Member of the Month: Mary Nguyen, MD
TAFP President to work to further TAFP mission during term
By Samantha White
Mary Nguyen, MD, was installed as TAFP President on November 6, 2021, at TAFP’s Annual Session and Primary Care Summit. In her year of service to the Academy, she hopes to spread the message of the specialty, and encourage medical students to choose family medicine as a career.
“As we address the problem of health care, we need to remember what drew us to medicine in the first place. Remember the physicians that carried the title of physician before us,” Nguyen said in her official presidential address after being sworn in. “I’m here as a wife, a mother, and a physician. I’m a refugee here to give back to the country I have adopted. As the new president of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, I’m fully vaccinated and ready to go.”
Nguyen shares a family medicine practice with her husband in the rural town of Castroville and counts special needs advocacy as near and dear to her heart. She attended medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and completed residency at Christus Santa Rosa in San Antonio. She served as a Member Constituency Delegate to the AAFP Congress of Delegates and is the treasurer of the TAFP Alamo Chapter.
Why do you think members should become active in TAFP business?
Family medicine education and practice experience teaches us what challenges young medical students and new physicians will face. Learning from and experiencing TAFP gives you an opportunity to share lessons learned with those just starting their careers in family medicine.
How has your experience been working your way through the TAFP officer positions in the last few years?
Each position has unique learning experiences with their own viewpoints and challenges. It allowed me to learn the full spectrum of what TAFP is involved in as well as lessons that I can use in my own practice. There is much to learn, and the leadership opportunities have helped me better manage my office as well as learn how to better run meetings.
What do you hope to achieve in your year as TAFP President?
During this year I hope to share knowledge that I have gained over 21 years in practice and use that experience to spread the message of family medicine to those I engage with in my official capacity. I also hope to encourage medical students to enter family medicine residencies or at least consider primary care specialties as a career choice. I also hope to increase awareness of the value and importance of family medicine.
What unique challenges are represented in your patient community?
Working in a rural underserved community during these past two years of the pandemic has taught me the need for technology as well as more family doctors to allow for better access to care. Telemedicine has been a new and challenging adventure working in a rural community. Internet access is a challenge in our community and many of my patients do not know how to maneuver their smartphones if they happen to have one. I have patients who still have a flip phone, and some have to travel to a neighbor’s or family member’s home in order to get internet access. We need to ensure that family physicians are treated appropriately with the implementation of new technologies.
How has your practice been going over the last few years?
The past few years have been challenging with the pandemic and the changing rules and regulations. As with most businesses, we have had challenges with keeping staff and hiring new staff. We have also seen a loss in income due to the pandemic, but we modified office procedures and patient flow to adapt to these changes and continue to remain flexible as the health care landscape changes.
What do you enjoy doing outside of medicine?
With the pandemic I haven’t been able to attend the symphony or the theater which I miss terribly, but it has allowed more family time. We play more games at home and stream movies. I’m an avid reader and enjoy a quiet evening reading a good book.
TAFP’s Member of the Month program highlights Texas family physicians in TAFP News Now and on the TAFP website. We feature a biography and a Q&A with a different TAFP member each month and his or her unique approach to family medicine. If you know an outstanding family physician colleague who you think should be featured as a Member of the Month or if you’d like to tell your own story, nominate yourself or your colleague by contacting TAFP by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (512) 329-8666. View past Members of the Month here.