The road from full-time musician to doctor may have been long for John Nuhn, M.D. ’18, but it certainly wasn’t boring.
Ever since he was a sophomore in high school, Nuhn has played upright bass in one band or another. Upon graduating, he hit the road, touring throughout the U.S. and Europe. A fulfilling adventure, but one that frequently left him broke.
“There was a period of time when I was in my car for a little bit. And there was a longer period of time when I spent nights working at a men’s homeless shelter,” Nuhn says.
At the homeless shelter, he started to get to know the men. “I saw they were facing significant challenges, and that they felt misunderstood and marginalized,” Nuhn says. Many of their stories centered on trouble getting healthcare.
Inspired to help, Nuhn returned to school to become a nurse. But while completing his undergraduate education and volunteering at Gritman Medical Center in Moscow, Idaho — the hospital where he was born — he couldn’t deny his love for diagnosis and pathophysiology. A trip to Uganda and South Sudan to work with a mobile health clinic confirmed another emerging dream: to become a doctor.
This year, Nuhn made his dream come true and graduated from the UW School of Medicine. Scholarships, including the Gritman Auxiliary Scholarship, helped a great deal. Now he’s taking the next step: a family medicine residency at Ventura County Medical Center in California. He knows that it will be intense, and that he’ll have a lot of responsibility. That’s why Ventura was his top choice.
“I’m interested in practicing overseas and in the rural Northwest, where I’m from,” says Nuhn. “There won’t be as much help in terms of other doctors and specialists around, so knowing how to handle those situations is important.”
Nuhn is good at keeping busy and handling unusual situations. Recently, he wrapped up a global health rotation in Uganda, then flew to Europe to go on tour.
“I picked up an upright bass in Munich. We had 26 gigs in Europe. Then we flew back to Seattle and the next morning, I celebrated getting matched for a residency with all my classmates,” he says.
The Music-Medicine Connection
Some people see music and medicine at opposite ends of a spectrum: one as creativity, the other as science. Others see the many ways they overlap. Nuhn falls in the latter category; it’s something he’s thought about. Both involve learning a language and gaining mastery.
“You have to individualize medicine. You have to listen well to your patients and interact with them — it’s all about the interaction,” Nuhn says. “It becomes an art.”