bread-and-butter is not how we'd describe this pediatrician
Dr. Vi Ngo is a pediatric resident based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her interview with Fabled beautifully highlights how even when life is full of twists and turns, it doesn't mean we get lost. Take a page from her book and you'll see how living authentically and embracing the journey will always get you to where you need to go.
Tell us about a time you felt really proud of yourself.
Honestly? Finishing medical school. My professional life actually began in healthcare administration — I spent three years working in operations, strategic planning, and finance/capital. But then I realized my passion was really in patient care. This meant starting over from square one: general chemistry! Many times along the way I thought I had made the wrong decision because I didn't feel like I was good at the academic stuff. But when I started working with patients and families, where my strengths shined, I realized I could become a great provider. I felt proud when I finally crossed the finish line. It's really a huge privilege to care for children, and most days I still can't believe I get paid to do this work.
What's something about you that might surprise others?
I was born in Vietnam and grew up in a very conservative Vietnamese Catholic community. Coming out meant I had to let go of a lot of that community where being queer was not accepted. I've returned to Vietnam twice since leaving as a child. When I'm traveling, I like to find quiet, empty churches to sit and meditate in — part of me still appreciates the tranquility of silent places of worship, but I no longer attend mass or church when others are around.
What's your biggest insecurity or fear, and how do you manage it?
I often questioned if I should continue pursuing medicine because the early academic years didn't come so easily to me. Those doubts stay with me, especially since I'm still in training and have so much to learn, but I let them serve as healthy motivation to work extra hard and get better every day. Staying connected to the mentors who've always told me they believe in me also helps. Mentorship and support from senior physicians has often made the difference between staying in medicine versus quitting. #grateful
Mentorship and support from senior physicians has often made the difference between staying in medicine versus quitting.
How do you recharge outside of work?
My life outside work is filled with baking bread, climbing, and lots of nature time (hiking, swimming, camping, etc.). I set one goal for myself during my intern year, and that was to go on a hike at least twice a month. So the one day I had off every week I would go hiking. It totally helped me reset, recharge, and manage the long hours of internship.
My life outside work is filled with baking bread, climbing, and lots of nature time (hiking, swimming, camping, etc.).
We're humbled and inspired by Vi's strong sense of purpose and identity, and hope it will encourage others to look inwards when life feels messy on the outside. Please share this post with any friends or colleagues who might be unsure of their path forward either because they came to healthcare from another career and it wasn't what they expected, or because of other life curve balls and surprises.
We love to hear about how healthcare professionals are doing the whole work-life balance thing. If you know someone who can teach us a thing or two, email us their details (with their permission, of course).
Check out more of Vi's delicious bread recipes and outdoor adventures on her instagram here.
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