Meet Francesca Yi, M23

School: School of Medicine

Degree: Doctor of Medicine

Home: I love Boston. I really wanted to stay —but I’m excited for new adventures in New York. As long as I’m with my husband and our dog and cat, I’ll be at home.

Why was TUSM the right place for you—and why medicine in the first place?

When I was growing up, my parents owned small mom-and-pop shops, and we didn’t have insurance because we couldn’t afford it. Chronic health conditions went untreated or undertreated because we lacked access to good care, didn’t speak English, and had limited health literacy. There was a lot of fear and confusion around the medical system.

So it took me a while to step over the line from the patient side to the provider side. I started medical school when I was 30, first completing the Tufts master of science in biomedical sciences (MBS) program. I worked as a preschool teacher before that, and then I did clinical research at Boston Children’s Hospital to get a sense of whether I could feel comfortable working at a hospital every day.

When I joined the MBS program, I loved it. I found a kind of camaraderie that I hadn’t had in my undergrad experience, and I knew when I was applying to med school that Tufts would be my first choice. My time here has proven me right: it’s a place that’s filled with brilliant, kind people, and they’ve inspired me to try to become the best version of a doctor—and a human—that I can be.

What advice do you have for others who want to follow a path like yours?

Don’t let age deter you. I’ve always had the attitude, “I’m going to be 35 somewhere doing something. I can be a doctor at 35—or anything else at 35.” It’s okay if you didn’t go straight through. Sometimes, in fact, it’s better; I know that before I got here I learned a lot of communication and life skills that have helped me become a stronger medical student. Let the gap years serve you rather than deter you.

Also, build belief in yourself. You can become a doctor if that’s really what you want to do. It starts with feeling like you deserve what you want—and then finding your people and relying on your support network.

What’s your superpower?

My openness to joy. I’m a bubbly person. I try to bring that to people I’ve known for 30 years and also to people I’ve just met. I think a lot of advocacy work is rooted in the love that you have for your neighbor and the happiness you bring to others.

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