Madison and Allison Nguyen

Doctors in the house

December 4, 2023


Alums Madison and Allison Nguyen see many overlaps in their education and career paths.

The sisters both came to the University of Richmond with an interest in healthcare and thought-out plans to prepare for medical and dental school. They pursued research, internships, and extracurricular activities, and they still compare notes about the Richmond professors they shared and loved.

Now, the sisters are continuing their education and training at Virginia Commonwealth University — Madison as a resident and Allison as a first-year dental school student.

Allison, who graduated from UR last year, has known since she was young that she wanted to pursue dentistry. She says the hands-on nature of the work is a natural parallel to her creative interests in the arts and music. Meanwhile, Madison was drawn to the deep relationships with fellow doctors and nurses, as well as patients and their families.

“A lot of how I care for patients comes down to me knowing their preferences, knowing who they are as individual people,” she said.

Once at Richmond, the sisters worked closely with their advisors to carefully map out the classes and experiences that would prepare them for medical careers. Madison, a 2018 grad, joined the pre-medicine fraternity, shadowed doctors, volunteered in community clinics, and conducted research with chemistry professor Michelle Hamm.

Allison worked in biology professor Carrie Wu’s lab, and later interned with an orthodontist she found through Career Services and the Richmond alumni network. She also joined the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega and volunteered with a Remote Area Medical clinic where she assisted dentists and doctors in providing care for 500 patients in a single weekend.

“That was a defining moment,” she said. “I got to interact with patients who needed dentures and better oral care and translated for Spanish-speaking patients. Being able to connect with the community members, not only in Richmond but beyond, solidified my passion for service and helping underserved populations in dentistry.”

While Madison said her research and other field-related experiences helped prepare for medical school, it was her semester studying abroad in Copenhagen that often brought the most interest during medical school interviews.

“What was so neat about that experience is that I planned it so that I could take courses abroad that counted toward my healthcare studies minor,” she said. “That allowed me to stay on top of things, keeping in mind that I wanted to go to medical school right after I graduated.”

Madison graduated from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in 2022 and is now a second-year resident in VCU’s Department of Internal Medicine. Allison joined her this year at the VCU School of Dentistry.

“I knew I wanted to practice and get my training in a large city with a diverse population,” Madison said. “And a large portion of the patient population here is underserved, too, which was highly beneficial and meaningful. It’s nice to have everything come full circle.”