Mumbi Ngugi MHS ’12

Mumbi Ngugi MHS '12 considers her job an honor.

As a physician assistant on a U.S. Air Force base, Ngugi treats active service members and their families.

"I get to interact with some of the country's unrecognized heroes, veterans, active duty persons and their families," Ngugi said. "That's the coolest part of the job, interacting with and listening to heroic stories of sacrifice and love for the country."

As an undergraduate, Ngugi volunteered at a local hospital where she discovered her passion for medicine. Ngugi earned a degree in business from the United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya. "Witnessing people get better gave me ultimate satisfaction," she said.

As a student, Ngugi found it valuable that Quinnipiac offered unique opportunities to fully prepare her as a physician assistant, such as offering a culture class that helped students explore race, ethnicity, gender, and religious differences. "When you're learning it, you don't realize how important it is, but now I'm comfortable working with all sorts of people," Ngugi said. She also welcomed the opportunities to get involved with community service in the Hamden area. "It really humbled me."

In addition to a career in medicine, Ngugi felt compelled to serve others by joining the U.S. Air Force, a mission that complemented the practice of medicine. "I like to help others. Medicine is a giving profession and the military is about service to one's country."

During her first semester at Quinnipiac, Ngugi approached an Air Force recruiter and applied for a competitive scholarship that paid for tuition in exchange for three years of military service. After earning her diploma in August 2012, she began work in the family medicine clinic at the Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala. Ngugi completed officer training school and then began seeing patients in November.

Working in family medicine on the Air Force base allows her to treat not just active duty service members - who typically have limited health problems - but also their families, ranging from children to age 65. "In my role, I get to sharpen my skills in pediatrics, treat the relatively healthy age 18-40 population, and also work with internal medicine patients treating chronic illnesses like hypertension or obesity," said Ngugi.

Her transition into military life and a career in medicine has been challenging, but rewarding. "I've seen some patients several times already. You recommend treatment and when they come back they've improved and they're so happy. You feel like you're making a difference."

 

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