Medicine Personal Statement Three

My interest in medicine first started with a single-minded passion for all things science. At a young age, I developed a passion for all science and the process behind it. The idea that a scientist could think of something in a way that had never been done before to create something completely novel amazed me. This lead me to finding medicine and this is where I started my journey to becoming a physician. The idea that I could use my knowledge of science to directly help people made medicine seem like the ideal field for me.

My single minded focus on science made me blind to the many issues facing patients today: including insurance problems, shortage of general physicians, and the stigmas associated with many disorders. When I first was exposed to these problems, I started to doubt if medicine was really the career for me and explored other career options, like engineering, social work, and medical technology. However, none of these other fields made me quite as excited as science. When I entered Michigan State University, my Lyman Briggs classes during my first year exposed me to many amazing mentors in medicine and research which only motivated me to continue on this path. Working at Helping Hand’s Respite Care, I was able to work first hand with patients and learn that there is more to medicine than the simple science; the interactions you have with your patients give you the strength and knowledge not only to treat other patients in the future, but also motivate you to find solutions for your patients.

As an Indian immigrant,  I spent most of my summers growing up traveling to India. Every time I visited India, I noticed how the roadsides were filled with people begging for food, some who had various physical disabilities. Living in an area where I could easily access medical care, both in India and Michigan, I never have had had to deal with these problems. The fact that some people are denied access to life saving or changing medications simply because they couldn’t afford it or because of their rank in society… (trying to say something along the lines of made me uncomfortable and wanting to change it through global and rural medicine).

At Michigan State University, I have been fortunate enough to shadow multiple physicians and serve my community through many  impactful organizations, such as Student Health Advisory Council and Spartan Spectrum. The opportunity that stood out to me the most was shadowing Dr. Cara Leahy, a neurologist based in the small farm town of Owosso, Michigan. The problems that her patients faced living in a rural community reminded me of my the roots of my interest in a career in medicine. Her patients needed access to a neurologist, but many of them had to travel at least an hour or more to get to the only hospital located in Owosso. For some, insurance problems made it even more difficult for them to visit a doctor to receive proper care and necessary medications. Dr. Leahy’s commitment to serving these people and helping increase accessibility to medication only inspired me even more. She was helping to improve the lives of her patients, similar to how I hope to be able to improve the lives of the people I have seen while exploring the global community.

During shadowing and classes, I was fortunate enough to learn about few of the proposed mechanisms behind some of the disabilities that I would see at Helping Hands, including Fragile X Syndrome and Rhett’s Syndrome. I found it so fascinating that for some diseases a mechanism could be so well understood, like FMRP in Fragile X Syndrome, yet, there could still be such a wide difference in presentation clinically. For one of the client’s I interacted with at Helping Hands, so little was known about their disability that the disorder itself did not have a name. Additionally, even if we do know a significant amount about a disease, there were still so many questions to be answered. My first interaction with research was at a computational biology lab studying muscular dystrophy at the University of Michigan; at Helping Hands I was able to see the reasons why this research was being conducted and how important it truly was. The kids I worked with were my inspiration to better myself, both for my future as a physician, and as a scientist.

With this newfound passion for research, I became a part of Dr. Rupali Das’ lab researching the role of NKT cells in peripheral cancer.  This opportunity expanded on my patient-centered work at Helping Hands, teaching me more about the creative role of a scientist or physician in finding novel ways to solve a problem. At Helping Hands, it was my role to care for a person while their primary care provider had another commitment. To do this, I had to think creatively to keep the person entertained. Examples of this includes finding disability friendly art projects and activities around the Lansing area. Similarly in research, to get data that is different from anyone else’s, you have to approach a question in a new way and find creative solutions to a problem. 

Working at Helping Hands pushed me to be creative in working with the children at the respite house to keep them entertained and excited to be there. This creativity translates beyond clinical work into research. To find novel solutions to problems, one has to think creatively. Working at Helping Hands and doing research helped me realize the importance of creativity in the role of a physician as well. Outside of research and work, I have been playing various musical instruments, singing, and doing photography for many years. The creativity necessary in these hobbies is not only reflected in my research and clinical work, but also serves as a way to relieve the stress from my other commitments. Through shadowing Dr. Leahy and seeing her work in rural medicine, I was able to see how she was able to find creative solutions to make sure her patients received the medication they needed,like finding a way to use botox to treat a patient’s migraines when their insurance didn’t cover it. 

The diagnoses that ultimately led the clients at Helping Hands to need that care was not what defined them. They each had their own personalities and interests that made them so much more than their illnesses. As a care provider, I was able to get to know a few of these children and through working at the associated respite house, I was able to interact with a wide range of people. Beyond the clients at Helping Hands, I also had the opportunity to interact with a large team of people and learn more about the importance of multidisciplinary teams in medicine. As the care provider, I got to interact with the clients regularly, so my input was crucial to other staff members at Helping Hands to create and implement effective care plans. Similarly, a doctor alone cannot treat a patient, they must work with a wide range of people, including care providers, nurses, and other specialist. Access to these multidisciplinary teams are critical to any person’s healthcare experience, regardless of where they live.

The combination of these experiences and many others I have had during my time at Michigan State University make me excited for my future as a physician. I have been able to move outside my single minded passion of science to better understand the role of a physician, regardless of if they are a specialist or primary care. 

 

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