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Jul 28, 2020
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  1. Pre-Medical
When I was 10 years old, I had a keloid, about the size of a fingertip, underneath my tongue, which was irrefutably uncomfortable and periodically painful. My parents told me that I needed surgery, during which surgeons would excise my keloid. I distinctly remember facing the fear that it would hurt so bad to have my tissue cut off, as I did not know what anesthesia was. The fear followed me up to the moment I was laying on the surgical table. Then a clear and round mask with a white tube connected to it was strapped around my head. The next thing I know was waking up to someone pushing me back to my room on a bed with rolling wheels. Once the sedation wore off, my parents told me the surgery lasted about three hours. During which I did not feel any sensation of anyone or anything cutting me! That was when I first learned about “the art” of anesthesia, as my parents were describing it to me in colloquial language. I was fascinated and intrigued by the mechanism of how sedation and anesthetic drugs work and that was how I started my long journey in pursuit of a career in anesthesia.

When I turned 16 years old, I decided to leave Vietnam, my homeland, to pursue higher education in the United States. Moving to a different continent by myself entailed many difficulties such as cultured shock, language barrier, homesickness, and being far from my support network. Moreover, I am also a first-generation college student in my family. Many difficulties of being first-generation that major in pre-professional healthcare include the fact that I did not get the college readiness from my parents, financial challenges, racial disparity, and how challenging the courses were. However, I did not get deterred and tried to stay motivated.

During my years as an undergraduate student, I had the chance to become a member of the Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine. This organization focuses on one of the most cutting-edge fields of medicine, which is building genomics and bioinformatic analysis infrastructure and conducting human genetics research, to help physicians prescribe more personalized treatments based on patients’ genomes. My mentor is Dr. Qing Wu, with whom I, and two other graduate students, conducted meta-analysis research on the association between inflammatory biomarkers and osteoporotic fracture risks in different populations and ethnicities, which is in the process of getting published in Osteoporosis International Journal.

It was also during college, for a year, that I lived with my grandmother, who is an immigrant. She has diabetes and arthritis. I took her to many doctor appointments and translated her descriptions of symptoms from Vietnamese to English to her doctors and then translated the doctor’s diagnosis back to Vietnamese to my grandmother. Being involved in and witnessing this process makes me wonder if I was not here to translate for my grandmother. What if other elders, who do not speak English, have no one to translate for them at the hospital? What if that would be the reason why their illness gets overlooked and gets worse? What if they have to suffer pain from the diseases that they cannot deliver by words to their physicians? All of these thoughts to self urge and motivate me to excel in my academic courses, research, extracurricular activities, and enhance my knowledge to become a physician who could provide adequate healthcare to all, especially the elders and minorities. I believe having more physicians with diverse backgrounds creates a more welcoming and safe ground for immigrants in hospitals.

As I researched more about the anesthesiologist assistant programs, I acknowledged that it is a challenging and rigorous curriculum, which requires a sacrifice of many resources. I am willing to make those sacrifices for my vehement passion of becoming a physician in anesthesia. I believe that I could be a reliable team player as an anesthesiologist assistant while working in coordination with other anesthesiologists, CRNAs, nurses and surgeons, etc. The path to become a good physician is the one that I am more eager to pursue than any other, and it is the path that I am most prepared to commit myself to no matter what it may require.
 
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