Member of the Month: Christopher Trinh
Medical student loves the breadth and scope of family medicine
Christopher Trinh is a fourth-year medical student at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. He has served as the chair for the TAFP Section of Medical Students and he represents medical students on the TAFP Board of Directors. As a first generation Vietnamese-American born and raised in Texas, Trinh says he learned at an early age about the importance of family. “Growing up in America, all my family had was each other and I came to understand that our families provide a setting for much of the personal growth we experience in life,” he says. “As I grew up and developed a passion for medicine, I noticed that the core of family medicine shares many of the same principles I hold dear.” His goal is to pursue a sports medicine fellowship after completing a family medicine residency so he can become a team physician for a professional sports team.
Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it? Were you inspired by anyone?
I have worked with many family physicians who have inspired me. I was drawn to family medicine because of its depth and endless opportunities. The ability to form long lasting relationships with patients and advocate on their behalf fits the way I would like to practice medicine. I enjoy forming relationships with my patients, getting to know about their lives and family members, and then following up with them through the years. It’s amazing and deeply fulfilling to treat a patient and then years down the road treat their children and then later even treat their grandchildren. This type of perspective allows family physicians to be strong advocates for their patients due to a deep understanding of their patients’ health care needs. I also enjoy educating patients so they can be their own health care advocate. Whether it be through managing chronic diseases, lifestyle choices, or simply talking with patients who have gone through tough times a family physician can be the humanistic side of medicine that patients need to maintain health.
What keeps you going during medical school when things are hectic?
I am blessed to have such wonderful family and friends that keep me going during medical school. My parents have kept me motivated when times are tough. My successes are attributed to my parents who taught me that hard work and academics will allow me to achieve great things in life. My brother, Andrew, has always provided me good laughs and fun times when I needed it the most. Whenever stress builds I remind myself that I am lucky to be where I am in life. The days may be long but the years are short and I do my best to enjoy the journey that I am on.
How do you promote family medicine at your school?
As the TAFP Student Chairman and the Vice President of the family medicine interest group at my medical school, I took an active role in coordinating health fairs and recruiting students to help at these events. I am passionate about health fairs because they are highly beneficial to the community. During these health fairs, I found great pleasure in talking to people of all ages about preliminary test results and explaining the potential ramifications. It can be exactly what the patient needs to make that office appointment and start a much needed health care conversation. Preventive medicine and patient education are paramount at these health fairs and are at the core of family medicine. Once students see the impact they can make in the community as a family physician, more will be inspired to join the specialty.
What is the best lesson you have learned in medical school?
Medical school is not easy but the best lesson I learned is to always be able to adapt. Whether it is in life or in medicine, things are always changing and you have to adapt to survive. As a physician I plan to change with the times, take advantage of new opportunities in medicine and technology, and continue to learn and grow.
What are your future goals when you go into practice?
My goal is to be able to work in a setting that allows me to combine both family medicine and sports medicine. I want to able to work in a clinic but also be a physician for a professional sports team. I have envisioned myself working in a practice where I invest time in my patients because doctors cannot learn every aspect of a person just by looking at charts or running lab tests. This enhanced physician-patient relationship will contribute to better health care outcomes through increased patient compliance. In addition to providing care for people as a physician, I want to give back to the community that I am a part of. Two causes I would place my efforts in are the Wounded Warriors Project and the Make a Wish Foundation. Regardless of the stage of my career, I want to become a family physician who sees his time in clinic as just spending time with the family.
The most important resource I find TAFP offers me is:
The people are the best part of TAFP. I have met so many inspiring physicians who are passionate about family medicine. Learning about the intricacies of medical legislation and politics has been an incredibly informative experience. It has reinforced my desire to have a future in organized medicine. Being involved with the TAFP Board of Directors and the Section on Medical Students has opened up my eyes to all the hard work that is done by TAFP, such as informing physicians about changes in health care, fighting to restructure health care legislation, and helping students who are interested in family medicine. My experiences with TAFP have been some of the most memorable and enriching experiences during my time in medical school. Testifying on resolutions at the AAFP Congress of Delegates and seeing prominent physicians in the field listen attentively shows how much family medicine leaders value student input. I cannot thank this wonderful organization enough for the opportunities it has provided me. I would like to give back to TAFP by continuing to be involved within the organization and advocating for family medicine.
How do you think we can attract more medical students to family medicine?
To attract more students into this specialty, we must show students what family medicine truly is. From preventive medicine, OBGYN, sports medicine, pediatrics, all the way to geriatrics and palliative care, family medicine is so broad that it has something for everyone. This is the only specialty that lets you combine so many fields of interest and truly take care of the whole person throughout their entire life. There is a misguided image of family medicine in many medical schools that fails to show the full breath of the specialty and just how many work opportunities exist. Clerkships should allow students to see the full range of opportunities available to them if they decide to become family physicians.
How do you spend your free time?
I like to spend my free time with the people who matter most to me, my family and friends. I enjoy going on dates and adventures with my girlfriend Kristina. My brother and I attend every TCU sports event that we can, go Horned Frogs! Cooking is also a hobby that I really enjoy. In fact, I won the TCU Iron Chef competition as a senior in college.
TAFP’s Member of the Month program highlights Texas family physicians in TAFP News Now and on the TAFP website. We feature a biography and a Q&A with a different TAFP member each month and his or her unique approach to family medicine. If you know an outstanding family physician colleague who you think should be featured as a Member of the Month or if you’d like to tell your own story, nominate yourself or your colleague by contacting TAFP by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (512) 329-8666. View past Members of the Month here.