2022 Tillman Scholar Nam grew up in Seoul, South Korea, before immigrating to the US at the age of ten. As an undergraduate student at UCLA, he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a combat medic with an aspiration to serve others. As he provided first aid and evacuated patients with other team members, he learned that the esprit de corps is the foundation of medical care. Soon after, he reciprocated his training from instructors and military physicians by mentoring other medics. When Nam was deployed in Afghanistan, he found his passion for medicine while treating wounded patients at his assigned outposts.
Following his discharge, Nam started medical school at the David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) and began working at the Cardiac Outcomes Research Laboratory (CORELAB) at UCLA. Through his research, Nam strives to advance healthcare at a systemic level. Beyond research, he has targeted gun violence, one of the leading causes of trauma-related death in the U.S. By implementing a gun violence prevention module and advocacy at DGSOM, Nam’s research aims to reduce firearm injuries and deaths in his community.
Recently, Nam had an opportunity to present his research project at a conference hosted by the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma in Chicago. Along with his presentation, Nam connected with fellow trauma surgeons.
“From the phenomenal works of other trauma surgeons, I learned how disparities in funding across hospitals could disproportionately affect under-resourced communities,” Nam said. “Unlike other pathologies, the clinical outcomes of trauma patients are most often dependent on the golden hour of the treatment. I felt the need for a multidisciplinary approach – among physicians, legislators, and public health specialists – in addressing policies to provide optimal resources, transportation, and care for patients experiencing trauma.”
Following his trip, Nam immediately began working with his classmates to bolster the Stop the Bleed project within their medical school campus. They held multiple workshops to train medical students in providing proper training to other healthcare professionals and educators in situations where they need to control a hemorrhage.
“By empowering individuals who are at least familiar with massive bleeding and ways to manage them, bystanders at sites of accidents may have a better opportunity to render care within the guidelines of the Good Samaritan Act,” said Nam.
After medical school, Nam plans to focus further in treating trauma patients. Remembering the vulnerability of injured patients he witnessed during his military service, Nam believes acute intervention is the best approach to helping them recover and heal. In particular, Nam hopes to work closely with the VA healthcare system to care for veterans who often experience long-lasting physical and mental traumas. In continuation of his community work and research endeavors, he aspires to improve the health of his community and beyond.