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Yena Yoo

CLA alum, Psychology
January 19, 2018

Yena Yoo graduated in the spring of 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at University of Minnesota. Prior to this degree, she received a Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) from Seoul, South Korea.  Yena is a medical student at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences where she started in the fall of 2017.

Tell us about your work. This may include job title or organization, projects you're involved in, populations with whom you work, etc.

I am an aspiring physician and am attending Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in the fall of 2017. While waiting for the first day of medical school, I am currently working as a medical scribe at Abbott Northwestern, West Health, and United Hospital emergency rooms. What do medical scribes do? Medical scribes help physicians document patients visits in real time so that physicians can focus on patient care without worrying about documenting  My shift is usually 8 hours long and during the shift I am paired with one provider (either ER physician, PA, or nurse practitioner) and see patients together. Patient populations can vary depending on locations and the time of day.

What led you to this profession? Tell us about your path.

My path to become a physician has not been straight. I was born and raised in South Korea thinking I would become a marketer one day. While I was in college, I volunteered to teach North Korean refugees. Before, I only knew North Koreans through the news because they cannot travel outside of their country which has very strict media controls.  The students I taught defected from North Korea, risking their lives for freedom and opportunities in the South. They told me unspeakable stories – mostly about relatives they could not be sure were alive. Because I lived an ordinary life, my students’ realities were a revelation. I felt a sense of responsibility and honor. After this exposure, I decided to do something that can touch someone’s life. Then I met my husband who came to Korea to teach English after he graduated from the U. We fell in love and got married. Shortly before we left Korea, my father complained to me about stomach aches with blood in his stool. I was worried, especially given my upcoming departure. I took him to the hospital and there it was. He had a malignant carcinoid tumor in his rectum. When his doctor said "your daughter saved your life. If it was too late, it may have been very difficult to treat” I was grateful for medicine. Luckily, his surgery was minimally invasive and now he is tumor free. In the end, my personal experience with family member's tumor and desire to do something meaningful led me to medicine.  

What is your advice for current CLA students interested in a healthcare career?

If you are interested in a healthcare career, you should try to get exposure to the field. Shadowing or talking to people who are health professionals can be one way. Personally, working as a medical scribe has been the most helpful experience for me. You get to work with physicians closely, see patients, and learn medical terminologies that you would learn eventually. Because of these reasons, I strongly recommend this job to any students who are pre-med or pre-PA.  

What kinds of obstacles have you encountered in pursuing your goals, and how did you overcome them?

I came to America summer of 2011 and began taking classes fall of 2011. Going back to undergraduate at age 29 and taking classes in a foreign language were not always easy. I don't think I had any special tricks to overcome these except to take it one day at a time. Set your goals and plan a day ahead of time. When you want to question yourself, DON'T.