Nancy Nguyen, MD
Medical School: University of Southern California, Los Angeles
“What in the world are you doing here?” has generally been the initial response I receive once people find out that I was born and raised in California and now will call Cleveland my new home. In retrospect, on Match Day my feelings were extremely conflicted when I opened my envelope to reveal my fate for the next three years. I had received my top choice at Cleveland Clinic, training at a residency program that offers world-class care, but I would have to leave my friends and family and venture into the unknown of the Midwest.
Reflecting on the application process and the decisions that lead up to the ultimate result, I realize that Cleveland Clinic was the obvious choice. When evaluating the different programs, I knew that I wanted the vigorous training upfront during my residency so that I would be prepared and confident to practice medicine for the rest of my career. Overall, I wanted a well-rounded program that focused on interests that aligned with my own. I envisioned training at an institution that emphasized patient care and diversity, while balanced with life long learning. Additionally, I knew I was interested in specializing, so searched for a program that excelled in offering networking and research opportunities that would prepare me to be a competitive candidate for fellowship.
Fast-forward to the first week of orientation, the idea of transitioning from medical student to resident was a frightening one. As interns, we started out unsure of ourselves, feeling unworthy of the long coats we wore throughout the halls. Now, just two months into residency, I have witnessed a transformation occur within our class. I’ve noticed that many of us have begun to develop the confidence and clinical skills to manage some of the sickest patients in the nation. We have become advocates for our patients, truly owning our roles as their physicians. I believe this change is attributed to having expert specialists in their fields that serve as our attendings while senior residents and fellows offer a supportive environment conducive to learning on the wards. Additionally, with the protected learning time on our academic half days, we are able to supplement our first hand experience learning from direct patient care with traditional lecture style learning to reinforce the concepts crucial in practicing medicine.
In terms of life outside the hospital walls, I have been pleasantly surprised and realized that Cleveland is quite possibly the most underrated city that exists. I can live downtown in my own apartment for the price that others living in New York or San Francisco pay to share a room quarter of its size. It offers a plethora of activities to help unwind from a stressful day at the hospital including extensive hiking and biking trails at the Cleveland Metroparks, enjoying a sports event at an Indians, Cavs or Browns game, catching a comedy show at Hilarities in East 4th St, relaxing with some music at the House of Blues or with the Cleveland Orchestra, or appreciating the arts at Cleveland Museum of Arts or with a Broadway show the Playhouse Square. And if you enjoy food like me, you’ll love the wide variety of cuisine available throughout the city ranging from fine dining at top rated restaurants such as Michael Symon’s Lola to stuffing your face at a hole in the wall joint serving authentic food, wondering if your stomach will have to pay for it later.
Overall, the program has exceeded all of my expectations as I see myself growing into a competent, well-rounded physician I aspire to become. My advice for the whole application process would be to choose a program that offers you the best fit in terms of your professional and personal interests. I could tell you not to stress about it but you naturally will, as the decision is a daunting one. In the end, trust your gut and it won’t let you down – it has definitely worked for me.