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Medical School, Korean ICU Nurse, Older Applicant

Updated: Jan 26

I was a tiny, premature baby, and although my medical problems were not severe, they involved frequent hospital visits in my early childhood. So I became used to the hospital environment and observed the staff in the way only a child can. I saw that some nurses and doctors did their job, and others did the same job but with a smile and a friendly manner, even occasionally taking the time 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 a smiling, friendly, caring staff person and not one of the others. I have never forgotten my childhood resolution at any time in my career.

My dream was to be a doctor, but I could not overcome the initial obstacles to my goal. My exam results were not good enough for medical school, which was devastating. Still, before I had finalized plans to retake exams and re-apply, my parents told me 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 I was staring another failure in the face and would let myself and my family down unless something changed. I adopted a new attitude; I studied hard and enthusiastically, improved my scores, and felt much happier. My unique perspective 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 unexpectedly, my husband and I separated. I decided to take careful stock of my life. Could I resurrect my dream of becoming 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, while 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. I have worked with many doctors who have ranged from barely adequate to 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 care professionally for them and to seek to 'make a difference' rather than merely to 'make a living'. I genuinely believe that I have the necessary attitude, as well as the passion and determination, to acquire the knowledge and skills required to become an excellent physician. I have advised several exceptional physicians who have encouraged me to take this step.

I am incredibly keen to be involved in research, especially in the area of neurocritical medicine, and I believe that my considerable experience will enable me to make a significant contribution in doing so. My ultimate goal is to resume working as a physician in my area of expertise, IC.

I know that the transition from nurse to physician will require considerable adjustments, and I have carefully considered and discussed this matter with physician colleagues. I conclude that I am fully able to make those necessary adjustments and changes in professional emphasis. I am under no illusion about the amount of work and commitment required to 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 living in two distinct cultures and adjusting to moving 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 extensive experience will enable me to 'add value' to my class and to add something beneficial to the ‘mix’ of student-types. My most important recommendation, however, is my love and passion for medicine and my determination to excel in the program.

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