My earliest impression of medicine occurred when
my mother repeatedly required the assistance of physicians in dealing with her
chronic migraine headaches. Her doctors were always there for her, day or night.
The respect that my parents bestowed on doctors, and the doctors’ ability to
ease suffering, sparked a desire to one day become a physician myself. This was
an ambitious goal for someone coming from a family in which no one had obtained
a professional degree. However, my traditional family-oriented culture,
emphasizing doing good for others, contributed to this decision to pursue a
career in the medical field. Furthermore, the American individualistic spirit
gave me the confidence and opportunity to undertake a challenging medical
I also had the chance to gain some firsthand
experience in the medical profession when I volunteered for over a year in the
emergency room of a regional hospital. From my volunteer experience, I learned
the importance of organization and effective communication skills, and I was
exposed to the diversity that exists in my community. It has also demonstrated
to me why the American health-care system is the best in the world; I saw some
knowledgeable minds using some very sophisticated equipment. But I also saw many
ways it can be improved. For example, uninsured homeless and immigrant people
would often come in, complaining of problems they had been having for a long
time. Although we would treat these people as best we could, a health-care
system that intervenes in such sicknesses earlier would have minimized costs
associated with treating diseases in their later stages.
As a doctor, I hope to participate in these
changes in order to benefit more people than are currently being served. Doctors
should be able to serve people of all different races, ages, backgrounds, and
cultures. I intend to use my skills and unique experiences to achieve this
vision of what I think a doctor should be.
Martial arts and medicine. They seem worlds
apart, but they both have played significant roles in my life and for reasons
that are surprisingly similar. They both offer challenge, require great
discipline, and necessitate a goal-oriented approach.
I first became involved with the martial arts
when I was only 13 years old. At that time I began studying karate in my
hometown in northern California. Even then I was a goal-oriented individual who
was attracted to the step-by-step progression involved in studying karate.
Within a year I had earned a brown belt (the next-to-highest ranking) and was
actually serving as an instructor at the karate academy where I had learned the
sport. Dedication, discipline, and physical and mental prowess were behind my
success, which included being the youngest person in the area to attain the
In college I became involved in Tae Kwon Do, the
Korean counterpart of karate. This sport, too, requires patience, determination,
and a clear mind in addition to physical strength, endurance, and agility.
Within a year I had become president of my university’s 80-member Tae Kwon Do
club, which ranks among the top sports clubs on campus. In assuming this
position I began to have the opportunity to test myself as a leader as well as
One of the reasons I became interested in
medicine is that it, too, requires a meticulous, goal-oriented approach that is
very demanding. Of course, it also happens that the substance of the profession
holds strong appeal for me, both in terms of the science and the potential for
serving others who are in need.
Most of my exposure to the profession has
occurred within the areas of surgery and emergency medicine. After first serving
as an emergency medicine volunteer technician at a northern California hospital
(where I had a moving experience with a young girl’s death), I acquired the
EMT-1A/CPR certifications and then worked as an Emergency Medical Technician-1A
during a subsequent summer. This job was a fascinating, educational, and
high-pressure experience that exposed me to the realities of medicine as
practiced in crisis situations.
My extensive involvement with cardio thoracic
surgery research over the last three years, first as a volunteer technician and
currently as a staff research technician, has further fueled my desire to become
a physician. I have had to rely upon my own ingenuity and problem solving skills
as well as what I have learned in the classroom, and this has been exciting. One
of the more unusual aspects of my work has involved me directly in the procedure
of heterotopic heart transplantation in rats. This precise and technically
demanding procedure encompasses microsurgery and usually is conducted only by
residents. In fact, I am the only undergraduate student doing this procedure,
which has shown me the extent of both my manual dexterity and capacity for
learning sophisticated techniques.
I have been fortunate enough to have had the
opportunity to participate and contribute in almost every way during
experiments, from administering anesthesia and performing extensive surgical
preparations to analyzing the data obtained and operating monitoring and
recording equipment, ventilators, and the heart-lung machine.
I am a somewhat shy individual, but I have found
that within the medical environment my shyness evaporates. The opportunity to
help others one-on-one is so rewarding and comfortable for me that I feel very
much at ease, regardless of with whom I am working. I think one of the
particularly attractive aspects of medicine for me, especially within such
specialties as internal medicine and obstetrics/gynecology, is the potential for
forming close, lasting, meaningful relationships with a wide array of patients.
For me, medicine emerges as the perfect avenue
for indulging my impulses to contribute, to be involved with science, and to
establish important links with others at both critical and noncritical moments
in their lives.
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