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Helen Teng

Assistant Clinical Professor

Undergraduate Nursing

Helen L. Teng, PhD, RN

Using Experience to Make Change

Helen L. Teng, PhD, assistant clinical professor in the Undergraduate Nursing Department, leads by example. A teacher, mentor, volunteer and friend, Teng began her career in health education as a smoking cessation coordinator and as a medical assistant at Planned Parenthood. In this role, she observed nurses who were able to practice in care and promote health education and decided that she wanted to become a nurse practitioner. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s family nurse practitioner program, Teng entered a PhD program and found that she really enjoyed teaching. “What inspires me is when students see the connection between what they learn in the classroom out in a practice setting,” says Teng, “to really see social determinants of health.” She encourages students to never be afraid to ask questions. “It’s important for us to be critical of situations we are in, not to criticize, but to evaluate what we are doing. If we sense that something isn’t okay, be an advocate – for yourself and for your patients.”

As a volunteer leader in Philadelphia, Teng was awarded the 2021 Philly Hero Award by the city of Philadelphia for her work with the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition (SEAMAAC). “Giving back to the people of Philadelphia in my community, who are immigrants, and who have been disproportionately impacted by social determinants of health. …it feels like I’m doing my part,” says Teng. In addition to volunteering with SEAMAAC, Teng also volunteers with Philadelphia’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), a group of volunteers who serve the city during public health emergencies and large-scale events. In this role, Teng provided health screenings for the refugees from Afghanistan, who arrived at the Philadelphia International Airport in August and September 2021. She continues to be inspired by “people who are working toward the betterment of humanity.”