“Never Limit Your Dreams”: Thin’s Story

Photo credit: Wyut Yi Thin

When I was a kid, I always wanted to help people. I grew up watching Jackie Chan’s movies, and I admired that he saved people with his martial arts, which inspired me to learn Taekwondo in high school. When I got older and was about to choose a career, I wondered: What’s the best way I can help people at their most vulnerable? That’s when I decided to go after medicine.

Photo credit: Wyut Yi Thin

I graduated with an M.B.B.S. degree from medical school in Myanmar and worked as a physician for two years. It was a dream come true — I was using my skills and expertise to help people, something I had always wanted to do. But I was always curious about the United States, the land of opportunity — a place where we can learn and grow — and I wanted to see how far I can go in terms of professional and personal growth. I migrated to the U.S. as a legal permanent resident in 2018 and started working as a medical assistant in New York City to keep in touch with the U.S. clinical environment.

Photo credit: Wyut Yi Thin

When I decided to start my career as a physician in the U.S., I knew that it would be a challenge. There is a lot to overcome, from taking the license exams to documentations, getting U.S. clinical experience in the hospital setting, finding research opportunities, and building a solid resume for the residency application. I need to repeat all the training and education after I already graduated in Myanmar. I remember thinking, “It’s like a big mountain in front of me. I’m not sure I’ll be able to climb up a mountain like that.” Indeed, there were many ups and downs in this long journey. Even so, I never gave up.

Photo credit: Wyut Yi Thin

I studied hard for the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) and finished all the necessary steps with high scores. But I still needed help with the interview preparation required to match for residency programs in the U.S. That’s where Upwardly Global came in. I connected with Tamar and Karyn, my coaches, for weekly interview practice sessions, and I also got help with the resume preparation. I always knew I was up for a challenge, and with Upwardly Global’s help, I met that challenge head-on. I secured eighteen residency program interviews across the U.S.! I’ve since matched with a hospital in the Chicago area and accepted the residency job. I’m very delighted to finally achieve my dream and start the next chapter of my life!

Living and working through the current pandemic hasn’t slowed me down at all. Instead, it’s driving me forward and making me more determined and passionate. There’s one thing we all have learned from the pandemic: We need to stand together with our community — and for those in the medical field, with our patients. I want to help and be part of the incredible medical community as soon as I can — and become the very best version of myself along the way.

I’m grateful to Upwardly Global for helping to pave that path for me — and I hope that my story could serve as an example of one of the many ways that international medical graduates can contribute to the patients and the community if given the opportunity. I also want to tell my fellow international medical graduates, “Never limit your dreams. We all deserve to dream and make it come true with our passion and perseverance!”

Upwardly Global is a national nonprofit organization that works to eliminate employment barriers for skilled immigrants and refugees.