Medical School, Immigrant Parents, Vietnam

October 12, 2014


I wish to study medicine to obtain the skills and knowledge I require to help redistribute health as a social good on behalf of the disadvantaged.  As the child of Vietnamese parents, who arrived in the United States when I was 9 years old, I learnt the value of healthcare very early on in life. My father had been interned in a communist labor camp for eight years as punishment for his military service for the former South Vietnam. In addition to malnutrition, he suffered a stroke as result of atrial fibrillation within a week of our arrival. Thereafter he was diagnosed as medically unfit, which made it impossible for him to support the family. I have spent the balance of my life wondering how different things may have been had adequate healthcare been available in my native country, so my father could have been diagnosed earlier. As the only family member fluent in English, I soon became intimately acquainted with medical services, as I was obligated to escort him to his appointments, where I acted as an interpreter. These experiences have exerted a formative influence on my decision to become a doctor. During high school, I gravitated towards Biology and Chemistry with a view to eventually studying medicine at university. Upon completion of a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Biology, at the University of XXXX, I gained a holistic understanding of the body as the sum of its parts. I credit my chosen free electives in physiology—namely, microbial, human and exercise—for this important development. Realizing I was in need of practical experience, I volunteered in the day surgery department of the XXXX Hospital of XXXX. Here my duties included conveying discharged patients to their transportation, assisting nurses to move patients to another care unit, and answering and relaying patients' needs from the call system to nursing and PCT staff. On occasion, I was also required to directly meet patients' needs by bringing them food, drinks, and blankets. Over time, these experiences have helped me develop a familiarity with hospitals as a working environment, inclusive of its procedural and medical terminologies.

 Volunteering has also reinforced something I already intuitively understood as a person from a minority background who had to act as his father's interpreter in order for him to access medical care: the importance of diversity and inclusion. The XXXX Hospital places an especial emphasis on the challenges Latin American immigrants and migrants can face when seeking treatment, which typically include cultural barriers, language, and communication. Another reason then that I have become more confident and motivated to be a health professional is that I now regard my past as something to be proud of because I can draw on it to help me empathize with all underprivileged patients. I am therefore fully committed to nurturing the relationships I will have with my future patients by taking the time to listen to their concerns. To offer anything less, I am certain, would mean depriving them of the confidence they would otherwise be able to benefit from in all aspects of their lives. Indeed, my ideal of "holistic" healthcare presumes that health issues cannot be treated in isolation. It is equally important to instill a sense that they need not be intimidated in their interactions with healthcare professionals or any other agencies designed to cater to their needs. This greater feeling of self-worth, I have come to believe, is the key to helping underprivileged patients feel valued and hence better able to make a positive contribution to society, while enjoying longer lives enriched by better health. I therefore wish to dedicate my professional life to serving the health needs of the minority community. With this long-term goal in mind, my objective is to improve my academic credentials for medical school. I am convinced that my participation in your program will give me the thorough preparation this will require. I respectfully ask for the opportunity to benefit from your program. Thank you for considering my application.

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