Inspiration for a Future Doctor

Mai, Melissa, and Madison outside the operating room in Can Tho.
Melissa Lipari, who is preparing to attend medical school, joined the IEP team to learn more about a career in medicine. It turns out she's very comfortable in surgical scrubs.

This was my first trip with IEP on their mission to Vietnam. It was also my first excursion to a developing nation. The experience has changed my perspective on life in so many ways.

As an aspiring Orthopedist, I went on this medical mission to confirm my fascination with medicine and my devotion to becoming a doctor. I also wanted to help this amazing organization by raising money for a good cause and contributing a helping hand in the hospital.

The trip was an emotional roller-coaster. The first two days of patient screening were the most emotionally taxing. Tears were shed by both the IEP team and the patients. It was disheartening to look at a full line of people desperately hoping to qualify for surgery and know that we wouldn’t be able to help them all.

But beyond the sadness, I felt really inspired. Getting to watch these doctors dedicate their vacation time in order to travel to a country with fewer opportunities and drastically alter an individual’s quality of life absolutely flooded me with inspiration.

One of the children we evaluated, but could not help.
It was so eye-opening how even a 30-minute surgery can completely alter the course of someone’s life. With this came the recognition that I will one day become a person capable of improving others’ quality of life in such a drastic way. And that makes me look forward to my future as a physician.

Going on this journey with such an amazing team of individuals has fueled my passion for medicine and giving back to the greater global community. One of the most important things I learned from my trip to Vietnam is how I can make a real difference in the lives of so many less fortunate than myself. I realized how much my training and education can become a vehicle for good.

Moreover, a new door was opened for me when I realized how rewarding a career in podiatry can be. Since my trip to Vietnam with IEP, I have made the decision to become a podiatrist. I want to use my knowledge and skills to help people get back on their feet (literally) so they can stay active and healthy.

I have to thank everyone who works hard year after year to make this mission possible. I’m so appreciative to have been a part of this amazing team. You have all played a part in changing not only the lives of many Vietnamese, but you’ve changed my life too, so thank you!


  1. I'm in tears. Thanks to the IEP Team who not only made a difference to so many children in Vietnam, but who also helped my daughter focus in on her own path in medicine. I hope that she is able to work with the IEP team for many years and give back a small fraction of what she has received on this past trip. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  2. So proud of this young lady. I'm choking up a bit... One of my favorite people, ever!

  3. So proud of this young lady. I'm choking up a bit... One of my favorite people, ever!

  4. So proud of this young lady. I'm choking up a bit... One of my favorite people, ever!


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