Early on as an undergraduate pre-med student at the University of Michigan, she came to the conclusion that she wanted to study science or health. She tried her hand as a research assistant and also logged some experience at a local pharmacy, but she found it was the field of medicine that kept drawing her back.
“I really can’t see myself doing anything else. I like the patient-doctor interaction and working with people. I like helping people figure out the problem and the plan of action to take to make the person feel better,” said Chen.
Her first year at New York Medical College in Westchester has been filled with endless reading assignments from medical journals, information-overloaded tests, and even cadaver dissections.
“I think you just have to really want it because it takes a lot of dedication. You have to study for eight hours a day,” she said. “That’s a normal life for a medical student.”
Chen realizes she’ll be nearly 30 by the time she finishes med school and residency, but she considers it a small price to pay for something she really wants to do.
“You have to be willing to make the sacrifices. You’re pretty much putting your life on hold - your friends, your relationships - your books come first,” she said.
Not that she doesn’t know how to have fun. To keep herself sane during the semester, she goes to dinners and movies with friends and even gets to eat home-cooked meals that her parents frequently bring when they visit from Queens.
But come summertime, she will be working at the Westchester Children’s Hospital.
“I know I’m giving up my summer, but if I commit myself to this field, pediatrics, I want to make sure I’ll be happy,” said Chen. She added, “I want to have my own practice somewhere down the line.”