Hai Pham, DMD
To describe the trajectory of Hai Pham’s life as “eventful” would be an understatement. What sets this Portland, OR resident apart from others is his ability to derive motivation from even the most adverse events. Hai credits his drive and will to succeed to his family. “My parents risked everything when they left Vietnam on a boat as refugees, not knowing if they were going to survive the journey. At that time, my mom was a few months pregnant with me. The journey was treacherous, but eventually we were all saved by a commercial vessel and taken to a refugee camp in Malaysia, where I was born. About a year later, we were sponsored to go to the United States.”
Hai’s family settled in Corvallis, OR where they found work and raised four children. Years later, when the time came to choose a career, Hai found himself drawn to the field of dentistry. “At an early age I always knew that I wanted to help others and give back to society. Dentistry really appealed to me because I would not only be providing care to patients, but I would also be building trust and relationships over the years with them.” As the years progressed, Hai also learned more about the autonomy dentistry provided and loved the idea of being an entrepreneur.
Following dental school, Hai applied to pediatric dental residency and matched at his alma mater, the Oregon Health and Sciences University. After overcoming the odds at such an young age through hard work and determination, Hai was now on the fast track to career success. But fate had other plans. The summer before starting residency, he was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. Incredibly, Hai, then aged 27, made the courageous decision to go through residency while battling leukemia. Looking back, he considers this his greatest accomplishment as well as his greatest life lesson. “Now that I have a second chance at life, this has helped me appreciate every day that goes by and also to live in the moment. This life event has opened up many other doors. I am now an advocate for cancer survivors, given a speech with our Governor on the importance of protecting medical coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions and recently been asked to join the Governor’s Children Cabinet.”
Besides running a successful multi-office pediatric dental practice, serving on the Oregon Board of Dentistry and engaging in philanthropic endeavors, Hai is an advocate for his patients and profession and is actively involved in organized dentistry. “Being involved with organized dentistry is very important. I have been involved with organized dentistry for the last decade and I have seen how it can shape our profession and help keep the level of patient care at the highest level possible. Here in Oregon, dentists have worked together with legislators to be pioneers in the field. At just this last legislative session, many great dental-related bills were passed- a few to help increase patient safety and the first bill to be passed in all of the 50 states that will allow dentists to provide all vaccines to patients.”
When not working or volunteering, Hai enjoys spending time with his wife Natalie, his family and pets. What inspires the man who serves as an inspiration to so many? “My family. Seeing the hard work and sacrifices they made to provide the American dream for their children has made me appreciate everything we have and keeps me going everyday. The wonderful pediatric patients and their families that come in smiling everyday keeps me going in dentistry. What drives my volunteer work is my desire to help make this world a better place for the next generation.”