Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) senior Nam Nguyen immigrated with his family from Vietnam to Glendale, California when he was just nine years old. His father, a captain in the Vietnam War, always wanted him to go to medical school but Nguyen wasn’t as self-assured. After earning his undergraduate degree at University of California, Riverside, he opted instead for a career in Respiratory Therapy, and worked alongside physicians at Riverside Community Hospital.
After 12 years building skills and expertise caring for patients, Nguyen gained the confidence to finally consider medical school. Encouraged by multiple mentors and two residents who were RUSM graduates, he applied.
“They told me great things about Ross Med and that I should pursue my dreams. ‘Do it. You’ll love it!’ they said and to this day, I still keep in contact with them. They supported me through my basic science and clinical years as well as through the Match process. The Ross Med community truly is like a family.”
Now, with graduation on the horizon, Nguyen is celebrating another milestone: an Emergency Medicine residency at Eisenhower Health back in his home state of California.
Emergency Medicine has been the goal from the beginning. While some shy away from the fast pace and intensity, Nguyen thrived—likely the result of over a decade’s experience in emergency department and intensive care units. “I enjoy the rush of adrenaline caring for critical patients and I like to make those quick decisions. Working alongside the emergency department physicians really helped me decide to pursue medicine.”
But that journey hasn’t come without challenges. During his first semester, Nguyen’s father passed away.
“That was really difficult; I considered dropping out,” he recalls. While contemplating his next move, Nguyen reached out to his family, mentors, and student ambassador Kayla Blanchard for guidance. “They showed me that my dad would have wanted me to continue. I am so thankful to my wife, Katrina, who kept me afloat in my darkest time.” With their support, Nguyen continued with his schoolwork and became involved in multiple extracurriculars, including as a student ambassador, lab coordinator, community assistant, and intramural basketball commissioner.
Now, hoping to make an impact at his residency, Nguyen plans to leverage his RUSM education and respiratory care expertise to become a great EM physician. “I have so much to learn so I’m trying to prepare myself to hit the ground running. I want to fuse my knowledge and provide my patients with the best care possible. I will give it my all.” Excited to begin his residency, Nguyen recognizes how medical school has changed him into a better person, “It was a really humbling experience. I wasn’t a bad person, but I was immature. Now, I feel that this is the person I’ve always wanted to be.”
Nguyen shares that his success in completing medical school would not have been possible without the support of his wife, family, and his mother-in-law, Silvia Gonzalez, who helps care for his one-year-old daughter Aria. Nguyen and his wife are also expecting their second child this July, just as Nguyen begins his intern year.
“I want medical students to know not to give up. It’s very hard, it’s challenging but just put in the work and you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. If I can make time when I’m commuting 160 miles per day for rotations, being a father, and going through some hardships, then you can do it too.”
Along with his family and friends, Nguyen says that his support system at RUSM was crucial to his journey and encourages current and future students to build those types of relationships. “Find a good mentor and stay close to them. Rossies supporting Rossies was the best part of my studies.”