There’s a new documentary series hitting the web called “I’m Also a Doctor”. It looks at the lives of five healthcare professionals and their talents outside of work, including a doctor with a rock band, a neurologist who loves to surf, an anesthesiologist who dabbles in 18th century costume design, a dentist who is an equestrian, and an emergency room physician who is an ocean photographer. The five-episode series, which premiered on November 2, is a joint venture between Laurel Road and VICE Media Group.
Dr. Phuong Nguyen, a pediatric surgeon with UTHealth and chief of pediatric plastic surgery at Children’s Memorial Hermann in Houston, used the opportunity to show off his band Help the Doctor, founded in Los Angeles in 2012. As the lead singer and guitarist of the group, he formed the band with his fellow residency students on the UCLA medical campus. Nguyen said he first fell in love with music after hearing the introduction to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns ‘n Roses when he was just eight years old.
“A lot of times, medicine — as much as we deal with human beings — it’s extraordinarily pragmatic. There’s not a lot of time to reflect in the heat of things,” he said. “[Music] allows me an access point for emotions that I probably wouldn’t get to access otherwise.”
This isn’t the first time Nguyen has received attention for his singing abilities. His band went viral in 2020 for their song “Stay At Home” during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The music video featured physicians from all over the country and ended with a link where people could buy masks.
He also performed in Demi Lovato’s cover of Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day” during a virtual concert following President Joe Biden’s inauguration in 2021.
Nguyen decided to audition the band for “I’m Also a Doctor” after seeing a casting call online. He heard back from the producers in September at the same time the band was scheduled to perform in San Diego at a benefit for ConnectMed International, an organization that provides resources for reconstructive surgeries for children and adults around the world.
“That was already in the works, so I thought it was pretty good timing,” he said. The producers ended up getting live footage of their performance, which made its way into the final cut of the documentary.
He said he first learned how to play guitar after he fell off his bike as a teenager.
“I couldn’t do anything during that summer, so I picked up a guitar, took two lessons at the local music store, and that was it,” he said. “I listened to a lot of grunge, so I spent the whole summer figuring out how to play all those records.”
He doesn’t have as much time to play these days as he did when he was a resident at UCLA now that he has a two-year-old son at home, but Help the Doctor still plays two or three shows a year in LA.
“Oftentimes we’ll be asked to play shows around the country, kind of centered around some of our medical meetings and things like that,” he said.
Nguyen had the opportunity to meet the other doctors featured in the documentary. He said doctors are naturally competitive, so they all wanted to excel at their respective passions.
“That’s the way I feel about my rock ‘n’ roll career,” he said. “Clearly, I’m not as financially successful as a major stadium-touring band. But when I get onstage, I want to make sure that you’re going to leave that show thinking ‘Wow, I just saw an amazing band.’”