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HowWe Serve A DOCTOR W I TH TH E N E E D FOR SP E E D
My favorite movie of all time is “Top Gun.” After watching it at least 100 times, I know that film backward and forward. This obsession stretches back all the way to childhood. As a kid, I would build models of the airplane they flew in the movie, the F-14 Tomcat. With this in mind, you won’t be surprised to hear that if I hadn’t become a doctor, then I would have been a fighter pilot. This wasn’t a dream that faded with childhood. Even today, I have told my wife that if joining the military wouldn’t mean so much time spent away from my family, I would have enlisted a long time ago. My desire to become a fighter pilot wasn’t born solely from watching the cool flying scenes set over the excellent “Top Gun” soundtrack — though that certainly was the beginning. My dad wasn’t in the Navy, but he did fly in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. I have always wanted to follow his lead and serve my country.
My parents came to the United States from Vietnam, and I was the first child in my family to be born in the U.S. Even as a kid, I was aware of the blessings my family enjoyed living in this country. As an adult, I have been fortunate to travel to other countries, including Vietnam, and see firsthand how different my life would have been had my parents not been able to come to America. I can imagine how things would have been different for my son. In my mind and in my heart, I’ve always wanted to give back to the country that has given my family so much.
Recently, I got angry after overhearing a phone call during which a member of my team gave a potential patient information over the phone, but then hung up without taking the time to learn what their problem really was. It infuriated me because when patients aren’t given the right help, they aren’t able to take the initiative to look beyond conventional treatments. It’s our duty to help the people who reach out to us and show them that yes, there are other options out there, and they don’t have to live in pain for the rest of their lives. I’m always lighting a fire under my staff to get them to see the magnitude of what they do — what’s at stake for patients when we don’t make the extra effort to show people how they can get better. Is being a doctor who treats neuropathy the same as flying a fighter plane? Far from it. But I believe the best way to repay this country for the blessings and opportunities my family has enjoyed is by helping people. It’s the way my mind is geared and I’m happy to do whatever it takes to serve wherever I can.
“In my mind and in my heart, I’ve always wanted to give back to the country that has given my family so much.”
I chose not to pursue a career in the military because I met my wonderful wife, and we had an amazing son together. It’s my responsibility to be there for them. But I work hard to do my part to serve my country as a doctor by helping my patients enjoy their lives. I take this responsibility very seriously and can be pretty passionate about it.
–Dr. Bao Tha i
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