Josephine Nguyen, MD, MHCDS
When Josephine Nguyen was an undergraduate student at the U.S. Naval Academy, she noticed that leaders tended to all look the same: male, white, boldly extroverted. As a bright, perceptive introvert, she never saw leadership qualities in herself until 2012, when a Navy mentor asked her to be director of medical student accessions—essentially to be the face of Navy medicine, travel the country, talk to college students, and develop the board selection criteria for scholarships.
“I thought, that’s strange, why would he pick me? I didn’t even see the unique skill set that I had,” says Nguyen, who subsequently flourished in her role, increasing women and minority matriculation by 5%. “I realized I’m a go-getter. I have a lot of vision because I want to make an impact.”
Now, in addition to caring for active duty personnel and their families as a dermatologist, Nguyen serves as director of telehealth, chair of the healthcare ethics committee, and wardroom vice-president for Naval Hospital Bremerton in Washington. She developed a lecture series on leadership at her workplace and is passionate about patient advocacy. Nguyen serves as the Navy’s Young Physician Representative to the` American Medical Association (AMA) as well as chair of the Women’s Physician Section of the AMA, where she directs efforts to address emerging professional issues affecting over 70,000 women physicians and their patients in the House of Delegates.
An interest in developing her own leadership skills and the ability to nurture other non-traditional leaders was part of what interested Nguyen in the MHCDS program. Halfway through, she says, it has already made an impact, giving her the confidence to apply for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellowship, which prepares mid-career professionals to influence federal health policy.
“MHCDS really gave me the confidence, the skill set and the knowledge to prepare for a competitive program like this,” says Nguyen, a RJWF 2016-2017 fellow. “It taught me about negotiation and leadership and gave me a better understanding of what it takes to influence policy.”
Nguyen is also active in her church and the Vietnamese community, taking at least a couple hours a week to mentor up-and-coming leaders, yet she says the MHCDS program has fit seamlessly into her packed schedule.
“It is a time commitment, but not as all-encompassing as you might think because the faculty does such a good job of focusing the curriculum and making it easy for us to apply the knowledge to our current jobs,” says Nguyen.