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It Was Always Peds

Linh Nguyen, DO, shares her journey as a pediatric hospital medicine fellow.

Linh Nguyen, DO, shares her journey as a pediatric hospital medicine fellow

Linh Nguyen, DO, shares her journey as a pediatric hospital medicine fellow.

From a young age, martial arts taught Linh Nguyen, DO, two things. One – she loved kids; two – she enjoyed teaching.

“I participated in martial arts since I could walk and then started teaching when I was in high school and college, so I worked with kids a lot,” Nguyen said.

Guided by those twin passions, the Houston, Texas native would eventually find that medicine was her passion and make pediatrics her specialty.

“Throughout my residency, I tried to be broad and flexible about learning other specialties but I think it always came back to peds,” she said.

As a child, a career in medicine was far from her mind until life presented an unforeseen obstacle that would be the catalyst behind her journey in medicine.

“I was in high school when my mother was diagnosed with leukemia,” Nguyen said. This would be her first up-close encounter with the health care system. “In hindsight, she was the reason I got into medicine.”

Years of perseverance and dedication later, Nguyen has completed her residency training at the Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine and is set to complete her fellowship in pediatric hospital medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville in June.

The perfect fit

The road to a fellowship is quite competitive. However, a mentor would point her in the right direction.

“My mentor spoke highly of Dr. Matthew Garber and assured me I would receive great training here at UF COMJ including experience in quality improvement and medical education research,” she said.

The pediatric hospital medicine fellowship is relatively new and Nguyen is part of the second class of fellows. She sees it as an opportunity to shape the program for future fellows.

“Things are changing,” said Nguyen. “We’re constantly making improvements and our program directors take our feedback seriously. I’m constantly thinking about how we can improve for the fellows that will come after me.”

Lisa Awe, MD, FAAP, a UF assistant professor and associate director of the pediatric hospital medicine fellowship program, raves about Nguyen’s contributions to the program.

“Dr. Nguyen is my right hand and exemplifies an ambitious attitude and dedication to leap past the status quo. Our fellows help run the simulation, and she not only creates the simulation content but also helps write up the work. She often stays late because she loves teaching and helping residents or comes early to lead orientations and complete thoughtful evaluations. I am going to miss her so much when she graduates.”

This fellowship has also given her the ability to focus on research. Currently, Nguyen is working on a project focused on lumbar punctures, specifically, how physicians can improve the success rate and prevent contamination.

The best care for kids

“We all want the same thing. We all want what’s best for the kids,” she said.

As a pediatric fellow, she stresses listening to the patients' parents is key.

“Parents truly know what’s best for their kids, so I use my clinical management and the parents' accounts to best care for the child,” said Nguyen. “As patients get older, I like them to speak on their own, especially teenagers. This teaches them to be involved in their care and advocate for themselves.”

Because her mother did not speak fluent English, she goes the extra mile to make sure her patients never experience care negatively impacted by a language barrier.

“When I take care of my patients and their families, especially those who may not speak English, I make sure I spend more time with them making sure they really understand what’s going on. That way they don’t have the same issue my mom had when she was sick,” she said.

Road to Texas

“I’ll really miss the division, they’ve become my second family,” said Nguyen. “The faculty here are all about teaching and have done their best to make sure we are ready to leave and be great doctors. I will never forget their guidance.”

Nguyen will be going back to her home state with her husband after graduation. In August, she will start as a pediatric hospitalist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

Outside of medicine, she loves Broadway musicals, reading, her plants and exercise. She looks forward to spending as much time with her friends, family and colleagues until she starts her new chapter in Texas.

Linh Nguyen, DO, stands with colleagues at the 2024 Pediatric Academic Society.
Linh Nguyen, DO, stands with colleagues at the 2024 Pediatric Academic Society.
Dr. Nguyen stands with her husband James
Dr. Nguyen stands with her husband James

About the author

Kristian Thomas
Communications Coordinator

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