My Journey to Medical School

Photoshoot for Residency Applications. PC: LP Photography

Have you ever felt like God was calling you told a specific path but you didn’t know how you were going to get there?

This was me. When I was in middle school, I felt God calling me to become a doctor. A missionary doctor who traveled to places where they didn’t have quality health care. That was back in the late 1990s.

In my head, I imagined myself graduating from medical school by the time I was thirty. Boy, was I wrong! My timing is NOT the same as my Creator’s. His timing is perfect and He really has my best in mind. I can’t begin to explain how difficult this journey has been but I want to say thank you to everyone who has prayed and encouraged me on this incredible journey. I am forever grateful for all the love and support that I’ve been shown and continue to be shown.

I wanted to share some of my journey with you as a testimony of who God has been in my life and how faithful He is when you obey and serve Him.

During my time at UC Davis, I became super involved with the campus ministry, Davis Christian Fellowship, a Chi Alpha ministry. We attend a student conference every January (sometimes called SALT conference). The speaker, Char Blair, spoke about disappointment and expectations. She had a touch word from God concerning surrender. I felt God asking me if He never did anything else for me, would I still serve Him? If He told me to stop trying to become a doctor, would I do it? Would I obey? Would I surrender the dream that He put in my heart? Would He alone be enough? There were definitely tears shed but I came away from that conference knowing that I would always choose God and His will over my will. Even when it hurts.

After graduating from UC Davis in June 2010, I took a full time job working as the office coordinator for an Autism research study. While I worked on campus, I also volunteered at a local Christian organization on campus. That fall (of 2010) we had a people from theCall come and encourage us. They invited us to a student call to pray and fast in November. A bunch of us traveled to Southern California to attend the student call rally. During the rally, some people were challenged to take up the call to do a Daniel fast for the next year to pray for the nations. A Daniel fast is from Daniel 1 where Daniel only ate vegetables and drank water. In more modern times, a “Daniel fast” can mean a multitude of things but for me, I felt God calling me to give up meat and sugar (additive).

I don’t know about you, but if you’ve ever tried to do a partial fast, it’s worse than doing an absolute fast. Avoiding all food is easier than avoiding only certain foods, especially if you’ve grown up eating meat your entire life. I ate a lot of tofu and eggs and soy. But I also found a new love for vegetables! Food tasted different to me and I enjoyed it even more with vegetables. I would do a Daniel fast for all of 2011. (I did give myself some leeway when it came to sweets during special occasions since I wanted to celebrate with whoever was celebrating, but even then, sugary foods tasted different).

When January rolled around again, we went to another student conference. During that conference, I felt like I needed some time to journal. When I journal with God, I write down everything I’m thinking and everything I’m hearing God speak to me. In the middle of writing down my thoughts (which had nothing to do with what the conference speaker had been speaking — can’t even remember that topic), I heard God speaking to me about his daughters: “Who’s going to teach my daughters how to laugh and dance again?” Who’s going to be His hands and feet for the girls who have been and are being abused?

I was in shock. What did this have to do with me? I am only one person. I am only me. As much as I knew I was called to be a missionary, I always felt so overwhelmed by the issue of human trafficking. I sat on His words for a few weeks. I didn’t know how to respond or what I could do. I was headed toward medical school. I had already put my application in but hadn’t heard anything yet. I looked up some possible organizations I had heard about that dealt with human trafficking, specifically Project Rescue. While reading their website, I learned that part of what they provide is medical care. That was my answer! I wanted to be a missionary doctor but maybe God was focusing my ministry to include medical care for those being trafficked and/or rescued from trafficking. That answer seemed to fit in nicely with the career path I had chosen.

However, God was not finished speaking yet. The campus ministry had a guest speaker who worked with Project Rescue overseas. She talked about how she wanted to start a new home for girls being rescued and needed 10 people to partner with her for the next 1-2 years. She also was open to having summer interns help her. When I heard the call, I immediately was drawn to the summer internship because I had to be preparing for medical school. I couldn’t be gone overseas for 1-2 years. That didn’t make any sense. Although it happens, most medical schools won’t do interviews over Skype. Living overseas for 1-2 years seemed like an impossibility.

The other issue with leaving was my MCAT. The MCAT is the medical college admissions test that everyone applying to medical school must take. The test is long (at that time 4-5 hours) and expensive (at that time ~$200). I had taken the MCAT in July 2009 and gotten a decent score (at least for D.O. schools which I was mostly applying to). MCAT scores are only good for 3 years max. Some schools say 2 years max. The clock was ticking on my MCAT score, and I couldn’t afford to lose another year of applying. God wouldn’t ask me to give that up too, right?

A few more weeks later, the campus ministry was having our normal weekly meeting but at the end, we had a response time. We had a wooden cross set up in the back of the room and students were to write down their sins on a piece of paper and nail it to the cross. While I prayed in my seat asking God what I needed to nail to the cross, I heard Him speak to my heart, “Bitterness and disappointment.” After symbolically and literally nailing bitterness and disappointment to the cross, I went back to my seat to pray. I once again started having this conversation with God that basically kept bringing back up my MCAT score. My MCAT score is going to expire! I will have to retake the MCAT. If I obey you and volunteer with Project Rescue for an entire year, I’m losing a couple years of applying. (When you apply for medical school in June, you are actually applying for entrance next fall –> the application cycle takes over a year). I wrestled with God over my MCAT score and my intense desire to not have to retake the MCAT.

Then I heard Him speaking, “If you give me a year, I’ll take care of the rest.” Tears. Sobbing. But a gentle surrender and PEACE. Of course, my friend playing guitar in the background started playing “Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus”. Hah. Of course! How could I not say YES to my Savior? To the One who has given everything just to be with me? To the One who can move mountains and cause chains to break? I have learned to ALWAYS SAY YES TO JESUS. Always. The Maker of Heaven and Earth knows you better than you know yourself. He formed you in your mother’s womb. He knit you together. He has a plan and destiny over your life. Even as I left that meeting, Rita Springer’s song, “Worth It All”, was playing in my heart:

I don’t understand your ways
Oh, but I will give you my song
Give you all of my praise
You hold on to all my pain
With it you are pulling me closer
And pulling me into your ways

Now, around every corner
And up every mountain
I’m not looking for crowns
Or the water from fountains

I’m desperate in seeking frantic believing
That the sight of your face
Is all that I needed
I will say to you

It’s gonna be worth it
Gonna be worth it
It’s gonna be worth it all
I believe this
It’s gonna be worth it
It’s gonna be worth it
It’s gonna be worth it all

Little did I know who much I would need His words to keep me on the path.

To Be Continued…