2. How have your experiences prepared you for the challenges of a medical practice in an underserved area? (1900 characters)
My diverse background gives me the ethnorelative preparedness and desire to fill the gap of healthcare in areas stricken by poverty, lack of education and social inequity. Living in various countries, I identify with different healthcare systems that impact patient care and how traditional and Western medicine often conflict with one another. Most importantly, I recognize the cultural differences, socioeconomic and political elements that greatly impact inequities in ones wellbeing and access to healthcare. Within such limited resource setting, it is critical for me to maintain a positive attitude and flexibility when applying decision-making.
Eager to gain hands-on experiences, I specifically chose to work with physicians serving the low-income communities—an academic physician, internal practitioner, emergency hospitalist and a dermatologist, respectively. By spending concentrated time with each physician, I witness firsthand the demands and rewards of different medical professions. I also noted the difficulty of balancing many relationships: with patients, nurses and social workers, as well as hospital administrators and insurance carriers.
I did not anticipate that the Emergency Department has become the all-too-frequent source of basic care for poor patients. My previous interpreting experience became very helpful when it comes to connecting with the underprivileged families at the hospital who needed assistance in dealing with system complexities, such as insurance or language barrier. Emergency medicine prepared me for the fast paced yet highly rewarding profession where I get to see the results of interventions almost immediately. I learn to be spontaneous and possess the physical stamina to multitask. I learn good bedside manner and communication by emulating compassionate physicians.
My desire to interact with people and understand their background stemmed from my exposures to poverty and violence during my childhood. The years of struggle have left me with an inner strength I can rely on. The opportunity to serve the vulnerable is not only a gratifying way for me to give back, but also a chance to encourage those who identify with me. This special connection is vital towards inspiring motivation and possibility. Listening to their stories grant me the empathy and inspiration to step out of my comfort zone.
The progressive leadership and commitment for underserved areas were reinforced when I joined Biology Scholars Program. I learn effective interpersonal approaches of delivering materials in communities with limited literacy through mentoring underprivileged youths at FACES. From the homes I built for Habitat for Humanity, to the hot meals cooked for the homeless, these personal encounters gave the reverence to treat each person with dignity. And though I may be a good teacher at Sunday School, I sharpened my leadership skills while serving as vice-president of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society.
Serving the underserved community has proven to be an honorable and rewarding career that will afford me a lifetime of leadership and learning.