This interview is the latest in an Accepted blog series featuring interviews with medical school applicants and students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top medical schools and the med school and residency application process. And now, introducing Dr. Joyce Park…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Joyce: I grew up Northern California (Bay Area represent!) and went to Stanford for undergrad, where I studied human biology, and medical school. I lived in pretty much a 20 mile radius my entire life until I did my medical journalism fellowship (more on that below) and of course, when I moved out here to NYC for dermatology residency last July.
Accepted: Can you share 3 fun facts about yourself?
1. Thanks to my mom, I auditioned for a part in the Joy Luck Club when I was a 10 year old girl. Needless to say, I did not get the part. I don’t have one acting bone in my body!
2. I like to eat dessert above anything else. Favorite desserts: cupcakes and panna cotta.
3. Many people think I look like the Japanese hamster named “Hamutaro.” I’ll leave that up for you to decide.
Accepted: Where did you go to med school? How many programs had you applied to and why did you choose that program?
Joyce: I applied broadly to the top 30 medical schools based on the US News report, but I mainly focused on the West Coast because I wasn’t quite ready to leave California yet.
I ultimately ended up choosing Stanford for medical school because a. I had such an amazing, unforgettable and unique time there as an undergrad and I saw how that culture extended into the medical school and b. I already had some faculty mentors in the Stanford Med departments with whom I wanted to continue my work.
Looking back, I don’t regret my decision for an instant. Stanford School of Medicine is an amazing place to learn and grow and most importantly, experiment! The school supports you in whatever endeavors you want to try and will allow you time and also funding to pursue your passions. It is truly one of a kind.
Accepted: East coast vs. west coast? Which do you prefer and where do you see yourself settling long-term?
Joyce: West coast will always be the best coast! The weather just cannot be beat, and let’s face it, people are happier where it’s sunny year round. I also am very close with my family and they are going to be in the Bay Area for life. I see my husband and I returning to the Bay long-term and settling down there.
Accepted: Why dermatology?
Joyce: One of my favorite clerkships in third year was internal medicine, but I found it really challenging to fully address the large scope of patients’ medical problems under the time pressures of the current medical system. Dermatology combined what I loved about internal medicine (the actual thinking about the medicine!) with super interesting visual diagnoses. I loved the mix of procedures and clinic, the continuity of care I got with patients, and the huge overlap between dermatology and other fields like rheumatology, cancer biology, immunology, etc. In short, I liked it more than any other clerkship I had done and I could really see myself in this field. So I decided to go for it and apply into dermatology!
Accepted: Where are you currently doing your residency? Can you tell us about the match process? What are your top 3 residency application tips?
Joyce: I’m currently a PGY-2 (post medical school graduate year 2) at New York University in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology. The application and match process for dermatology is brutal, and I wrote about my personal experience at great length here. There is a lot of self doubt and insecurity that is a part of the application process for any competitive specialty, and that ties into my tips for residency application:
1. Don’t let your successes or failures during the residency match define you as a person. Any medical student has already worked so hard to make it this far, and no matter what happens, you will be more than fine.
2. Don’t let the fear of failing stop you from trying. Many students are so scared by the competitive specialties that they don’t even want to try applying. If I had let my worries of embarrassing myself stop me, I would not be a derm resident today. What if I had just continued with my previous life plan and went into a field I didn’t love? I would probably end up unhappy and regretting my actions.
3. If you are passionate about something in the field of medicine, that can make you stand out, so show it in your application! The application committee reads hundreds of apps a year, so you want your file to stand out.
Accepted: Can you talk about your stint with medical journalism? Do you have any other views/experiences with medicine and media?
Joyce: In high school a good friend and I were co-editors of the weekly school newspaper, and that started my interest in journalism. In college, I came back from volunteering in Ghana with Unite For Sight feeling a need to help students tell their stories about similar experiences, so I created a global health publication for the Stanford community. I didn’t think I would pursue journalism further, but in medical school a brand new fellowship popped up in my email inbox one day: the Stanford-NBC News Global Health Media Fellowship. This was a whole YEAR designed to explore medical issues in the news, taking me from working in the press office at the World Health Organization in Geneva to shooting news stories with Dr. Nancy Snyderman at NBC News in New York City.
I realized I was good at writing – I was fast at it, which matters in news, and my writing jived with people. I actually liked writing, too! By being the inaugural fellow (read: guinea pig) I was able to shape the format of the year and help other fellows down the line. Doing this year opened more doors to interview at MedX and I personally think having a medical journalism background set me apart from other candidates when applying to dermatology residency, helping me to get to where I am today.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? What have you gained from the blogging experience?
Joyce: I started blogging during my global health media fellowship in 2011, and I’ve been blogging since! I’ve tweaked my blog to target women in their 20’s-40’s who don’t necessarily have a scientific or medical background. I write about beauty, health, skincare, and other health topics in a chatty, easy to understand manner, and I’ve recently expanded into vlogging as well!
Blogging has opened up a whole new world of social media for me; I am connecting with people on a much broader platform and being able to educate the public about dermatology and other medical issues on a scale that I just can’t by seeing individual patients in clinic. I have also met an incredible community of other female physician bloggers out there who continue to inspire me and cheer me on whenever I feel down. I feel so lucky to have started blogging and can’t wait to see what the future holds for Tea with MD!
You can follow Dr. Park’s med school adventure by checking out her blog, Tea with MD, or other social sites (Instagram, Snapchat – teawithMD, YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter). Thank you Dr. Park for sharing your story with us!
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