<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=799546403794687&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Thy Nguyen | Match Day 2024

At the Intersection of Research and Advocacy

Thy Nguyen envisions a residency match that plays to her passion for reproductive health care and solving the challenges that come along with it.

minute read

Written by Kara Mason on March 1, 2024
What You Need To Know
This story is part of the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Match Day coverage. Match Day 2024 is on March 15.

For Thy Nguyen, becoming a doctor wasn’t initially part of the plan. However, experience after experience kept nudging her toward the University of Colorado School of Medicine and a life dedicated to helping others through health care.

“I didn’t think I would be a doctor when I finished undergrad,” she says.

Nguyen, who was raised in Arizona, graduated from the University of Virginia in 2014 and took on a job in environmental health consulting. From there, she knew she wanted to play a more tangible role in the lives and health of others.

“So, I quit my job and moved to Austin, Texas, where I worked as a medical assistant at an OB/GYN clinic with the intent of applying to nurse midwifery school,” she says. Nguyen finished the necessary pre-requisite classes, but a physician she was working with at the time raised an important question that once again changed her trajectory: Why not medicine?

“It was the first time I had a mentor propose the idea that I could succeed in medicine,” Nguyen says. “Even though I’d finished all of the pre-requisites I needed for nursing school, I scrapped everything and started a post-baccalaureate program in medicine.”

TN healthcare rally 2.26.24

Thy Nguyen and fellow CU School of Medicine students at the “Students for Healthcare Access Rally” at the Denver Capitol, organized by Students for a National Health Program. Photos courtesy of Thy Nguyen.

Simultaneously, Nguyen had been volunteering as a doula in a jail for women, leading prenatal support classes and assisting at births.

“It was an incredible experience, and it affirmed my interest in reproductive health and justice,” she says.

Now, awaiting the news of where she’ll spend the next four years for residency, Nguyen believes her future is cemented in the intersection of research and advocacy.

Building a better OB/GYN future

As a medical student, Nguyen has found community, especially in the projects and research she’s been a part of since matriculating at the university.

The project she’s most proud of, she says, is working with a group of medical students and OBGYN physicians to start a formal longitudinal curriculum in OB/GYN to grow interest in the program and increase student preparedness for OB/GYN rotations.

“That’s been a big passion project of mine during my time here,” she says. “We all have this vision of cultivating an inclusive and positive space for students in their medical education.”

As part of the effort, the group created a shadowing program at Denver Health, started an intro to OB/GYN elective for medicine students, and brought in faculty lecturers to talk about subspecialties.

TN match day profile 2.26.24

Thy Nguyen, bottom right, and participants of the Denver Health Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship, which had a curricular focus on community health, advocacy, equity, and social justice.

Similarly, research became a big part of Nguyen’s life at CU. Last spring, she was honored for her presentation at the Society for Reproductive Investigation annual meeting in Australia on the mechanisms by which obesity is associated with relative infertility in women.

Nguyen worked with Nanette Santoro, MD, professor and head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, on the research.

“When I was a first-year student, I was lucky enough to get in touch with Dr. Santoro and integrate into her lab,” Nguyen says. “I’ve been working on this project ever since and it’s been incredible to see it progress. That lab feels like a little family and has given me a good sense of community.”

Continuing the journey

The longer road to finding her right place in medicine has been well worth it, Nguyen says. From the encouragement from her parents, who immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam, to the support from the communities she’s cultivated along the way, Nguyen sees a fulfilling future beyond medical school.

“I’ve had so many people along the way to get me to this point, and it’s felt sort of like a chain reaction,” she says. “I have so much gratitude for them and the journey I’m on.”

TN vietnam 2.26.24

Thy Nguyen, left, in Vietnam with her family. In the future, Nguyen says she could see herself practicing as an OB/GYN physician in the country where her parents immigrated from before she was born. 

As for her passion in reproductive health and advocacy, there’s no shortage of topics Nguyen sees herself taking on in her residency program and beyond.

“There are so many different avenues that combine research and advocacy,” she says. “I would love to be involved in projects that investigate the effects of systemic racism on maternal health, especially because maternal mortality is increasing in the United States. Whatever we can do from a clinical practice level to address those outcomes, I’m all in.”

Topics: Education, Community