Thu Nguyen-Knowles will never forget the optimism and energy she felt the first time she stepped on USC’s campus as a candidate for executive director of clinical operations at USC Student Health.

“When I first came to USC’s campus, I got goosebumps,” she said.

“I immediately felt like I found my new home. I wanted to be a part of helping these students be healthy and well, so they could get to class and learn.”

That enthusiasm hasn’t waned since the married mother of two began leading all clinical operations at both the Engemann and Eric Cohen student health centers in January.

Nguyen-Knowles earned her registered nurse license at Santa Ana College, and her master’s in nursing from Walden University. She has spent more than two decades in healthcare operations, leading clinical and nonclinical teammates, patient experience, and providing ambulatory care for seniors and chronically ill patients for HealthCare Partners.


Enhanced journey for those who visit USC Student Health

As an expert in patient experience, Nguyen-Knowles is working to enhance the journey for every student who encounters USC Student Health.

“My goal is to ensure that every step of the patient experience is top of mind – from the minute a student accesses care to graduation,” she said. “I want our patients to feel that they can come to us without any barriers or challenges.”

Nguyen-Knowles has also been applying her extensive knowledge of access to healthcare to increase efficiencies in USC Student Health.

A dedicated medical advice nurse now assesses patient cases and provides medical advice via secure messaging or by phone, refill medications, and provides in-person visits to assist patients as much as possible. And a care model that engages multidisciplinary departments at every step in the patient’s journey is being employed to ensure smooth hand-off and care.

— Andrea Bennett