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March 2017 Member of the Month

David Tran, MD

David Tran, MD is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, and is currently a third year resident at the Long Beach Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program. Dr. Tran serves as a CAFP Legislative Key Contact and participated as an expert reviewer on the Song Brown panel, helping to review funding applications for family medicine residencies.


Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it?

I chose family medicine because of its diversity. I love seeing patients of all different age groups and treating all different kinds of health problems; it never gets boring! My favorite aspect of family medicine is the relationship we develop with our patients. I’ve gotten to know so many interesting families and their stories over the last few years.


Were you inspired by anyone to pursue family medicine?

A few people inspired me: Dr. Jay Lee, Dr. Tipu Khan, and Dr. Mai Phuong Nguyen. I was inspired by their spirit of activism and their desire to serve those in need. I admired Dr. Lee’s revolutionary attitude toward primary care, Dr. Khan’s bravery and boldness in global health, and Dr. Nguyen’s fire for community health. They have been great mentors and I hope to shape my practice with those values in mind.  


What is the most interesting/memorable experience you have had when dealing with a patient?

During a trip with Good Samaritan Medical and Dental Ministry in 2016, high up in the mountains of Vietnam, I saw a patient with a toxic thyroid goiter that needed surgery. He said that he had been seen by a doctor during a mission trip the previous year and sent to the city for surgery. Unfortunately he was later deemed too unstable to operate on. When I asked him who the doctor was – it was me! It turns out I had seen him before. Despite being on the other side of the planet in a rural village in the mountains, I was his primary care physician.


what one word or phrase characterizes your style of family medicine

Be bold.


what is the best experience you have had during your career as a family physician so far?

Many years ago, as a medical student, I was offered the opportunity to go to the All Member Advocacy Meeting in Sacramento. After an inspiring dinner with CAFP members, I stepped out for a walk around the State Capitol to clear my head. I found myself sitting on the steps of the Capitol, flooded with feelings of awe and appreciation for the work that family physicians were doing outside the walls of hospitals and clinics. I think that was the moment when it occurred to me why policy matters so much – it’s primary care physicians who are responsible for translating policy into community action and vice versa. It is one of the most important ways to make our patients heard.


It is important for me to be a member of CAFP and AAFP because:

CAFP and AAFP have been extremely important in my medical education since my early days as a medical student. From FMIG support to conference scholarships and residency fairs, there are huge opportunities for medical students to get involved. CAFP and AAFP really listen to medical students and residents and see us as the future of the profession. I have had incredible mentorship through CAFP.


what has been your best experience as a CAFP member? Why?

The Match Day campaign in 2014 – it was so exciting to look around on Match Day and see so many fliers for family medicine waving in the air. I was amazed to see this happen at medical schools all over California at the same time, and there was a palpable enthusiasm for primary care.


The most important resource I find CAFP offers me is:

A voice. Medical trainees don’t always feel empowered during their education, but CAFP has helped me realize that there is more to being a physician than medical school alone can realistically teach you. CAFP has provided a great platform to learn, participate, and get involved with policy initiatives that affect our state. A lot of medical students have asked me about health policy and where they can get started; CAFP has been a great space for that.


how do you make a difference in family medicine in your community?

I love that my residency program practices family medicine on all levels. My attendings are deeply involved in statewide health policy initiatives. We reach out to local elementary schools, high schools and colleges to provide Sports Medicine. We do home visits. We deliver babies. We are in the hospital, the emergency room, and the clinic. We are deeply rooted in our diverse community in Long Beach, and we are proud of it!


tell us about a project in which you are involved and why it is important to you:

I was involved with the Song Brown Program as an expert reviewer. There weren’t many residents on the panel, and I was grateful to be part of reviewing funding applications for special programs in family medicine residencies. The program funds projects throughout the state that focus on underserved and diverse communities, outreach and mentorship. I was amazed to learn how much each and every residency program in our state invests in their local community. The Song Brown program is a good example of how statewide policy can affect hundreds, if not thousands of people from the statewide level down to the level of communities, families, and individuals. Diverse voices are needed to speak to these needs.


What are good qualities a family physician should have?

Patience, curiosity, and kindness. Get to know your patients; they have so much to teach you.


Do you remember your personal statement for medical school? If so, would you like to share an excerpt?

“My decision to pursue a career in medicine is motivated by the needs of the communities I worked with.”


What one sentence of advice would you give to medical students interested in family medicine?

Figure out what values motivate you to be a better physician; these are the values that will drive your training through medical school, residency and beyond and carry you through the toughest of times.


How do you spend your free time?

I spend my time constantly traveling, doing martial arts or rollerblading on half pipes.


If you weren’t a doctor what would you be doing with your career?

I would probably be teaching and competing in martial arts. I’m a third degree black belt in taekwondo, and in the last few years I’ve been learning krav maga, kickboxing and Brazilian jiujitsu.


What would your best friend say about you?

That guy is crazy.


Tell us something fun/unusual about yourself:

I used to work in a cadaver lab – that job was full of weird stories.


Tell us briefly about your family:

My parents were refugees from the Vietnam War; they left during the Fall of Saigon in 1975. I was raised by strong women and I have two older sisters. One sister works in Hollywood and the other is an internal medicine physician. I have many nieces and nephews, plus a large extended family. I’ll be getting married next year and will have four new brothers at that time. I’m lucky to have a supportive (and patient) fiancé who has kept me sane throughout residency. Balance is key.


Each month, CAFP highlights one outstanding California family physician member who lends their voice, time, talent and resources to strengthen the specialty of family medicine and his or her community. The Member of the Month interviews are conducted by CAFP staff. If you choose to share this article, feel free, but give appropriate source and author information. If you would like to share your story or know a family physician colleague who deserves to be recognized for his or her impact or leadership, contact us at (415) 345-8667 or email.