Eric Li from Asian Pacific Medical Association
The next spotlight in the #HumansofGUSOM series is on the co-president of the Asian Pacific Medical Association (APAMSA), Eric Li.
After a cancer scare in high school and noticing how a doctor’s role “was so much more than just treating the patient”, Eric started to develop an interest in healthcare. Due to his interest in biotechnology and still unsure if medicine was the right path for him, Eric decided to major in chemical engineering in college. However, after two years of undergrad, Eric realized he preferred the direct patient care aspect of medicine more than engineering and decided he wanted to go to medical school. After undergrad, Eric completed the Special Master’s Program at Georgetown, which is what really sparked his interest in GUSOM. “I felt like the administration genuinely cared about the students. I really appreciated how I felt valued and how my input seemed important to the administration and that the students really did feel that they were the core of what the school was doing.”
Eric joined APAMSA because he felt that navigating the medical school process could be very overwhelming and wanted to talk to people who felt the same way. “I am a first-generation immigrant, first-generation college student, first-generation medical student, so I really didn’t have anybody in my immediate family that could really help me navigate the process. I always felt like I was going through it by myself”, he admitted. APAMSA gave Eric a community where was able to connect with those who had gone through similar experiences as him. “I felt like it was important to talk to people who had gone through similar things as me because when you’re not really talking to anybody, it is really easy to feel like your experience is really unique to your own and you are on your own. But once you talk to people, it is clear that for many things, not all things, lots of people are dealing with similar things.” Additionally, it is very helpful for Eric to talk to physicians and residents who have faced similar challenges but reached their goals. “Being able to see someone in a position of influence who can say yes I’ve gone through it, yes it is difficult, but yes it does get better…really helps me push through it.”
As he continues on his journey, he advises future medical students “not to overload yourself and be reasonable with what you can handle.” Additionally, he emphasized the importance of taking time for self-care and planning activities outside of medical school extracurriculars. “I think the biggest thing is to take care of yourself and not let being a medical student become the sole defining point of your personality and your life. It is always important to keep the person you were before medical school alive, whether this is through scheduling in time for hobbies or seeing your friends.”