What holds every applicant from submitting their application to medical school, dental school, pharmacy school, physical therapy school, etc? The personal statement. You’re requested to summarize your life, describe your accomplishments, and detail your reasons for desiring a position in a graduate program in one page. 1300 characters. Syntax, diction, presentation all have to be perfect. Flawless. One mistake could cost you a red mark from an admissions representative. Applicants to medical school (or any other for that matter) can not afford any red marks.
So here’s my attempt at expressing myself in so few characters:
Life or Death. Life and Death. One word seems to make a tremendous difference not only in the connotations of these two words but also in our attitudes towards them. Is it a decision to be made- whether to live or die- or are life and death purely two interacting components of the cycle of life? Physicians, and patients alike, are faced with the two very different perspectives of life and death every day. Unfortunately, every one of us will experience some form of death throughout our lives but we are all also blessed to know the wonders of life.
I have experienced many accounts of death in my short lifetime including the passing of grandparents, friends, parents of friends, young cousins, and the death of my eldest brother, Robert, when he was seventeen and I thirteen. Robert’s death had the greatest impact on my emotional, mental, and psychological development not only because of our close sibling relationship but also because I was, at the time, beginning to transition from a child to a young adult with increased responsibilities. With these increased responsibilities, I felt that my role was to keep the family ‘living’ in our time of grief and sadness. I took it upon myself to bring happiness to my parents, grandparents, brother and sister, and anyone I came into contact with. In doing so, I was able to live and let live; I allowed myself to enjoy the little things in life and strived to also bring this joy to others. Ralph Waldo Emerson wisely said, “Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.” Sharing happiness with others proved to be the best remedy for my own recovery. Since this experience, it has been my life philosophy everyday to bring happiness, invoke laughter and smiles to all, and in some small way ‘make their day.’
I would like to expand this philosophy to improving lives in a medical sense. I have shadowed doctors, volunteered in hospitals and clinics, and conducted several successful experiments that have enriched, in me, an urgent sense of purpose. Being able to learn from practicing physicians about diseases, observe doctor-patient interactions, and understand how to not only best care for the illnesses but also the patients, made these learning experiences invaluable. This past year, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate in a Human Gross Anatomy class. Four other students and I dissected a human cadaver, noted anomalies and variations, and presented the anatomical and histological findings at the Experimental Biology conference in Anaheim, California where we were the only undergraduate presenters. These combined experiences fostered my love for the sciences and drive to attain higher education in the health field.
Many physicians have some sort of tragic experience which has shaped their lives and inspired them to enter the health field. My life-changing experience was the passing of my brother. With his passing, dynamics of our family also passed. Through my family’s holistic recovery, I gained a life philosophy which I hope to now apply to a practice in the health field. If made possible, I would be honored to serve others, as a trusted, humane physician, improving patients’ health yet also reassuring them of my investments not only in their recovery of disease but also in the many elements of human suffering throughout Life and Death.