Magazine article Medical Economics

Doctors Who Go the Extra Mile: Phuong Duc Dang, MD: A Whole Day off? for Him, Never

Magazine article Medical Economics

Doctors Who Go the Extra Mile: Phuong Duc Dang, MD: A Whole Day off? for Him, Never

Article excerpt

Phuong Duc Dang vividly recalls the moment he decided to become a doctor. Visiting a relative in the hospital in his native Vietnam, he saw a woman in labor. But the hospital refused to admit her; she had no money.

Dang remembers thinking, "If I become a doctor, I can help people like that:' He was 9 years old.

Now, at 48, the FP single-handedly cares for several thousand Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, and Mexican immigrants in Oakland, CA.

"He fills a great need here," says cardiologist Ronald K.L. Szeto, who has treated many of Dang's patients. "He's a very well-rounded family physician, and solo practice with a low-income, immigrant population unfamiliar with American medicine takes a lot of patience and perseverance:'

No wonder Dang hasn't taken a vacation in five years. But what can he do, he asks, when there are so few others who can speak his patients' language, understand their culture, and be sensitive to their fears?

So he continues, tired but happy, and very grateful for his life in America. The seventh of nine children, Dang graduated from the University of Saigon medical school in 1975, the year South Vietnam came under Communist rule. He spent two years as a surgical intern at the Hong Bang teaching hospital in Ho Chi Minh City before deciding that life under Communism wasn't for him.

"We had no medicines, no antibiotics, nothing to treat the patients," says Dang. What gnawed at him most, however, was the lack of freedom under the new regime. …

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