Savin Sun: A Caregiver’s Path from Cambodia to Beaver County

 

Savin Sun’s career path as an attentive, compassionate licensed practical nurse in Beaver County has been extraordinary, unlike any that most Americans would ever experience.

 

Her story of holding four different positions of increasing responsibility within just six years is downright inspiring, as is her pursuit of continuing medical education, motherhood and U.S. citizenship.

 

“I like to take a little extra time to make people feel that I really care,” she says. “As Maya Angelou has said, said we can heal the heart, mind and soul, and even if people forget our names, they will remember how we made them feel.”

 

As the daughter of Cambodians who escaped the killing fields of genocide, Savin was born in a refugee camp in Thailand. With the sponsorship of missionaries, she migrated with her family to the United States, grew to adulthood in Philadelphia speaking three languages and began her nursing education. She also met someone special and started a family of her own.

 

Savin’s decision to go into the nursing field was a result of the caregiving role she had played with her parents, as their English translator, driver to medical appointments and having overall concern for their well-being. Then in high school, working as a receptionist for a long-term care facility, she was awed when listening to residents’ stories about their lives and hardships.

 

“My parents had to give up everything in an instant,” she says. “I realized I could make a difference in a person’s life in an instant by listening. No one can ever take that away.”

 

She received her LPN designation in 2008 at the Center for Arts and Technology in Brandywine near Philadelphia. When her significant other needed to relocate to Beaver County, she readily agreed to the move.

 

In 2014, Savin interviewed with RM+V and was offered employment as a charge nurse. In this role, she coordinated and assessed residents to determine appropriate plans of care.

 

“The charge nurse position helped me to learn the RM+V way and create a foundation for everything else,” she says.

 

In less than 18 months, Savin seized an opportunity to advance her RM+V role and responsibilities when she was promoted to LPN concierge. Not only did she schedule post-hospital and ancillary appointments for residents but also was the liaison with outside medical care providers, family, team members and physicians.

 

“That helped me build a customer-service mindset,” she says. “Serving customers is at the hub of everything we do.”

 

As Savin’s management duties expanded, so did her desire to continue to keep growing. Within another 11 months, she was named RM+V’s LPN certified Resident Assessment Coordinator (or “RAC-CT” for short). This entailed developing and completing assessments in accordance with federal and state requirements as well as managing assessment data to ensure correct Medicare and Medicaid payment levels.

 

“The RAC-CT work really propelled my experience on the business side,” she recalls. “It took me out of direct patient care but gave me insights into bookkeeping and billing.”

 

Then in 2018, Savin was advanced yet again to the position of LPN unit manager, which she continues today. This role ranges from overseeing comprehensive care, implementing and evaluating care plans and managing regulatory compliance to supervising all registered nurses, LPNs, nursing aides and support staff.

 

“The unit manager role helps me balance the beneficial care and financial management side of our caregiving,” she says. “It’s pushed my expectations and goals a little higher.”

 

As a manager, Savin says that she treats everyone the same, and communication is the key. “We’re all here to work together. I will never ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself.”

 

Kristin Goldstrom Oeder, RM+V’s executive director, says that “I have had the pleasure of working with Savin since 2013 when we both came on board at RM+V. Savin is an excellent nurse who is always willing to go the extra mile for her residents, families and team. She is also very ambitious, and tackles any project, training or position with enthusiasm. She is not just an asset to RM+V, she’s like family.”

 

Even while working full-time, Savin has continued her nursing studies at Community College of Beaver County and LaRoche University as well as helping to raise their daughter. The key, she says, is to set priorities and boundaries.

 

“When I’m at work, my brain goes into the caretaker mode,” she says. “When I’m at home, I am Mom, take off the nurse’s hat and set the boundary of focusing on my child.”

 

Last year, Savin was sworn in as an American citizen. Her path here has been filled with twists and turns, but RM+V is honored to have her on the team.