For University of Michigan Medical School alumna Natacha Chough, M.D. (2010), caring for astronauts and their families is a privilege. The highly specialized field of aerospace medicine demands rigorous training and passion. For Dr. Chough, this field combines her two loves: space and biology. From the moment she learned about it during a college internship at NASA, she was hooked. In addition to her medical degree, Dr. Chough served two years in the Peace Corps, completed a residency in emergency medicine and earned a master’s degree in public health during her two-year residency in aerospace medicine. Here she talks about how her time at Michigan helped her reach for the stars — and find the career of her dreams.
“When I interviewed at Michigan, I felt like everything about it was big: Big Ten, Big House, big reputation, big enthusiasm, big size of our class. For me, that meant big opportunity, big amounts of diversity, and the chance to dream BIG! I felt like UMMS was really interested in my personal interests and what I could bring to the school, as well as what I could become after being a part of such a special family.
The Emergency Medicine & Wilderness Medicine Student Interest Groups were great for helping me get footing and experience in those fields for residency and beyond. I really appreciated the flexibility of our fourth-year schedule that allowed me to schedule electives at NASA. The Emergency Medicine department faculty and staff, and my Transplant Surgery mentors, all supported me and wrote great recommendation letters for my Emergency Med residency at Stanford, which in turn gave me great training for my aerospace medicine residency at NASA.
One of my favorite memories as a student is, obviously, The Smoker! Also, whenever I think about my time in Ann Arbor, three things come to mind: Big House football, Zingerman’s, and what a blast I had in medical school.
Michigan’s reputation speaks for itself. I didn’t believe this until it happened to me, but staff will approach you at your residency interviews and pull you aside to chat one-on-one because they really do see the “Michigan Difference” and want you in their program.
“I am totally living my dream job as a flight surgeon (the physician who cares for astronauts) at NASA. I will be deploying to Star City, Russia for astronaut medical support later this year, and working in Mission Control to support my first International Space Station mission next May.