Dr. SreyRam Kuy is a Cambodian refugee who escaped the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime and went on to become a trailblazing surgeon, healthcare executive, and health policy leader. Her journey from a refugee camp in Thailand to the highest levels of the US healthcare system is a testament to her resilience, perseverance, and dedication to improving the lives of others.
Early Life and Escape from Cambodia
Dr. SreyRam Kuy was born in Cambodia in the midst of the Khmer Rouge regime, which lasted from 1975 to 1979 and resulted in the deaths of nearly two million people through executions, starvation, and disease. Her family was among the many Cambodians who were forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in neighboring countries.
When Dr. SreyRam Kuy was two years old, her family was living in a refugee camp in Thailand when a bombing occurred that severely injured her, her mother, and her sister. They were treated for their wounds by a volunteer surgeon from the Red Cross, an experience that inspired Dr. Kuy to pursue a career in medicine.
Journey to the United States and Medical Education
In 1981, Dr. SreyRam Kuy and her family were resettled in the United States, where they faced many challenges in adapting to a new culture and language. Despite these difficulties, Dr. SreyRam Kuy excelled in her studies and eventually pursued her dream of becoming a surgeon.
She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and her medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco. She went on to complete her surgical residency at the University of Chicago, where she became the first Cambodian refugee to train as a surgeon in the United States.
Healthcare Leadership and Advocacy
After completing her medical training, Dr. SreyRam Kuy became a healthcare executive and policy leader, working to improve healthcare access, quality, and equity for underserved populations. She served as the Chief Medical Officer for Louisiana Medicaid, where she led initiatives to address the opioid crisis and expand access to breast cancer reconstructive surgery for low-income women.
Dr. SreyRam Kuy also served as the Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Community Care in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, overseeing a $14.5 billion budget and ensuring access to care for millions of veterans nationwide. In this role, she was a strong advocate for improving mental health services for veterans and addressing disparities in healthcare outcomes.
Throughout her career, Dr. SreyRam Kuy has been a passionate advocate for patient safety, quality improvement, and health equity. She has published extensively on these topics and has been recognized with numerous awards and honors for her contributions to healthcare.
Inspiring Future Generations of Cambodians
Dr. SreyRam Kuy’s story is a powerful example of the resilience and strength of the Cambodian people, and her achievements serve as an inspiration to future generations of Cambodians. Her journey from a refugee camp to the top echelons of the US healthcare system demonstrates that with hard work, dedication, and a commitment to improving the lives of others, anything is possible.
For Cambodian youth who may be facing similar challenges, Dr. SreyRam Kuy’s message is clear: “Don’t give up on your dreams, no matter how big or small they may seem. Work hard, stay focused, and never forget where you come from. And always remember that you are capable of achieving greatness, no matter what obstacles you may face.”
As Cambodia continues to rebuild and develop, leaders like Dr. SreyRam Kuy who will inspire and guide the next generation of Cambodians to reach their full potential and make a positive impact on their communities and the world.
LinkedIn Profile of SreyRam Kuy, MD, MHS: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sreyramkuy