Monologue: Why Medicine?
by Heidi Yuan
Context: An unfiltered and raw version of what I would say to a medical school admissions officer in response to “Why do you want to study medicine?”
So…why do I want to study medicine, you ask?
Well, why NOT medicine? You think I want to sit through another four agonizing years of school where I’m NEVER good enough to be the ONE student, the BEST student, the cream of the crop? You think I want to struggle through sleepless nights, 27-hour hospital shifts, endless exams and evaluations, just to be scolded, dehumanized, ignored, neglected, and intimidated as a resident? You think I’m here as simply another instrument for you to further your twisted political discourse on the “good” vs. “bad” immigrant and justify why we need to build some stupid wall between the US and Mexico or beat North Korea to nuclear power all to satisfy this country’s fucking lust for exceptionalist imperialism?
Heh, you think my privileged little ass knows nothing, well, let me tell you what I do know. My parents came to this country, with nothing in their bank account, one luggage case, and some stupid determination for this “American dream.” What bullshit American dream did this country give to them? Oh, yeah, I forgot about that. It gave them a job that forces them to kiss ass to their white higher ups and to endure through their daily dose of white corporate humor. Haha, very funny. Well, let me tell you what’s not so funny. The fact that our children’s history books claim that Native Americans and Pacific Islanders willingly left their land to give way to settler colonialism. The fact that we claim to be a “post-racial society” when people like Eddy Zheng and Michael Brown are wrongfully punished, discriminated against, and oppressed by the flawed perceptions of those in power. And the fact that America spends more on health care than any other fucking country in this world, yet our communities are sicker, LESS healthy, than ever.
So let me just say this – I’m not gonna be a doctor to follow in the footsteps of my parents “American dream.” I’m here to give power back to the hands of those who deserve it. Yes I’m Asian, yes I’m a woman, but I’m not just going to just sit here and pretend like I’m ok with your micro-aggressive assumptions of how docile and passive I “should” be. No fucking way. Enough of that “I’m going to save lives” bullshit. Health was never about medicine alone. When will we ever get to a point where people with power, like doctors, see beyond just what’s in front of them? The fact that structures and institutions, like the health care system, propagate injustices precisely for the patients they claim to help?
I’m no longer going to ride in complicity. Even if that means I have to leech off the power of institutions like the American health care system, then so be it. That’s my form of advocacy – for my ancestors, for my community, and for me. That’s why, medicine, and only medicine, is the career for me.