I am originally from South Korea. When my family and I immigrated to the United States, times were very different. We were in a country with an entirely different language, culture, and attitude. Ours was the only Asian family in my neighborhood. It was during those times that my parents taught me how to sharpen my skills of diligence, perseverance, and preparation.These skills helped me to attend medical school at the University of Illinois in Chicago, where I also did my internship in internal medicine and residency in gastroenterology.
I appreciate being a gastroenterologist because it is such a fulfilling field in which to practice. The gastrointestinal tract is basic to life, yet eating means so much more. It is social, pleasurable, symbolic, and traditional. It can augment joy but can also amplify sorrow, echoing one’s emotional state. Abraham Lincoln has written, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Being a gastroenterologist has allowed me to hone this principle and apply it to the care of patients. It is a fascinating field because it combines variegated organs into one discipline, and it requires selecting the “right tool for the right job.”Melding endoscopic evaluation with a patient’s symptoms allows me to do things that may not have been thought possible in the past. Technology such as colonoscopy provides the ability to prevent and even treat early cancer, something many other fields of medicine cannot offer. We can not only screen for cancer, but we have the potential to also treat diseases at the same time, all without surgery. Kaiser Permanente’s integrated system of care and its electronic health record system have been a boon to making my tools sharper. The entire health record is available at the time of procedures and consultations. Labs, radiology results, as well as notes from a patient’s primary care physicians and other consultants, are easily accessible. This often provides a deeper understanding of an individual’s problems and allows us to potentially glean additional clues to a diagnosis or treatment from previously unrelated results or opinions. Presently, I am chief of the Department of Gastroenterology. I am a member of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, American Gastroenterological Association and Society of Gastrointestinal Intervention. I have published in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, and am board certified in gastroenterology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. I continue to keep up to date with advances in my field by reading journals from our professional societies as well as trying to attend conferences that include international leaders in my specialty. This way, I am able to garner insight from advances beyond the United States.
I enjoy spending time with my family, no matter how thrilling or mundane the activity. Drawing and the visual arts have been hobbies of mine since I was young, and I hope to continue these for many years to come. I’m also a kid at heart and enjoy tinkering with computers, playing video games, and dreaming of someday inventing the “next big thing.”