Katie Huynh proves hard work and dedication make all the difference
There is a reason neurosurgery is a standard of difficulty and skill in our society. Hearing, “It’s not like it’s brain surgery,” is a common comparison used to diminish the difficulty of lesser tasks for good reason. After completing eleven years of medical school and residency, with some opting for an additional fellowship, neurosurgeons have a strong dedication to their craft and make sacrifices to see their hard work pay off.
“When I was going through my residency, I was initially accepted into a general surgery residency and later switched to neurosurgery after two years,” Katie Huynh (pronounced “win”), D.O., a new surgeon with Kootenai Clinic Neurosurgery, said. “I felt that if I was going to be away from my little girls it better be for something I’m absolutely crazy and passionate about.”
Dr. Huynh is no stranger to sacrifice and large challenges. In addition to finishing a fellowship program where she spent the past year focusing on rigorous, detail-oriented surgeries in hard-to-reach areas of the brain, she also spent a good portion of her life overcoming the many challenges of being a Vietnamese refugee, moving to the U.S. with her family at the age of 6.
“You know that phrase, fresh off the boat? That was my family,” Dr. Huynh said. “My father was an officer in Vietnam, fighting against the Viet Cong. He was supposed to go into one of the ‘reeducation’ camps in 1980, but instead, we packed up and fled the country at night on a small boat.”
Luckily, the family was spotted and picked up by a U.S. military vessel. Dr. Huynh and her family spent the next two years living in three refugee camps before settling in the projects of Boston in 1982.
Dr. Huynh’s heritage has greatly influenced the way she practices medicine, although not necessarily in the way one would think. She explained many developing nations are patriarchal. Physicians dictate patient care and not much is questioned or discussed.
“I will never practice medicine like that,” she said. “I work with my patients and their families in order to have better outcomes. If there’s a lack of understanding, I’m doing them a disservice. It’s a team effort.”
The patient experience and care model are just a couple of the many reasons Dr. Huynh was interested in Kootenai Health as an option following her fellowship. After learning more about the services and specialties offered at Kootenai, she was most excited about collaborating with other area physicians and completing a well-rounded neuroscience team.
“Dr. Ganz (a neurosurgeon with Neurosurgery and Spine Northwest) told me about the stroke program being built, and how many patients in the area have to be sent out of state for care,” she explained. “I want to complement and support a neurosurgical team like the neuroscience team at Kootenai that is working to keep patients here. I saw that opportunity and that’s what drew me to the area.”
You can read the complete story about Dr. Huynh in issue three of Kootenai Health Magazine – expected to hit homes the first week of August.
Dr. Huynh is practicing at Kootenai’s newest specialty clinic, Kootenai Clinic Neurosurgery located in Coeur d’Alene. You can learn more about her services at kh.org or by calling (208) 625-6799.