I spent the first years of my life on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. It was there I first came in contact with the rudimentary principles of medicine. At 9, I knew how to recognize and test for mastitis as well as give injections to the cows. I clearly remember wishing I could have done something to save a heifer that died of tetanus after an accidental incident with a pitchfork. Artificial insemination was an everyday procedure on the farm, and I loved assisting in calf deliveries. I even watched the veterinarian perform several surgeries. Such events, though ill understood at the time, were fascinating to me.
When I was 12, my family moved to Central America to do mission work. Frequently, we would help medical teams who conducted outreaches to impoverished areas. As a teen, I was the interpreter/flashlight holder. I found myself by the side of American doctors who dealt with all manner of ailments. My first chance of many to assist in a human birth came at the age of 15. From dentistry to ophthalmology, I watched the investigation and treatment processes with awe and admiration. I wanted in!
Just before I graduated from high school, I visited China for the first time. There I saw orphanages similar to those I had seen in Central America, but in these nearly all of the children suffered from some kind of disease or congenital defect. I couldn’t help wishing I knew how to help them. My desire to be a part of the cure burned stronger than ever. Three months after graduation, I moved to China to study Mandarin and pursue medical education.
Medical school in China was the biggest challenge of my life. While more than half of the international students who entered the program with me didn’t make it to graduation, I was able to complete the required courses, all taught in Chinese.
I thoroughly enjoyed my internship rotations in Beijing. When in the outpatient clinic I assisted my instructors in doing up to 50 consultations per day. Around the histories, physical exams, biopsies and ABG’s in the wards, I loved getting to know my patients. I helped explain the details of their particular situations, hoping I could ease the worries of the frequent anxious farmer or factory worker who had come to the big city for the first time to seek medical care. I learned that whether the diagnosis is devastating or inconsequential a compassionate doctor can effectively inspire hope and acceptance.
After my graduation and 1 year of graduate training, the advent of motherhood forced me to step back from full-time practice. However, I have continued to volunteer medically for outreach programs, as well as orphanages and nursing homes. At home, I use the spare minutes when I am not caring for my 5 children to read articles and participate in CME activities.
Ten years out of school, my passion for medicine is greater than ever. My husband is fully supportive, and my children more independent. With the hurdle of ECFMG certification behind me, I am anxious to conquer the even greater challenge of becoming trained and licensed as a physician.
I envision myself continuing to work in underserved areas in the future, knowing that at times I may be the only care option for some. I want to be able to deliver modern and skilled care that will mean everything for these. The path I have taken is unconventional but rich in diversity of experience. I am excited to learn more and to use all I have gathered on my journey thus far to impact individual lives through respectful and compassionate excellence wherever I am, throughout training and beyond.