Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Catalyst - My Personal Statement

I was reading one of my favorite blogs the other day, and while I don't necessarily agree with her on the probable origin of mitochondria, her most recent post reminded me of a story that I'd like to share. Coincidentally, this story of mine also served incredibly well as the introduction to my personal statement (PS). One of the main reasons that the AMCAS application includes a personal statement is to help you tell schools the reason why you want to become a physician - not just to gush about how you're so awesome. It's the applicant's chance to grab the adcom's attention - to allow one's vibrant color to stand out from the monochromatic mass that is the med school applicant pool.

The excerpt below is just the first two paragraphs of my personal statement; I'm still debating on what else (if anything) from my PS I will share on my blog. It tells about a single experience that helped spur me on to investigate a career in medicine, and my subsequent search for what that really meant for me. Obviously, that search resulted in a desire to become a medical doctor - one that will actually be realized, now that I've been accepted to a med school - which STILL feels weird to say, more than a month later. Anyway, here's the intro to my personal statement, and the experience which pushed me toward becoming a doctor. Note: I mention my experience teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, which I had mentioned in a different part of my AMCAS application. Basically, it consisted of three years of organizing and teaching a program meant to help adult members of the community learn to read, write, and speak English by allowing them to interact with English-speaking college students in a classroom setting. Now that the ESL reference will be clear to you, enjoy!

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I knocked on the office door, pushing it open as I called out, "Anyone home?" Sharon sat with her back to the door, gray bun of hair bobbing in what appeared to be laughter. Chuckling, I asked, "What's so funny?" She gave a kick and as she spun around, I saw her movement for what it was. She was drenched in sweat from head to toe, every muscle in her fragile body contracting in an intense seizure. "N-n-need s-s-SUGAR," she stuttered through gritted teeth. I ran to the packed foyer and yelled, "Everyone listen! There's a woman in here having a seizure. I need anyone who has a drink with sugar in it to bring it here immediately!" Silence. "NOW!" I yelled. Three students responded. Back in the office, I cut the corner off of a juice box and held it up to Sharon's lips. I directed one of the students with a pop to have it ready when she finished the juice. I felt helpless, smoothing the sweaty hair from her face as she choked, continuing to seize. I later learned that she had absentmindedly given herself a second insulin injection after lunch, beginning to convulse before she realized her mistake. Throughout the situation I stayed calm while quickly and effectively directing others to do what was necessary.

My experience with Sharon spurred me to look into a career in a health care profession. I was intrigued by what I had seen in myself and wanted to gain more experience in a medical environment, so I pursued an internship shadowing medical interpreters at my local hospital. While observing the doctors, I found I could see myself in the role of a bilingual physician, speaking directly with and helping the patients. From my experience in ESL, I found I have a passion for serving the underserved. At the time, I thought one had to be premed in undergraduate studies to apply to medical school, so I gave up the idea until three years later. After getting married, I found out that my sister-in-law's husband had majored in German and Linguistics before attending medical school. He had gone back to school to fulfill his premed requirements, taken the MCAT and simply applied. After many conversations with my wife and long hours of thought and consideration, I decided to return to school to pursue a career as a physician.

1 comment:

Ivan Kim said...

Hey, I just wanted to say thank you for your blog! I'm a student that is currently applying to MSU CHM too! I was wondering if there are any other specifics I should know too about this school. ALSO, is it possible that we (or I) could read the rest of your personal statement? I'm just looking for better ways to improve and really just finalize my application. Thank you so much!

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