Medicine Personal Statement One

My childhood was wrought by war and death. Born in Kuwait on the verge of the Gulf War, my family fled during the Iraqi invasion to return to our hometown of Bethlehem. However, this war zone proved to be more brutal. At 10 years old I feared sleeping in my bed after 3 bullets lodged inches from my head while I slept. I spent many nights huddled under the kitchen table with my family as airstrikes and ground raids shook our home day and night. At 12 years old I watched my father die. We were told his heart was “weak” and it acutely worsened in the midst of a 40 day military seize on our town. By the time we struggled through checkpoints and battlefields, we arrived to the local hospital only to find most physicians and nurses had already fled. I watched him lying still as the heart monitor faithfully beeped. No one told us he was already dead. I later learned that was his pacemaker working, not his heart.

My father’s sudden death, and the lack of adequate healthcare available to save him changed thedirection of my life. Through painful personal experience, I know how even minimal access to healthcare and medical facilities can be the difference between life and death in war zones andareas of poverty. I intend to become a physician to advocate for disadvantaged communities; as I understand even slight alleviation of their morbidity and mortality has a lasting and significant effect.

Soon after completing 10th grade, I immigrated to America. Whilst at community college, my interest in science and anatomy grew and I began tutoring fellow students in biology and chemistry upon the recommendations of my professors. I developed a zeal and aptitude for tutoring; quickly realizing the enjoyment I derived imparting knowledge to others and teaching the more complex concepts of science in an understandable format.

My first introduction into the clinician’s world was The University Link Medical Science Program (ULMSP). I shadowed anesthesiologists; observed surgeries; studied and presented onHepatitis C; conducted oncology research; and volunteered in a clinic. It was during these experiences that I realized the impact of research and the importance of not just treating but educating patients. While translating for a pediatrician, a child with a bacterial infection kept getting readmitted. His mother, who only spoke Arabic, explained that she had only been administering one dose of the three-dose- a-day antibiotics as she thought it was too much medicine. I delicately explained that insufficient dosing was unwittingly prolonging her child’s treatment and potentially making his infection worse. This experience highlighted how instructions lost in translation can have a significant impact in the medical outcomes of patients and the potential health literacy has to create healthy communities.

After completing ULMSP, I returned as a peer counselor and was promoted to Associate Director (AD). National budget cuts risked the program and I responded by founding an ambassador program. We advocated for ULMSP and received ninety thousand dollars to continue the program. For my work as AD, I received the Bingham Scholarship, which recognizes the most outstanding undergraduate student employee for his academics, communication, and teamwork skills. Compassion, dedication, integrity; these are core components of what makes a great leader and a great physician; and, they are the values by which I intend to lead and practice. 

During my Master’s Degree in Chemistry, I soon found a real passion as a teaching assistant(TA) and attained the TA Award for Excellence. Pursuing my love for teaching, I was hired as Professor of Chemistry at two colleges that mainly serve minority students. I researched and applied the most evidence-based techniques of successful teachers introducing my students to activities like the flipped-classroom system, stress management and self reflection. 

While teaching college, I volunteered at St. Jude’s Hospital and was fortunate to shadow Dr. Farid, an interventional radiologist. I remember meeting 52 year old “Kevin,” who presented in the ER mute and half paralyzed after suffering a stroke. Dr. Farid ordered IV r-tPA then decided to perform a mechanical thrombectomy. After a challenging yet successful procedure, Kevin regained most of his normal functions back. Though only observing, I felt I was part of a team that saved Kevin’s life that day. I felt moved, invigorated and more determined to become a physician. I want to assume leadership and treat patients with the same aptitude, synchrony, calm and command that Dr. Farid demonstrated.

At 12 years old I knew I wanted a different life for myself. As a physician I want to make a difference in many patients’ lives. Like the clinicians I respect and learn from, I aspire to be guided by compassion and empathy; grow from the challenges I have endured and apply myself in my career with the same academic rigor which has defined my education. I want to develop my clinical and research skills and add these to my teaching skills so that my work helps to reduce health disparities in disadvantaged communities, and promotes a foundation of informed, healthy living across all demographics.

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