Dr. Justin Chung’ s story

I was born in South Korea. I came to the US thanks to our family’s cousin sponsorship when I was twenty-four (24) years old. I just graduated from medical school with a MD degree of Saint Matthew University in the Caribbean. I am now a US citizen and I love to settle down and to live here the rest of my life.

I have the dream to become medical doctor in the US. When I just arrived here, I had no idea how I could make it. I have no guidance, but my determination has helped me a long way. I have done my own homework and found out the pathway to be licensed as a practicing MD. So I started to work on my USMLEs. I also started my first job here as a cashier at a groceries store in my hometown, Brooklyn, New York. I passed USMLE step 1 in 2008, USMLE step 2 CK and step 2 CS in 2009 and got my ECFMG certificate in 2009.

In Spring and Summer 2010, I had participated a clinical externship that I had paid to be accepted for six (6) months, shadowing practicing physicians at Milestone Clinics in New York in internal medicine. Then, I had applied for four continuous years from 2010 to 2013 for many residency programs across the US without success though I got just a few interviews. Frustration came when I started to realize the wrong system that has pushed many foreign-trained doctors like my situation into the cold and the dark! It is also a waste for the American public when we are in severe shortage of doctors. I stop applying for residency since.

Besides my professional pursue to become licensed MD, my personal life is no less struggling. After my first job at the groceries store with very low wages, I changed to work as a tutor at a local college, Kingsborough Community College of Brooklyn, with their promise to accept me as a teacher when an available job opened. But, that never happened. The pay is too low for me to support my families with two kids.

I changed to work for a medical record company for another year in New York, then I got a job as clinical documentation specialist in California in 2014, I moved my family to Southern California and ever since became Californians. I have obtained two certificates as CDS Clinical Documentation Specialist and Coding technician. I have worked this new job since 2014.

Lately, the bank that loans me my medical student loan of almost $300,000 sent a letter to pressure me to pay back. I have to start a second job as an Uber driver, and work at evenings and weekends to earn some more income to afford the expensive living cost and pay back the loan.

The reason I want to share my story is to let the American public know about a dilemma that has ripped off our community a great resource of medical professionals. I have joined the group with Dr. Katherine Miller to fight for justice for all and everyone involved, direct or indirect.

I hope one day we will actually see lights at the end of the tunnel, which means we have gone along way through the dark tunnel and now it comes out into lights with a real solution for foreign-trained US physician like myself and also using this great ready resource to serve the American public diversity.