By: Nok Hang (Tony) Lai, MS-4.
Nok Hang (Tony) Lai is a fourth-year podiatric medical student at Western University College of Podiatric Medicine. He is currently a senior editor of Hallux Magazine.
Transitioning from a foreign country to the United States posed significant challenges for myself and my family as we attempted to adapt to a new way of living and were also faced with limitations due to our socioeconomic status. However, a tenet that I was taught early on was to overcome all obstacles with sheer grit and paying it forward. To that end, I was drawn to healthcare at an early age due to the intimate relationships I visualized firsthand. I was shocked at the differences in treatment compared to the United States. While my grandparents were treated in a patient-centered manner and always included in the treatment decisions, care in China was more paternalistic. Upon my return to the United States, I discovered that as a future physician, I seek to embody the tenets of empathy and altruism to treat in a patient-centered manner.
However, a tenet that I was taught early on was to overcome all obstacles with sheer grit and paying it forward.
Seeking to serve others beyond the classroom, I have found a home in missionary work, volunteering, and outreach. I have been able to serve as a missionary in Arizona, Albania, Turkey, and Malaysia during my time in undergraduate studies and a medical volunteer for a Special Olympics event in Southern California and the LA homeless shelter during my studies in podiatric medical school. I was really honored to be part of the Special Olympics event. As someone who has a younger brother with special needs, I understand the need of a healing hand to help people with special needs continue their competition with healthy feet. As a volunteer at the homeless shelter in downtown Los Angeles, I was able to keep people healthy on their feet. A majority of these patients are without healthcare access, and the only time they have access to foot care is when we were there. I am grateful that I can be one of the contributors to help the community have healthy feet. Each locale posed its unique benefits and challenges, however, what remained constant were individuals suffering from hunger, homelessness, lack of education, and medical care. With each trip, I became motivated to serve humanity domestically with my refined viewpoint and cultural versatility.
As someone who has a younger brother with special needs, I understand the need of a healing hand to help people with special needs continue their competition with healthy feet.
Outreach, clinical volunteering, and missionary work has greatly shaped me into serving others as my primary goal. They have opened my horizon to different issues that are affecting people globally, specifically those underserved communities and third world countries. My empathy and compassion to serving others has given me joy and satisfaction. Serving others internationally has been one of my greatest experiences to enhance the lens of global health and also share the healing and teaching ministry of Jesus Christ. There are many people in poor health conditions in underserved countries, and I wish to use my medical knowledge to help those people in need. I believe that God has put me in this position of serving others for a purpose and I hope through these life experiences, I can make a difference in people’s lives.
There are many people in poor health conditions in underserved countries, and I wish to use my medical knowledge to help those people in need.
My journey in medicine has been one of gradual learning and rooted in a spirit of service. My passions for life-long learning and service have motived my pursuits in this field. All my experiences have enabled me to grow as an empathetic person whose main priority is his patients. It is with the utmost care that I have for communities globally and domestically that motivates me to commit myself daily to advancing my career in podiatry. I wish to continue to make further contributions to my student body to allow us all to grow as future podiatrists and ultimately benefit patient care worldwide.
By Nok Hang (Tony) Lai, MS-4
School: Western University College of Podiatric Medicine
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