Hometown: San Diego, CA
Undergraduate: University of California, Los Angeles, BS in Physiological Sciences
Medical School: Drexel University College of Medicine Class of 2019
Can you tell me a little about yourself before you came to Drexel?
I am a first generation Vietnamese-American. My parents immigrated to the United States after the Vietnam war. I was raised in a multi-ethnic community where I was exposed to many different cultures and languages. Growing up, my mom taught me how to play the piano and my sister got me into hip-hop dancing in high school. At UCLA, I majored in physiology and minored in biomedical research and education studies. I worked as a clinical research coordinator in Santa Monica during my gap year before coming to Drexel.
When did you know that you wanted to become a doctor?
It was around the end of my junior year at UCLA that I decided I wanted to become a doctor. Although I always enjoyed learning math and science, I honestly did not think that I was smart enough to become a doctor. In addition, being at an institution like UCLA where there was a huge premed student population was very intimidating and, at times, made me feel inferior to my peers. After joining various health organizations, volunteering in the hospital and doing research, I decided that medicine was the path I wanted to pursue.
Do you know what kind of medicine you'd like to specialize in?
I will be applying towards anesthesiology!
Why did you apply to Drexel's medical school?
When I was applying to medical school, I knew that I wanted to be in a major city and at an institution that has strong ties to service with their community. At UCLA, almost every organization that I was a part of had some component of teaching and service to underserved and disadvantaged populations. I wanted to continue that in medical school and felt that Drexel would provide those opportunities based on what I read on the website.
How has the program been going so far?
Each year of medical school brings about its own challenges. At the same time, it has been a very humbling and rewarding experience. The sheer volume of material that you learn during medical school is absolutely mind-boggling, and the phrase “it's like drinking water from a fire hose” is a pretty accurate description of what it feels like to study for exams. Nonetheless, medical school flashes by in a blink of an eye. Now that I am done with my residency application, it has definitely been much less stressful!
What is your relationship like with the faculty?
It has been great. The faculty at Drexel genuinely care about student learning and well-being. Our deans of Student Affairs are exceptional and really look out for our students. During our fourth year of medical school, we are assigned to one of the deans in addition to our pathway advisor to provide an extra layer of advising and support as we apply for residency.
What is your relationship like with your fellow classmates?
I have a great relationship with my classmates. Being in a class of 260 students makes it easy to find a group of friends that you can relax and have fun with. Our student government also prepares many fun events throughout the school year like Winter Formal and the Dean's Cup, so there are always opportunities to take a break from studying. I have a very close group of friends in medical school and it has made a huge difference for me, especially since my family and friends are in California. In addition, the relationship amongst students is definitely very supportive and non-competitive. I had multiple study groups throughout my preclinical years and it really made a difference in solidifying the material that I learned.
What have your clinical rotations been like?
I would definitely say surgery and OB/GYN were the most challenging rotations for me, but I love being in the operating room. I also really enjoyed my family medicine and pediatrics rotations. You transition from reading notes and reviewing PowerPoint presentations to having a patient in front of you that needs your help. In my opinion, the learning is less structured and requires you to take initiative in order to get the most out of your clinical rotation. It also puts you into a different environment compared to your first two years of medical school and forces you to apply the knowledge that you learned. Additionally, it feels amazing as a medical student whenever you are able to correctly diagnose a patient, guide management and perform procedures.
Are you involved in any extracurricular activities, such as volunteering or clubs?
I started the hip-hop dance club and powerlifting club during my first year and continued that throughout my second year of medical school. I was also elected into the honor court during my first year and am currently serving my fourth year on the honor court as President. I also volunteered with the Health Outreach Project (HOP) throughout my pre-clinical years and served as a mind-body coordinator during my second year of medical school.
Did you work on any special projects or research while in medical school?
I conducted research in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at Hahnemann University Hospital during the summer after my first year of medical school.
How is living in Philadelphia?
Experiencing winter was certainly a challenge for me coming from California! But I really enjoy living in Philadelphia. There are always so many fun events going on in the city, great places to eat, and a lot of concerts and music events. Whenever I need a change in scenery, I just hop on the bus and visit friends Washington, D.C. or New York.
What advice do you have for someone who is considering coming to Drexel for medical school?
Medical school will undoubtedly be challenging, stressful and time consuming. However, it is important to not forget the hobbies and activities that you enjoyed and even talked about during your interviews. It is very important to take care of your mind and body, as medical school will push you to your limits. My biggest stress reliever in medical school was powerlifting. Regardless of whether I was studying for boards or waking up at 4:30 a.m. on my surgery rotation, I never missed a single day of working out because I knew that it would help me de-stress and be more productive afterwards. Lastly, take advantage of the free time you have in between exams to explore the city, go out with friends and have fun!