The Path You’re Meant to Take in Life

Farrah Fong Medical Student

Farrah Fong
Medical Student

This is the first place student winner in the 2015 STFM Blog Competition

Sometimes, it’s difficult to recall that single defining moment or person that sends you on the path you’re meant to take in life. I was fortunate in that I found that experience halfway through my undergraduate career at University of California, Davis. I had recently lost my grandmother—although I’d wanted to help, all I’d been able to do at the hospital was translate for her. That overwhelming sense of helplessness I felt due to my lack of medical knowledge fueled my desire to help and serve others as a physician. Since I needed to find someplace to start, I applied to become a patient advocate and medical interpreter for Paul Hom Asian Clinic, a student-run clinic that provides free health care to a predominantly uninsured, Cantonese-speaking population.

Staffed entirely by volunteers, we would convene each Saturday to provide primary care services to the Sacramento community. By dispelling the language barrier, I was able to convey each patient’s concerns and health issues to a physician. Being able to build relationships with patients across all ages was, and still is, one of the factors I loved most about family medicine. I knew that truly caring, listening, and paying attention to the little details made a world of a difference in our patients’ care… but as the “Partnering With Patients, Families, and Communities” article suggested, that’s really only the beginning. There is much more work that needs to be done. Volunteering at the clinic strengthened my interest in family medicine, whilst also opening my eyes to the numerous difficulties that many individuals in our country still face in obtaining the health care that they need.

Paul Hom Asian Clinic provided me with an invaluable community outreach opportunity that allowed me to learn, give back, and most importantly, to help the patients we served. Advocating for our patients’ needs and helping them to help themselves through preventative care and patient education can go a very long way, and by playing the role of the family physician, we were able to accompany them through every step. Aside from tending to their acute and chronic health issues, we also assisted them with obtaining imaging studies and referrals to specialists, as well as with filling out the necessary paperwork for the patient assistance program so that they would be able to afford their medications.  Each year, our clinic would put together a free health fair where we would offer health screenings and vaccines, and give presentations on different health topics pertinent to our clinic’s patient population.

When I moved across the country for graduate school, I (quite unfortunately) couldn’t feasibly continue volunteering regularly at the clinic, so instead, I did my research on the training provided to medical students and family medicine residents in working with individuals with developmental disabilities, and volunteered as an interpreter for the affiliated medical school’s health fair. My experiences volunteering at Paul Hom Asian Clinic are what served as the catalyst that first sparked my interest in family medicine, and I applied to medical school with the intent of going into family medicine so that I could continue working with under-served populations.

It has been 7 1/2 years since I first stepped foot into that clinic. I am now in my last year of medical school, in the midst of audition rotations and residency interviews, and my love for family medicine has not changed in the slightest—I still cannot imagine another specialty that I would enjoy more. I love the variety in each day, the ability to provide continuity of care, as well as the emphasis on preventative care found in family medicine, and I really hope to continue sharing that passion through working with community outreach programs to provide better care to under-served populations in the years to come.

To me, family medicine holds a world of opportunities and possibilities to explore. Within it, there is a niche for everyone, and if we all work together to promote patient education and understanding, and advocate for community health education and outreach, we will truly be able to make a difference in our patients’ lives.

85 responses to “The Path You’re Meant to Take in Life

  1. Farrah is a great friend and inspiration. We met in Lewisburg at church and this is the first time I’ve heard the inspirational journey that lead Farrah to where she is today. We will continue to keep you in our prayers as you finish your program!

  2. very good point.

  3. Great

  4. I think her compassionate spirit will show through with the patients she serves. The compassionate spirit among the staff and physicians in the hospitals will help the patients know that they genuinely care about their quality of life and want to make sure they are living the best life possible.

  5. Excellent! Hope Farrah every success in her carreer in future!

  6. An energetic young lady with great love. She has got the right path, on one hand to enrich experience, widen knowledge and on the other hand to render necessary assistance to those in need.

  7. So inspiring! Glad you stuck through with it. The world needs more people like you. Keep up the great work =)

  8. A great read. Inspirational. Good luck to you and your future.

  9. An energetic young lady with great love. She has got the right path, on one hand to enrich experience, widen knowledge and, on the other hand to render necessary assistance to those in need.

  10. Nancy boksberger

    Farrah ,
    Very good . I am glad you do well and good thinking.
    You care a lot for other people too.
    Besides that your smile and kindness warm the hearts of the people around you.
    You will be a very good Doctor.
    I am proud of you.

  11. Though I’ve yet to meet Farrah face to face, we have been buddies through keeping in contact via text and email/messaging for over a year now. Her passion for life helping others live their lives to the fullest is extraordinary. You’re going to go far, Farrah!

  12. It is so nice to see that you found the passion that fits perfectly in your life. I know it has always been your dream to serve and help people in need. This eassay is inspiring and touching . I can feel your passion for Family Medicine through your article. May you, with God’s help, able to use your knowledge to keep everyone healthy, your love to touch everyone’s heart and your ability to make this world even more beautiful ! Thank God for guiding you all the way! God bless everyone!

    • I really, really wish I had the words to adequately express how thankful and appreciative I am to you for your never-ending love and support since the day that I was born–I never would’ve made it this far without you and Daddy Fong! Medical school was definitely tough, but honestly, the most difficult part was not being able to be at home to help out. I think in the end, things will work themselves out and it’ll all be worth it! Much love forever! ❤

  13. A very touching and inspirational article. I really admire this young lady’s passion, love and care for what she referred the “under-severed populations”, which may include the poor, the disabilities, and the new immigrants, etc.

  14. Congrats on journey and the adventure ahead of you.

  15. I am very proud of you I remember the first time you came into my hospital room and though we only knew each other for a couple of days you helped me so much in my recovery and I wish you all the best and congratulations you are a wonderful person

    • Oh Sandra, thank you so much for your kind words! ❤ I think of you often, and still have the card you wrote to me. I really hope things have been getting better since your move-I've been keeping you in my prayers!

  16. Thank you, Farrah for sharing your personal story and inspirational journey. You really have a big heart for a vey small small community that is in desperate need of your services. Most ordinary people follow money when choosing their careers, you choose to follow your dream Keep up with the great work!

    • Thank you so much–I’ll definitely do my best! I don’t require much to live, so I’d much rather spend my life doing something that I loved instead! :]

  17. This soon-to-be doc is truly inspirational. Her story profoundly reveals her the motivation of her passion for the medical science and practice, and most of all, her love toward humanity. Way to go!

  18. Your path to family care practice is like a marathon. Only someone with passion, energy and perseverance can finish the race. I find that your genuine heart to help the under-served population is very touching. To me, great love to patient is a critical prerequisite to become a competent MD. Well done!

    • Thank you so much for all your love and support over the years! I like to think that the hard work and perseverance is what’s gotten me through so far, and I definitely hope it continues! :]

  19. Thank your for sharing your experiences and your thoughts. From the article, I feel that you are a really kind person who contrbutes the time and effort to help people. I believe it will make a huge difference in our community if more people can see your article and behavior like you.

  20. Being dedicated and caring, you are most suited to the community medical service. You are about to embark on. Your love for family medicine will continue to help you develop your future career to benefit needy patients.

    • Thank you so much! I’m definitely happiest when I get to work with people within the community, so I’m glad I managed to find that niche early on! :] Miss you lots and hope you’re doing well!

  21. The medical profession is lucky to have Farrah. The caring heart and genuine desire she has for this specialty is a big plus for those who she will serve as patients, as well as those she will work with.

  22. Great

  23. Language barrier has always been an issue for immigrants especially the seniors. Though interpretation can help but could not compare with direct communication. Farrah, your Christian spirit of medical service and your bilingual ability will be a great value to that Cantonese community. God bless you.

  24. so awesome – keep up the good work ♥

  25. Hard work pays…but having a winning personality and compassion is what makes you so special..

    • Thanks so much for all your love and support over the years, even though I’ve been across the country for most of them! I’m so thankful to have met you, and so lucky to have you in my life! :]

  26. Working with you at Paul Hom Asian Clinic was fulfilling, we worked hard together! Best of luck to all your future endeavors.

    • The days were long, but definitely so, so rewarding and fulfilling! I miss our patients from there! 😛 Thanks so much, and I hope things have been going well for you! ❤

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  28. Good job Farrah. I love your passion for your patient. It’s most important for a doctor to have such passion. Wishing your every success in your path to practice.

  29. This world needs physicians like Farrah who has love for her patients. I knew you since you were very young. I believe you are the kind of doctor who will make a difference in the patient’s life.

  30. Farrah is an amazing girl full of compassion and desire to care for her patients on many different levels. I loved reading this and hearing what inspired her to pursue a lifetime of helping others in the medical field.

  31. Such a remarkable journey! It’s amazing how breaking that language barrier helped so much. I know Farrah will be a great family doctor!

    • Thanks so much, Julie! I’ve actually had a couple Mandarin-speaking patients in my past couple rotations! It’s definitely not my native language but I can kindasorta get by, and I think they really appreciated my efforts! 😀 I gotta brush up on that again!

  32. this article is touching and inspiratinal

  33. A truly touching and inspiring story about a doctor’s journey. I am glad our world is filled with compassionate and inspiring doctors like yourself. Best wishes to your journey of success!

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  35. Farah is such an inspiration with a caring heart and beautiful soul! She is the kind of doctor any patient would be lucky to have!

  36. Congratulations on the courage on pursue your dreams!
    Your story shows that every big dream starts with the first small step. You started by volunteering at a clinic and look at you now! You will be an awesome doctor!

  37. Farrah is an amazing person that I’m so lucky to have connected with. I know she’ll be a WONDERFUL, knowledgeable, compassionate doctor.

  38. Albert Job Bautista

    Farrah is definitely a rarity in this world. Amongst all the gems in this earth she shimmers the brightest. I am but honoured to have her presence in my life.

  39. You are amazing and will make an excellent doctor! Loved reading the path youve chosen

  40. You will make a great doctor Farrah, you will have patients lined up out the door for you! Good luck!

  41. Very nice, thanks!

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  43. So encouraging and inspiring…. you are doing more than your part and your compassion will shine through and make you such a wonderful and caring doctor!

  44. Hope you achieve all your goals and dreams. This was a very inspirational article, and I believe you’ll become a wonderful doctor!

  45. The “niche for everyone” idea is such a great way to describe why family medicine is so inspiring, and the perfect path for so many of us!

  46. Pingback: From Volunteer to Family Physician » in-House, the online magazine for residents and fellows

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