Calvin Xu: ‘Healthcare is a human right’

Home>Posts>Calvin Xu: ‘Healthcare is a human right’

uc irvine school of nursing alum calvin xu class of 2021Even as he was enrolling in nursing school, Calvin Xu (‘21) thought he’d eventually become a doctor. 

Some of his plans were linked to assumptions about healthcare roles and who is “in charge.”

Then he became a volunteer in the Patient Experience Program at UCI Medical Center, worked in the Emergency Medicine Research Associates Program and started his clinicals at the UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing. The collaboration across teams was evident.

“The more time I spent around nurses and patients, I can tell you with certainty: It’s an interdisciplinary experience when you’re in a hospital.”

Providing holistic care

The time nurses spend interacting with their patients struck him; in a hospital setting, a physician may spend 5-10 minutes a day with each patient. 

“Nurses, on the other hand, are there taking care of these patients, giving medication, making sure they’re comfortable, their family is comfortable,” he says. “It’s such a holistic way of providing healthcare.”

The combination of patient interaction and meeting their various needs was a perfect fit for Xu. His plans for medical school fell by the wayside.

“If you really want to take care of people, the best thing to do is be a nurse,” he says. 

“For someone who’s very social and very much enjoys caring for other people, it’s perfect.”

An urgency and drive to effect change

Xu does want an advanced degree, though: He plans to pursue a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree and become a nurse practitioner.

He has two reasons. One is urgency, he says, as the population ages, gets sicker and healthcare provider shortages worsen. The other is to continue to build on the political might nurses have established to drive policy changes forward.

“There aren’t enough healthcare providers. I want to fill that gap in our flawed healthcare system and I want to serve in a role where we can build up enough political power.” 

A vision for better healthcare

Xu’s vision is a healthcare system that is free and subsidized for the majority of its people, citing other countries that have accomplished this, such as France. The net result is better healthcare at a fraction of the cost.

He wants to fight for a similar system here. “Some 60% of Americans all want some sort of universal healthcare system. This is not a controversial topic.”

Socioeconomic and political systems keep it from becoming a reality, he says. In the meantime, though, millions of Americans are burdened by chronic illnesses that are expensive to treat, large hospital bills and mounting healthcare debt. 

“A core value of mine is the idea that healthcare is a human right and it should be guaranteed to everyone.”

For more information, to support a future nurse or nurse-led research, please connect to Juliana Goswick, Director of Development at or visit Giving.

2021-09-16T11:35:33-07:00September 16th, 2021|Featured Alumni|

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