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I was a small, premature baby and, although my medical problems were not severe, they did involve frequent visits to hospital in my early childhood. So I became used to the environment of a hospital and observed the staff in the way that only a child can. I saw that some nurses and doctors did their job and that others did the same job but with a smile and a friendly manner, even taking the time occasionally to share a joke with a little girl. I decided very early in my life that I would like to help people by working in a hospital and that I would be one of the smiling, friendly, caring staff and not one of the others. I have never forgotten my childhood resolution at any time in my career to date.
My dream was to be a doctor but I was unable to overcome the initial obstacles to my goal. My exam results were not good enough to go to medical school which was devastating anyway but, before I had finalized plans to retake exams and re-apply, my parents told me that they could not support me through exam re-takes and medical school. They suggested that I apply for nursing school. I did so but was unhappy, I felt crushed and my initial results reflected my attitude. At a certain point, I realized that I was staring another failure in the face and that I would let myself and my family down unless something changed. I adopted a new attitude, I studied hard and enthusiastically, my scores improved dramatically, I felt much happier and my new attitude was rewarded by the award of an associate degree and an R.N. post at one of the most prestigious hospitals in South Korea.
Life moved on; I married, moved to the US, had four children, worked as a nurse and supported my husband through his Ph.D. studies. My life seemed pretty much ‘mapped out’ but then, unexpectedly, my husband and I separated. I decided to take careful stock of my life, could I resurrect my dream of being a physician? There seemed no good reason not to pursue my dream and, the more I considered the possibility, the more enthusiastic I became about the idea. Although working full time, I studied for a B.S. degree in biology at XXXX University. My GPA score was admittedly not ‘stellar’ but I graduated ‘Magna cum Laude’. I felt very proud to have succeeded when, at the same time as studying, I was working full time and taking care of my children.
I have nearly two decades of ICU nursing experience and have been successful, and to a large extent, personally fulfilled in my career to date. I have worked with many doctors who have ranged from the barely adequate to the excellent. I know that the difference is often one of attitude rather than merely differences in levels of knowledge and skill just as I had observed as a young child. It is, in my view, vitally important for physicians to care about patients as well as caring professionally for them and to seek to ‘make a difference’ rather than merely to ‘make a living’. I genuinely believe that I have the required attitude, as well as the passion and determination, to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to become an excellent physician. I have taken advice from several excellent physicians who have encouraged me to take this step.
I am extremely keen to be involved in research especially in the area of neuro critical medicine and believe that my considerable experience will enable me to make a significant contribution in doing so. My ultimate goal is to resume work as a physician in my area of experience, IC.
I know that the transition from nurse to physician will require some considerable adjustments on my part and I have carefully considered, and discussed this matter with physician colleagues. I conclude that I am fully able make those necessary adjustments and changes in professional emphasis. I am under no illusion about the amount of work and commitment that will be required of me to successfully complete the program and I undertake to apply myself fully to doing so.
I am very aware of the need for cultural sensitivity in healthcare provision. I have personal experience of living in two distinct cultures and in adjusting to the move from one to another. I have also treated, studied with and worked alongside people of many cultural and social backgrounds and enjoy doing so. I enjoy educating people about my own Korean culture and learning from others about their own.
I know that medical programs attract many, very well qualified applicants. However, I genuinely regard myself to be an excellent candidate. I am academically able, as I have recently demonstrated in the face of extreme time constraints; I am a highly experienced health professional with proven skills and knowledge in the area in which I wish to work; my long experience will enable me to ‘add value’ to my class and to add something very useful to the ‘mix’ of student types. My most important recommendation, however, is my love of, and passion for, medicine and my total determination to excel within the program.