AANHPI Heritage Month 2024: Meet Asian American CRNA and TANA Member Malasy Vichathep

Malasy Vichathep, DNP, CRNA, works at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, a long way from her parents’ homeland of Laos, a landlocked country in Southwest Asia bordered by China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Burma. “My parents immigrated from Laos and stayed in refugee camps on their way to America,” Malasy explains. “Their journey to this country gave me the motivation I needed to achieve my educational goals and be a testament to their sacrifices that brought us here to America.”

While completing her bachelor’s degree in nursing, Malasy already had her ultimate goal in mind—to advance her education in pursuit of a career that would allow her to focus on one patient at a time. Nurse anesthesiology proved to be the perfect fit. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice in Nurse Anesthesiology in 2020 and this August will celebrate four years as a CRNA. At Baptist Memorial, Malasy specializes in anesthesia care for general, ortho/neuro, vascular, and obstetrical cases.

“The most rewarding aspect of being a CRNA is knowing my patients trust me to provide care to them during their most vulnerable times,” she says. “It is also gratifying and humbling being able to educate the Asian American community about my profession and healthcare in general.” Given her parents’ background, Malasy is acutely aware that in countries such as Laos, remote areas lack essential healthcare services and education that small communities need to prosper.

“As a female CRNA, I believe I have given the Asian American community something to be proud of,” she says. “Most importantly, I embrace being a role model for young Laotian women and showing them that anything is possible.”

For Malasy, the most challenging part of being a CRNA is “caring for patients facing unfortunate circumstances,” such as a mother in need of a c-section for a 32-week fetal demise or a cancer patient undergoing surgical treatment for palliative care. “Cases such as these are never easy,” she says, “but ensuring the safety of the patient during and after their procedure is truly gratifying,” she says.

Malasy’s advice to anyone who is pursuing a career as a CRNA is inspired: “Never give up on your dreams or goals. The challenges and obstacles you will face will make you stronger and mold you into better healthcare professionals.”

As Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2024 comes to a close on May 31, TANA thanks all AANHPI CRNAs and SRNAs across Tennessee and United States for the extraordinary patient care they provide throughout the year.

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