Episode 68: Dr. Tea Nguyen (She/Her) of Pacific Point Podiatry - Watsonville, CA

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Direct Care Doctor

Dr. Tea is a podiatrist in Watsonville, Ca
Dr. Tea Nguyen of Pacific Point Podiatry

Dr. Tea Nguyen is a board certified podiatrist with a subspecialty in minimally invasive surgery and diabetic wound care. Her extensive fellowship training at UT Southwestern in Dallas was the foundation for her passion in helping at-risk people prevent major amputations. She offers office-based surgery to prevent recurrence of diabetic foot ulcers, which reduces common postop complications associated with traditional open surgery. She opened her private practice, Pacific Point Podiatry, in Watsonville CA in 2018 and she is married to Dr. Paul Nguyen and has a daughter named Vylet.


Website: Pacific Point Podiatry

IG: @drtea_podiatry

FB: Pacific Point Podiatry, Inc.


So in your bio, you mentioned that you have the ability to have creative outlet time.

And so I want to start with that, especially because in this time where we're in the holidays and everything is so busy and we might have patients, trying to get ahold of us in mass right now because they're prepping for vacations and whatnot. I would love to hear more about how you spend your creative time.

The creative things that I think I've always craved doing something with my hands or with my mind. And so I'll a lot of my free time now has to do with crafting. And I feel like. My husband teases me.

And he's that's the old lady thing. Yes. I'm an old lady. It's fine. And I embrace it. Like I love crafting. I love working with my cricket. I love creating things, designing things, making gifts for friends. I designed t-shirts, I make the vinyl like cut it with the Cricut machine, iron it on, and then make it, sell it, whatever.

So I have the freedom to do those types of things that I never had time for before. And I think that creative outlet allows me to just unwind and relax and be in a different space. But I think ties in a lot to how I am as a physician, as a surgeon, because then I'm able to create things that perhaps I never was taught before or learned in the books.

A lot of times in surgery, I have to MacGyver my way around and how to troubleshoot a particular problem. So I think having that creative freedom really enables me to be a better surgeon.

I really love that though, because it makes me think about how on, football players will be required to sometimes do things like ballet as part of their training. And it just this idea that you are able to exercise all parts of your brain.

And then I love how you're able to also bring the skills that you have from doing things like crafting into the surgery room. I think that really makes you so flexible. And like you said, you're, MacGyvering it. Anybody who's seen MacGyver can understand exactly what that means, but everybody's body is different.

And so you have the ability to, pivot where you need to. That's fantastic.

So now I want to ask, because you have been opened since 2018, and as a specialist, where now we're seeing the creation of the drug specialty care Alliance, where we're seeing more action with regards to specialty groups on Facebook. I want to ask when you were starting out in 2018, the year that your daughter was born also your, the quote that you have on your website was I built this practice with the same attention to detail that I give to my daughter with my whole heart and soul and including that pun, which is awesome.

The statement really gets at the heart of the movement to go insurance free. So how in 2018, did you even come up with the idea of developing and creating an opening, your practice?

To be completely transparent. I opened my practice because I didn't have a choice in 2016, my husband and I came from Michigan to California to accept a job that was available for me and for him in the same community.

So I took that job as an associate and about a year and a half in, I became pregnant and I shared this with my employers. At first glance, they were excited for this new change. They were supportive. They said, it's great that you're pregnant. Just know that we support that pregnancy. And not even a month after that, my surgeries that were meant to be scheduled for patients, they were just getting canceled.

So I was really frustrated in the lack of ability to control my schedule. And I had asked why my surgeries were canceled. I just barely two months pregnant at the time two or three months. And the only thing they said was you're a little bit of a liability now, and we don't want to take care of your surgical patients in case you're not available.

So I was just flabbergasted. I felt like I got caught blindsided into this type of control. And at that point in January of 2018, I made the active decision to just create my own practice. I knew being employed just wasn't for me anymore. At the time, even though after fellowship, I had dreamed of having an academic position.

I had dreamed of being in a corporate setting. It was just something that was instilled in my education for so long. And now I have to pivot greatly because I'm introducing a child to the world that I want to be a part of. And now I have to build a practice that works for me. So I created this. Aaron honestly, thinking that I could do better.

And when I opened in 2018 in July, I did the exact same thing. My previously, my previous employer did, I got onto every insurance panel possible within the community, thinking that was the way to go. Not even a year in, I was thinking financially faster than I knew how to get myself out of, because I was waiting for pagans.

That was 90 days, late, six months late. And even today, this past week, I got a payment from an insurance company for a surgery that performed 11 months ago. And I just couldn't wrap my head around how I'm supposed to keep afloat with this mentality, with the traditional mentality of relying on insurance-based payments on top of paying for my lease, my business loan and all the equipment I needed to do my job.

So it was January, 2020, where I got really serious about finding an alternative way to practice medicine. And as a surgeon, I didn't know that was possible that a cash practice as possible, because I didn't think people would pay out of pocket for surgery. They were already struggling paying for their copays.

So it was a fight like this is the negotiation you pay your part and the insurance pays the rest. So I had it in my mind, in my limiting beliefs that patients were just not going to pay. But I think I was in a point where I really had no choice. I was not employable. I had a newborn, so I had to make it work.

I was really persistent in trying to find a way that was going to make it work just for. So I started scouting around. I spoke to other colleagues who had cash practices. One was from my podiatry school. And he had told me he was cashing the get-go right after graduation. He made it work and he shared all of the benefits that he had.

He has a hundred percent cash practice podiatrists. And I thought that is incredible. If there's one of him, there's got to be more. So I kept digging. I kept networking and more and more people came to light. And then I just, in January, 2020, I made a decision that by the end of the year, I would have at least 50% or more patients as cash payers and the remaining insurance-based.

So right now, in the end of 2021, I've met my goal more than half of my patients are cash paying for surgeries and for conservative care, And I'm starting to dwindle the remaining insurance that have just been pissing me off. So that's where I am today. I'm a hybrid with the intention of growing at least 90% cash.