Julie Ing Stern has been doing medical outreach work for more than ten years – in Indonesia, Nepal and now Guatemala. She is a Super-Star and one the most dependable practitioners on our GHF team! A combination of humor and professionalism characterize Julie’s contact with patients. Read all about Julie's story with Global Healthworks Foundation below.
Soccer Mom Julie Ing Stern’s Mix of Humor and Professionalism
Julie Ing Stern looks up from her clipboard in shock as she hears a little girl say “No tomo agua pura. (I don’t drink pure water.)” “¿No agua pura? (No pure water?)” she shouts. “Drink water or you’ll get a lot of wrinkles like me!” she says, pointing to the smile lines across her face. Her interpreter translates the words into Spanish as the triage room erupts in laughter. “¡Más agua pura, más agua pura! (More pure water, more pure water!)” she tells the group, smiling.
The exchange is typical of Julie’s interactions with patients—smiles, giggles, and an unwavering commitment to speak and learn Spanish accompany the acupuncturist’s quality treatments and superb attention to detail. “She takes her time with each patient,” says Sofía Wer, Julie’s interpreter during the October 2014 jornada (medical mission). “She’s very patient, gentle, and friendly.”
Described as “the most awesome soccer mom” by several trip volunteers, Julie has been practicing acupuncture for ten years and traveled internationally to provide medical outreach to underserved communities eight times. Despite being an “active mom” with her own practice back home, fellow acupuncturist Peter Panken says, Julie leaves her three kids, husband, and “one ancient little dog”—as she puts it—to journey to Guatemala each year. “She plays an incredibly important role, particularly in her ability to triage patients,” Peter says. “She rises to each challenge. And in a completely modest way.”
In addition to ensuring her patients remain healthy, Julie also takes care of the team. Shouts of “Thanks, Mom!” echo throughout the dining room at breakfast as volunteers thank her for their daily dose of probiotic and grapefruit seed pills. “Gotta stay healthy!” she calls back. Her attention to all those around her, volunteer Kelly Call says, “epitomizes what it means to be a team player. There’s no job that’s ‘beneath her.’ She brings the best she has, always.” And “she brings an abundance of great energy,” says Dan Wunderlich, Global Healthworks Foundation’s Founder and Executive Director. “Julie’s the first one at the treatment space in the morning and the last to leave – and always with a smile on her face!”
A combination of humor and professionalism characterize Julie’s contact with patients.
While fellow volunteers and health practitioners certainly look up to and respect her, Julie feels as though she’s barely begun her tenure as an acupuncturist. “I’m Chinese,” she says. “Chinese people don’t have any ‘street cred’ until at least twenty years [of practicing]. And I’m only at year ten.” She returns to Guatemala each year to continue to grow as a practitioner and work with Dan. “I love working with Dan. He is a really strong leader and I learn a lot from him. I’ve learned to better diagnose since I started these trips. That’s really key in Chinese medicine.” And, she adds, “It’s nice to give back. I have a skill that’s useful. So I tell my family, ‘I’m going at least once a year. You’re on your own. You will survive!’”
Though obviously humble, Julie is tremendously skilled at triaging and treating patients. “She treats with exceptional depth,” Dan says. “And,” Peter adds, “She does it in an understated way. What she does is a pretty big deal.” And how she does it is also impressive. A combination of humor and professionalism characterize Julie’s contact with patients. “Look at your lengua (tongue)!” she says to an older woman after her initial diagnosis. Julie holds up her phone with a photo of the woman sticking out her tongue. Laughter ensues. “She likes to joke around,” Sofía says. She has this soothing presence with the patients because she’s so funny and approachable.”
Despite her lack of ancient Chinese “street cred,” team members agree, Julie’s open and welcoming demeanor puts patients—no matter what their background—at ease. “Just be friendly,” Julie advises new volunteers. “Treat your patients like you’d treat anyone.” Undoubtedly, the manner in which Julie treats people helps to create a more relaxed and embracing environment in which patients—and volunteers—can heal, thrive, and continue their journey to better health.