Gavin Truong Receives 2019 Dr. Preston A. Jones Memorial Scholarship

May 15, 2019

Gavin Truong receiving the Preston Jones Scholarship at Providence Health

Download the full press release here.

COLUMBIA, SC – Providence Health announced Gavin Truong as its 2019 Dr. Preston A. Jones Memorial Scholarship recipient at a ceremony last evening.

The scholarship presents a $5,000 check to one fourth-year medical student at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine who is member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, which is known for recognizing individuals who excel at providing patient care that is sensitive to the cultural background, values and preferences of all patients. Gavin Truong is a shining example of scholar.

During his personal time at USC, Gavin Truong created the Scholastic Soccer Program, which provides afterschool tutoring and mentorship. This program aims to decrease high school dropout rates and improve college acceptance rates for refugee youth. Since its inception, three students have received college soccer scholarships, and the program won the 2017 literacy Leaders Award from the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science. Gavin also received the 2018 University of South Carolina School of Medicine Dean's Community Service. Gavin also served as the President of the Medical Student Association (MSA) during his second year, where he focused on creating an environment for students to build community and comradery outside of the classroom.

Gavin has shown compassion and leadership in all his endeavors during medical school, and of course this compassion extends deep into his patient care. Following is a patient story Gavin shared in his letter to the scholarship committee explaining a source of this continued compassion.

“I experienced firsthand the significance of trust between patients and health providers through my interactions with Soe,” he writes changing the patient’s name.  In the hospital with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) Soe had a history of uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension, and depression. She was timid and reluctant to answer many of the medical team's questions. “I could sense how uncomfortable she was with the constant traffic of new faces either talking to her or drawing blood from her.” He sought to make her comfortable by becoming a familiar face and engaging in conversations about her family, culture, hobbies, and life as a refugee in the United States.

When he saw her for a follow-up at the Carolina Survivor Clinic, he could tell she was relieved to see him and began updating Gavin on her life since being discharged. She explained how difficult it was to make it to doctor appointments due to a lack of transportation, fear of missing a work shift, and lack of childcare for her four children. To lessen these burdens, he offered to continue her follow-ups at her home, and there, they built a trusting relationship that allowed Gavin to understand the factors that limited her ability to comply and care for herself. “She opened up to me about multiple issues: her food insecurities, the strains of being a factory worker, and her history of traumatic relationships back in Myanmar. She explained that she knew her hospitalizations came from her diabetes, but she stuck to a diet high in rice because it was all she could afford to eat to keep her satiated. She did not check her sugars or administer her insulin often because each needle stick reminded her of the torture her family endured in the wake of the civil war in Myanmar. She split her diabetic pills because she wanted them to last two months instead of one and that was all she could afford.” Soe had hesitated in telling her previous providers because she has had difficulty expressing her hardships to strangers.

“Although my relationship with Soe took many months to forge, it really opened my eyes to how something as simple as sitting and listening can reveal the underlying reasons of one's health,” said Gavin, who says he found that helping improve someone's health can be difficult if you don't take the time to truly get to know them. “Soe has inspired me to continue building strong relationships with my patients in order to provide a trusting and nurturing environment to heal."

The Preston Jones Scholarship was created in memory of the well-loved “Physician’s physician” Dr. Preston Jones. After losing his battle to cancer, members of the community donated funds in his memory. From these funds, a scholarship was established, managed by Providence Health and continued today under LifePoint Health.

Gavin Truong received the scholarship in a ceremony last night held in Providence Health’s downtown lobby.