Why it’s ok to be a role model (and happen to be Asian)

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While flipping through photos on NY Med’s Facebook site, I came across a photo of me and Marina Dedivanovic. Under the photo, there was a comment that read, “is that the real Christina Yang?”

For those who are not terribly with it when it comes to pop-culture references, Christina Yang is the fictional character from Grey’s Anatomy who is described as being competitive, aggressive and bossy. To be honest, I wasn’t offended by the Facebook comment although if someone were to describe me with those 3 adjectives, he/she probably doesn’t know me all too well. What I took away from that comment is that there are so few Asians who have prominent roles in media that a hard-working doctor in a real-life documentary (me!) will likely be compared to a fictional doctor from television (Christina Yang!). (Growing up, I was frequently asked if I was the girl from Wayne’s World, Lucy Liu, or Lisa Ling. Ha.)

When you see me on television, I hope you see someone you’d like to be your doctor, not your Asian doctor. And if you aspire to go into the medical profession, I hope you look up to me as your role model and not necessarily as your Asian role model. My mother raised me with very strong Korean-American values, but that has no bearing on the sutures I’ll place above your eyebrow, the chest compressions I’ll deliver when your heart stops, or the bone I’ll put back into place when your shoulder dislocates.

However, if a Korean grandmother comes into the ER and doesn’t speak English, you better believe I’ll bust out my best Korean.

That’s all.

Comments? @DrDebbieYi 

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