By Katinka Podmaniczky

Dr. Huy Nguyen recently joined the BPHC staff as Boston’s newest medical director. As part of national Public Health Awareness week, I got to sit down and talk with him a little bit about his background, what he looks forward to working on at the Commission, and his favorite things to do outside the office.

Dr. Nguyen started his career in Boston as an under-grad at Harvard, and later as a medical student there. After completing his pediatric training in Seattle, he came back to the Hub to work- at Dorchester House Multi-Service Center, a community health center. “I enjoyed building relationships with patients and families as their primary care doctor and realized that in an urban setting I could really make a difference,” he explained. His focus was on promoting early childhood literacy andculturally competent care of families of different backgrounds Dr. Nguyen also worked to create a teen-friendly clinic environment by ensuring that adolescents could be seen when they needed care in a way that acknowledged their increasing independence and respected their concerns for confidentiality.

Although he loved the work, he told me that he sometimes felt limited by opportunities to make changes in day-to-day primary care. In working with the large Vietnamese-American community in Fields Corner, Dr. Nguyen said he began to realize that many of the problems facing his individual patients were in fact shared by the community– they were larger, population-based problems like asthma and poor nutrition. “I saw the dots connect,” he said, “and I wanted look for ways to help the larger group.”

What does he look forward to at the Boston Public Health Commission? “I have a real interest in helping vulnerable populations, as well as understanding how our public health programs unfold on the ground in the community. I have seen first-hand patients’ struggles with illness. I have heard patients’ stories of the difficult challenges that they work hard to overcome every day.  So I want to contribute my experience to the ongoing effort to give our neighborhoods the best opportunity to be healthy.”

But he is unwilling to limit his goals at the Commission to his clinical interests. “Right now I’m busy understanding the tools we have as the city’s health department and working to advance our ongoing initiatives,” he explained. “While there is so much great work being done at the Commission, I think there are many more opportunities as we try to bring together public health and primary care to ensure health and wellness for everyone who lives, works, and studies in Boston..”

He hasn’t totally left “the frontline,” though, as he calls it. He still cares for children and adolescents at his clinic at Dorchester House parttime.

If such a busy schedule leaves any time at all, he loves trying out new recipes in the kitchen with his wife, Kathy, and spending time with his two sons searching for planets and galaxies through his backyard telescope.

Welcome, Dr. Nguyen! We are so pleased to have you on board.

Katinka Podmaniczky is the assistant communications director for the Public Health Commission. You can meet other BPHC employees here and here.