“I graduated magna cum laude from my MBA program, I was a physician, I had an amazing position, and I was not even thirty. I mean, it cannot get better than that.” This was Paola’s life in South America before arriving in the United States. A native Colombian, Paola was working at one of the Chile’s largest public hospitals. It was at that same hospital where she met the American man who eventually became her husband. In 2007, she left her secure position at the Santiago hospital and moved to the Windy City to start a new life.
“It was a hard decision to make,” she explains, “but I always thought that one could be the most successful person in the world, but if you do not have anyone to share this success with, it is not worth it.” With her dual MD and MBA, she attempted to find work in the pharmaceutical and healthcare consulting fields. Paola certainly had the skills, but with the U.S. in the midst of the worldwide financial crisis there were no jobs to find. She considered pursuing her PhD, but the high costs of the U.S. programs was discouraging. “For a long time I didn’t do anything, because I didn’t have the contacts or anything…” she says. Then Paola connected with Upwardly Global. “They really changed my life.”
The Upwardly Global team helped Paola with networking, refining her resume and cover letters, and connecting her with different groups such as the National Forum for Latino Healthcare Executives. Paola also volunteered as a researcher for two Chicago medical researchers, building her local reputation. Eventually she found work in area hospitals as a Spanish-English Medical Interpreter with Healthcare Languages Services of Chicago. The job drew on her medical background and bilingual-bicultural skills, and also allowed her the time and flexibility to prepare for her U.S. Medical Licensing Exams. Additionally, Paola gained experience as an intern at the American Medical Association and as a Clinical Research Coordinator at a medical center.
Working so closely with doctors was a great motivator for Paola to relicense quickly. “I kept thinking I should be there,” she says. She successfully completed the required steps of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and applied for residency positions for 2012. Upwardly Global staff helped her craft her personal statement and prepared her for 5 residency interviews. Paola’s determination paid off: she matched with a Chicago-based program as a Family Medicine Resident starting in July 2012. The program director told Paola that her personal statement was a large influence in their decision to interview her for the position, and Paola says “my personal statement was the key that got me the interview with the program I matched with, and UpGlo was very helpful with it”.
Paola’s decision to come to the U.S. was rooted in her desire for love and family. She does not dwell on the sacrifices she’s had to make but looks to the future. Her plans include returning to a career as a practicing Physician, working in primary care, and one day attaining that PhD. She believes the time, money and energy required for licensing is a sure investment. “If you really, really want it and understand that it’s going to be hard,” she says, “you’ll see that it pays off in the end.See more of our impact