FROM THE KILLING FIELDS OF CAMBODIA TO THE FOOTBALL FIELD & THE FIELD OF MEDICINE
Everyone has a story and for every story I have heard, I have felt inspired. We tend to judge what we see at face value but like in medicine, it's important to get a thorough, comprehensive past medical, social and family history. From growing up in North Long Beach, CA, to my father exposing me to medicine, all the way to my love for football-- all of these aspects of life have helped shape me into who I am today. Like I said in my about me, my parents' journey to America as Cambodian refugees played a vital role in my life, especially when it comes to gratitude and appreciation. I have enjoyed sharing my story as well as my father's PA journey because it inspires others and continues to inspire me to keep pushing whenever I feel like I've hit a brick wall. I enjoy writing about and sharing my passions, what interests me, what interests other people, and sharing it with the world. Medicine is and has always been such a huge aspect of my life, here's partially why I decided to pursue it.
CASPA Personal Statement
"Please explain why you are interested in being a Physician Assistant"
“Oh no, Hunro is down!”
My opponent’s flags were fully grasped in one glove as I lay on the torn up turf. My other glove was bloodstained after I assessed my chin, where the receiver’s cleats struck. It was difficult to accurately see how much blood I was losing. Presumably, it was enough not only for me to be escorted off the field but also to warrant a visit to the Riverside Community Hospital’s emergency department, where a Physician Assistant (PA) cared for my wounds.
The PA and I connected over football, and we did even more when I told him about my intention to enter the medical field, as a PA, like my father.
The feeling of watching my team play from the sidelines instead of playing with them was difficult to stomach. Thankfully, I was back on the field in time for the Championships.
Several years and a few scars later, I am more eager to get onto a field-- but this time not a football field; rather, the field of medicine. My scars and injuries parallel my path of becoming a PA. Through life’s tough obstacles, lessons and experiences, I am more motivated and driven to become a humble and resilient PA candidate.
Initially, medicine seemingly provided me the same adrenaline rush as football. Preparing for our Global Medical Brigades missions to rural Honduras was similar to preparing for a football game because it required the same thorough preparation, dedication and teamwork. As a returning volunteer with healthcare experience and conversational Spanish ability, many of my fellow volunteers turned to me for guidance and help with translation. We provided basic healthcare services to over 1,000 patients. The overall experiences were immensely rewarding and humbling. From the delicate 84-year-old grandmother to the vomiting toddler, every patient we met was grateful for the care they received at our free clinic. While I enjoyed the emotional rewards, I felt frustrated and helpless for not being able to do more clinically. It was like watching my teammates from the sideline again. My participation in these two medical missions made me more aware of the inadequate access to healthcare. That is when I realized that my initial adrenaline rush was actually a calling.
My trips to Honduras were partially inspired by the experiences that my father shared with me after his return from the medical missions to Cambodia and Haiti. He joined four missions not only as a volunteer but once as a medical director leading a team of about 100 medical volunteers, something that I also hope to do in the future. This fueled my desire to do similar work not only internationally but also locally to provide healthcare to medically underserved communities together. This healthcare access disparity and my desire to help alleviate it fuel me to get into the field of medicine much sooner because, as a medical assistant, a scribe, and a non-clinician volunteer, I feel inadequate in terms of clinical abilities. This is why I have a stronger affinity towards becoming a PA than a physician. The PA training is shorter, yet it is still reassuring that I will be trained under the same medical model as my physician colleagues. I will be able to practice medicine with competence and compassion like the PAs whom I have shadowed and worked alongside.
It is encouraging to have the opportunity to practice as a PA under the new Optimal Team Practice policy, while still being able to consult my supervising physician if necessary. I experienced a similar opportunity when I had been scribing for a pediatrician. We tried to find an association between exclusively breastfed infants and atopic dermatitis. I was tasked with seeking up-to-date research articles and knowledge as well as patient history to try and piece the puzzle together so that we could deliver a reasonable and effective treatment plan. It was exciting to be able to think critically and utilize proper tools and resources to deliver excellent patient care. Like in football, I will embrace the pressure of utilizing my skills when called upon.
My involvement in football, both as a player and youth coach, developed leadership skills, teamwork, and the ability to adapt quickly-- traits that are necessary for PAs in the healthcare team. My exposure to PAs, other providers and the health care field in general taught me the importance of collaboration and dedication. My experiences in helping diverse underserved populations have helped me become more empathetic. These enriching experiences have created a deep-seated life passion for the PA profession. Practicing collaborative, evidence-based medicine along my physician team members, I hope to sometimes cure, often treat, and always comfort my future patients. As a PA, I am determined to be not only a great clinician, but also a compassionate humanitarian.
FOR PERSONAL STATEMENT RESOURCES CHECK OUT:
MY ALMA MATERS AND PITSTOPS
Long Beach Polytechnic High School
University of California, Riverside
California State University, East Bay
Santa Barbara City College
Southern California University of Health Sciences
I am extremely thankful for the education that I received at all of my schools. I learned foundations that contribute to my pursuit of high education and medicine as a PA student. From not only the classrooms but from life experiences and campus life, I learned a lot about myself as a student, classmate and a future health professions student. The tools that I obtained and the study skills I tried and utilized are all contributing experiences to my toolkit that I will use during my didactic and clinical rotation years. The PA profession is about lifelong learning, medicine is a forever changing art with new innovations constantly. I have prepared myself to continue learning and to continue bettering myself, my colleagues, the medical community and my future patients. It took me almost 8 years after graduating from high school to be accepted into PA school, and I think each life lesson learned throughout those 8 years makes the preparation a little bit easier. Still got my straw ready to drink out of that fire hydrant though! #KnowledgeIsKey #EducationIsPower
I'm a strong believer of transparency and as some of you may know, I've come a long way! I attribute my successes to my failures and obstacles. Including my first application cycle of not receiving one interview! Without these struggles I would not have been able to re-evaluate myself and appreciate where I am today as a future PA, student and person overall. I truly believe that this whole application process and reflection humbled me. With that being said, here are my statistics for applying to PA school my 2nd time around... in which I was successful!
Age at time of CASPA submission: 26
Grades & Test Scores
CASPA Calculated Overall GPA: 3.13
CASPA Calculated Science GPA: 2.93
Last 60 cGPA: 3.85
Last 60 sGPA: 3.83
Science GPA of classes taken after 1st cycle: 3.9
GRE Score Total: 311
Verbal: 152 (56%)
Quantitative: 159 (73%)
Analytical Writing: 4.5 (82%)
Patient Care/Health Care Experience
Cardiac Electrophysiology Scribe: 700 hours
Pediatrics/Family Medicine Scribe: 1,100 hours
Orthopaedics Scribe: 900 hours
Emergency Medicine Scribe: 80 hours
Occupational Health MA/Scribe: 3,000 hours
Chiropractor Aide: 300 hours
Behavioral Interventionist: 500 hours
Muscular Dystrophy Association Camp Counselor: 600 hours
Volunteer & Community Service Hours
Youth Basketball Coach: 60 hours
Youth Flag Football Coach: 200 hours
Project, Thank You America (Co-Founder): 80 hours
UCR Water Crusade: 3 events
Internal Medicine MD
Occupational Medicine PA
Family Medicine PA
Pain Management DO
Emergency Medicine DO
Letters of Recommendation
PA (Family Medicine)
Professor/Program Director of CSU East Bay PHAP
Women's Studies Professor from UC Riverside
Schools Applied (26)
Marshall B. Ketchum University (Accepted)
Dominican University of California (Accepted)
Keck School of Medicine of USC Primary Care PA Program (Declined Interview)
Sacred Heart University (Declined Interview)
Charles Drew University (Withdrawn)
Samuel Merritt University (Withdrawn)
Touro University California MSPAS/MPH (Withdrawn)
Southern California University of Health Sciences (Withdrawn)
Methodist University (Withdrawn)
AT Still University (Withdrawn)
Arcadia University (Withdrawn)
UC Davis (Rejected)
Western University (Rejected)
Harding University (Rejected)
Northwestern University (Rejected)
Cornell University (Rejected)
Red Rocks Community College (Rejected)
MGH Institute of Health Professions (Rejected)
Jefferson College of HS (Rejected)
University of Utah (Withdrawn)
University of Washington MEDEX (Withdrawn)
Pacific University (Withdrawn)
Duke University (Withdrawn)
University of Toledo* (Withdrew accreditation application, Withdrawn)
Interviews (4): Dominican University of California, Sacred Heart University, Marshall B. Ketchum University, Keck School of Medicine of USC
Acceptance (2): Marshall B. Ketchum University, Dominican University of California
CASPA submitted: July 16th, 2017
Verified: July 17th, 2017
First Interview Invite: 8/23/2017
First Interview: 09/09/2017
First Acceptance: 10/20/2017
Last Acceptance: 1/31/2018