able to convey these Buddhist teachings in my own words to patients’ families.



Q6. What’s your career aspiration?


As a nurse, I would like to deepen my knowledge and spread it to the staff around me so that I can provide better treatment and psychological care to patients.


Also, I would like to deepen cooperation with other medical institutions in Cambodia. I became a nurse because I wanted to provide medical care to people in rural areas, and we need to work together with other medical institutions to achieve this goal. We need to deepen our cooperative relationships with local clinics and other medical institutions, and share know-hows and techniques with many. I hope to deliver medical care to many more people.


Mr. Mey Sun (Nurse)

From Prey Veng Province. He is a former scholarship student of Japan Heart’s scholarship program. He has been working at Japan Heart Children's Medical Center since 2019.


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