» Don’t Quit Your Daydream: Post-Bacc, Part 1
  • Don’t Quit Your Daydream: Post-Bacc, Part 1

    Jun 15th • Posted in academia, personal, travel, writing

    For those of you who don’t already know, I will be attending Mills College’s post-baccalaureate pre-medical program come August. After months and months of applications, interviews, etc. I finally made it to one of the top post-bacc programs for career changers! Unfortunately, the process was tiresome and grueling– and Mills was one of the only programs in the top tier that I was accepted to (and that’s not including the letter they sent along with the acceptance email which stated that entering their program was no guarantee to get into an allopathic school.) Not that I’m really complaining, as things work out the way they’re supposed to and despite everything else… I’ve chosen a program that fulfills all my basic curricula (and then some,) provides housing and a comfortable way of life, and is small enough for me to receive individualised attention in an excellent location. But I didn’t always feel that way… In fact, the application process only further reminded me that I have a tough road ahead. And while I’m no longer accustomed to failure and rejection (except for in my love life, am I right?)– it’s something that I’ll have to keep facing on this journey to med school.

    So for those of you who were curious about my thoughts on pursuing a post-baccalaureate certificate, the application and waiting process, and my results, I am writing about it in this blog post for you to enjoy. This will be a multi-part series, starting with where I’ve been & where I’m going, and eventually I will get to the application process, what it involves, and things that I’d do over again, had I had the time/chance.

    In order to explain where I’ve been, I thought I would share my post-baccalaureate pre-medical personal statement with you all. I believe this is the final draft that I submitted in some form or another (some schools requested a shorter statement,) so please enjoy, and just know that this road was a difficult one that I chose to re-embark. It helps if you listen to the song above, and it should give an indication of how I feel about medicine.

    Damage in Tacloban City, Philippines- December 2013

    I have a confession: I wrote part of this statement on a ten hour bus journey to the Philippine province of Ilocos Sur, where I took part in a medical mission that provided quality healthcare to those who are unable to regularly receive it. The trip was a last-minute decision that took me by surprise– but I needed to take go to solidify my decision in becoming a physician. While I used to be ambivalent about this career, there have been moments in my life in which the path was clear.

    My childhood revolved around medicine in some capacity– whether I knew it or not. My physician father took my brother and me to the hospital while he went on rounds. We usually played tag around the nurses’ stations on the floor or watched television in the doctor’s lounge. As I grew older, this tradition developed into afternoons at my father’s clinic. Perhaps it was the overexposure to medicine– but I wanted little or nothing to do with the profession during my formative years. I was hellbent on becoming anything but a physician. I didn’t truly appreciate the value of medicine until I fell ill my junior year of high school. One diagnosis led to another, and by the time I was a senior in high school, Kapiolani Center (the local hospital) became my second home. Being around a wide variety of doctors as a patient forced me to examine my career choices. As a patient, I began to adapt to the various treatment styles of doctors, and realised that I want to give patients the treatment and comfort them with the compassion they deserve as a physician. I entered college with the intent of becoming a doctor.

    H.G. Wells once said, “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” As evidenced by the grades at my previous institution– I was obviously perishing under the weight of the pressure. Unfortunately, the relative culture shock, climate, and the host of health issues caused my focus to stray from my main goal of becoming a physician. I will readily admit that I did not utilize my time as wisely as I needed to and that academics fell short in my first semester of college. I jumped into classes that I was not ready for in my first semester like Calculus and Chemistry, which I will be more than willing to take all over again. I take all accountability for my grades, however, I felt stressed in an environment that I believe did not fully foster and support my academic potential. This period at my old institution was a dark time, and I gave up my attempt in health care because I was not mature enough to handle it. My focus switched to becoming a Psychology major, with the intent of entering the mental health service profession. Eventually, I decided to transfer to a different school. I realized that my old institution school was not the “right fit” for me when all of my other grades at the institutions I attended (University of Hawaii at Manoa and Oregon State University, both for summer classes– as well as my current school) had given me hard evidence that I was capable of being academically successful. Now I am at an institution that keeps me stimulated.

    My last year at DePaul has made me realize that as much as I love Psychology, my obvious passion rests in the field of healthcare. DePaul recently added a partnership with Rosalind Franklin that would allow their incoming freshman to partner up and apply directly to medical school– while I was not eligible as a transfer student, I remember hearing this news and feeling a pang of jealousy and want in my heart. After giving myself some distance from the profession and “giving up” on it, the feeling wasn’t going away. Psychology was fine, but the mention of entering a masters or Ph.D program didn’t give me the same gut-wrenching feeling in my chest that the thought of medical school does.

    Damage from Typhoon Haiyan on Bantayan Island, December 2013.

    My rocky start, along with the skills and knowledge I’ve gained throughout my undergraduate years, helped me with the work I’ve done with my fellow volunteers on our medical mission. I spent my holiday break in areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, working with physicians to treat patients who were not able to receive health care. As the daughter of immigrant Filipino parents– I am accustomed to hearing about natural disasters that happen there all the time, but the areas we visited lacked adequate food, clean water and electricity. No matter how much we prepared ourselves, the gravity of the situation did not dawn on us until we arrived at each site. The reality of these free clinics was that a month into relief efforts– the long-term diseases and ailments were just coming to light. For myself, watching these people come to the clinic to find out that their health is so far gone that giving them medication would just hurt them in the long run (therefore, watching them leave empty-handed) was one of the most heartbreaking experiences I had during the entire trip. The transformative experience was enough to cement my decision in pursuing medicine.

    The reasons why I want to become a doctor have fine-tuned themselves over the years. I want to help people and I derive fulfillment knowing I can help and make a difference in their lives. However, my work in Community Psychology allows me to see the medical profession from a unique perspective. I look at the field of medicine holistically, and I understand and am well-versed in perspectives that do not always align with the traditional model. I’ve worked with mental health practitioners, who view therapy from a psychological perspective. I’ve also worked with sociologists on their research in mental and physical health, approaching physiological symptoms from a sociological model. Most importantly, I’ve worked in a research lab that unites these viewpoints, with the entire lab under the guidance of a nurse– helping me gain appreciation for the work that they do, and ultimately wanting to improve upon the relationships between nurses, physicians, and other practitioners. I believe my obvious passion, dedication, and drive are qualities that make me an excellent applicant.

    What about you? Tell me about a dream you’ve had that you’ve tried to pursue. Tell me about your failures and if you decided to get back on the horse to try again.