VINH, Vietnam (July 16, 2012) Dermatologist Lt. Cmdr. Josephine Nguyen checks a Vietnamese patient's throat at a medical civic action project (MEDCAP) on 16 July as part of Pacific Partnership. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Feddersen)

VINH, Vietnam (NNS) - The Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12) medical civic assistance project (MEDCAP) at Hung Lam Primary School received a helping hand from a Vietnamese-American dermatologist, July 16.

Lt. Cmdr. Josephine Nguyen is combining her medical training with her ability to speak the native language to serve as a force multiplier in helping teach, treat and communicate with Vietnamese patients.

"I volunteered for this mission," said Nguyen. "I wanted to serve and thought I could help the medical team. I also wanted to help those who come from the same heritage as me and bring together the Vietnamese and Americans during this humanitarian and civic assistance mission."

While at the Hung Lam MEDCAP, a patient was referred to Nguyen for a diffuse rash on his abdomen.

"It's exciting to be able to come to a new place and practice skills that were learned in the U.S," Nguyen said. "As a doctor, educating a patient about behavioral modifications can have an impact on the quality of life, considering the skin is the largest organ in the body."

Nguyen served a number of patients at Hung LAM, both young and old.

"I have much respect for the elders and hope that one day the children live a life of service," she said. "There is something to be said about a changed attitude when you're a part of a humanitarian and civic assistance mission and the fact that there are others that may be suffering more than you. It truly is a life experience."

Nguyen said participating in PP12 is a humbling experience.

"It's a big responsibility and an honor," said Nguyen. "I wanted to be a part of the process of bringing people together and bridging cultural gaps, whether it is something that's lost in translation or being able to represent the United States when providing care for others. If I can even make a small improvement, I will feel I served the PP12 mission well."

PP12 personnel are in Vietnam until July 24 to provide no-cost medical, dental, optometry, and veterinary care, as well as civil engineering projects throughout the Hung Nguyen district.

Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual humanitarian and civic assistance mission in the Asia-Pacific region that brings together U.S. military, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and international agencies, and is designed to build stronger relationships and disaster response capabilities.

For more information about the PP12 mission, please visit the Pacific Partnership Blog or engage with Pacific Partnership on Facebook and Twitter.