PharmD Admission, Vietnamese Applicant

December 15, 2013

I was born in Vietnam and left there as a refugee with my family at the age of three. We lived in a refugee camp in Thailand for over two years and moved to the United States when I was six years old. Medical care, food and clean water were fairly restricted in the camp. However we did have the services of a pharmacist. Though very young, I was aware that this person gave people things that made sick people healthy once again. To my childish mind, this appeared to be some kind of magic and I decided that I should like to give sick people ‘magic’ medicine one day.

 Soon after arriving in the US, my parents started their small catering business. They worked about 70 hours a week each and I was expected to help as soon as I was able. When in my mid-teens, the child of a family that we knew had started a pharmacy program and her family was immensely proud. I recalled my childish interest in pharmacy and, wanting my parents to be proud of me too, I decided to make this my goal. I was the first person in my family to go to college however, I had little idea of what to expect and was not prepared for the academic rigors of the program and faced various personal problems during it. Consequently my grades were not good enough to apply to pharmacy school. I felt ashamed that I had let my family down and was in tears at my graduation ceremony.  

 This shame fired in me a determination to make my parents proud. One of my friends introduced me to a non-profit organization called SAP-VN (Social Assistance Program for Vietnam).  I was initially involved in events to raise funds to build schools in Vietnam and to finance medical teams who provide basic health care and carry out orthopedic operations on children but my interest and involvement increased. I have now been to Vietnam three times with the mobile health care mission and this has changed my whole outlook on life.

 One day I saw a thin little girl in a torn and dirty top staring intently at everything going on in the pharmacy room that we had set up. I knew that I would have been that little girl if my parents had not taken the risks involved in escaping Vietnam and I became vividly aware of the weight of responsibility to make the very most of the opportunities that I was fortunate enough to have been given.

 Armed with fresh determination and sense of direction and with the encouragement of pharmacists working with the SAP-VN, I returned to school to retake classes in chemistry and biology and took a job as a pharmacy technician in a retail pharmacy. I now have substantial experience of retail pharmacy. I have carried out the whole range of technical duties that I am qualified for. I am also familiar with handling insurance claims, learnt about common drug interactions and working in an effective team.  I have also learned a great deal about the patients, their problems and the vital importance of their medication to them. The cost of medications represents a substantial proportion of some elderly patients’ incomes indeed some say that they wonder whether they are worth the cost! It hurts to see people who have worked all their lives but struggle to pay for the means to keep them alive.

 It is my ultimate goal to be involved in medication therapy management in order to help patients obtain the optimum benefits from their medications and by identifying, resolving and preventing medication related problems. I also hope to apply my knowledge to help patients save money by suggesting cheaper effective alternatives to them. I am especially interested in assisting in research in the area of customized drugs based on the patient’s DNA.

 I am aware of the vital importance of cultural awareness and sensitivity, especially in health care. I have happily studied, worked and socialized with people of many cultural and social backgrounds. I look forward to extending this experience of other cultures and sharing my own with my colleagues in the program.

 I am aware that pharmacy programs are very competitive and attract many well qualified applicants. However, I do consider myself to be a very good candidate. I have now matured, am fully focused on my objective and have learnt the necessary lessons from my earlier academic career. I also have substantial and highly relevant experience as a pharmacy technician.  If selected, I undertake to apply myself fully to excelling within the program.

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