Monday, January 09, 2006

AMCAS - Personal Statement

"Tree burn," a new phrase (to me) in medical terminology, is but one condition supporting my certainty that I want to be a doctor. I have only recently learned about tree burn, though my interest in medicine began at a much earlier age. When I started elementary school my mother purchased a memory book I was to fill out at the end of each school year. One of the questions in the book was the age old "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Doctor, an option I never selected, was one of the many available occupational choices. I always picked "model/actress." A seemingly natural choice as physical beauty by almost anyone's definition seems to run in the genes among the women in my family. I did not start thinking of a career in medicine until much later, during a visit to my pediatrician's office. It was a magical place with beautifully painted walls, toys everywhere, and a playground outside. As I grew older I began to truly see the service my doctor provided. Her knowledge and skill empowered her and gave her the unique ability to ease minds, while providing compassionate care. I grew to respect her for the knowledge and skill she evinced while doing the job she loved. While my friends experienced growth spurts, I realized I would forever view the world from the lofty height of five feet and would always be a little on the chubby side. This knowledge closed the door on any dreams of being a model. A person with my physical characteristics is not a marketable package in the glamour industry. I have other abilities: intelligence, patience, compassion and a desire to serve and be a productive member of my community. These are the attributes I bring to the table, affording me the knowledge I will make an excellent doctor.

Back to tree burn; tree burn is like carpet burn except that it occurs after you have hugged a tree through a hurricane in order to survive. I saw too many people with tree burn when I became one of the many survivors waiting out the fury of hurricane Katrina at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, MS. I am normally employed there as the weekend cardiology department technician. I am one of the few people in my department without children and have volunteered to be our department's designated member of the hurricane and emergency preparedness staff. I left my home on Sunday with three pairs of scrubs and toiletries, and the biggest worry on mind was the MCAT that I had taken only eight days before and how nervous I would be for the next two months waiting for my scores to be reported. The next morning, instead of my shift ending, I was moving patients from the exterior rooms into the hallways to escape the glass of windows shattering under the assault of hurricane force winds. I helped nail doors shut, calm patient's fears, and assist the other medical staff. We waited together. I do not remember feeling scared, probably because I was too busy attending to the people needing my help. The winds finally died down enough to board up the windows and provide a secure environment for the patients. I became part of the custodial staff and cleaned up glass and debris so we could return patients to their rooms. Like an unending nightmare, I was pressed into service in the emergency department where all available technical staff was needed to assist the medical staff. My first trip outside of the hospital occurred when a dump truck pulled up to the ambulance bay, and the driver let the rear gate down and over twenty people stepped out of the back. I helped treat minor lacerations of children rescued after enduring long periods of submersion in the flooding. Our discharged patients and newly homeless people often became restless as they waited worriedly together in the makeshift shelter the hospital had become. I helped wrap food to feed them and passed out colors and stickers to children. I lent emotional support to parents putting on an appearance of normality and calm assurance for their children. By Wednesday, the hospital was running short of generator fuel. While returning to my office, after having just finished taking a shower at 1AM, I found myself in a pitch-black hallway. Once again I was whisked off to be of assistance to other departments, first ER then ICU, where I assisted in bagging patients needing the air no longer being provided by respirators. I am sure it was disconcerting for some to see me doing this in my pajamas.

Wednesday afternoon, ninety-six hours after arriving, I was afforded my first opportunity to return to my home. When I arrived, my house looked perfect, but I was only able to push the door open a crack. My home was knee deep in mud and muck from the flooding in Bay St. Louis, and most of my belongings were forever lost. I did not even try to go inside. I simply shut the door on my wrecked home and the emotional loss it contained and returned to work. Realizing I was very fortunate to still have a job in a hospital staffed with exceptional medical personnel who, in this crisis, stepped up and took responsibility to provide treatment and care to so many left homeless and destitute. As I relive the events of those four days, I am more certain than ever my career choice to become a medical doctor truly is my destiny.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A great personal statement and a pleasure to read :).

Sunday, July 16, 2006 at 11:31:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! good luck to you, i am sorry for your loss, but happy that you found your true destiny. you know more about who you are to core

Wednesday, July 19, 2006 at 5:04:00 AM CDT  
Anonymous Leo said...


Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 8:30:00 PM CST  
Blogger Farah said...

great PS, like everyone else has said. even more impressive is your dedication during an emergency that sounds like it hit pretty close to home.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007 at 11:23:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous redteddy09 said...

I'm really sorry for your loss. However I know for sure after reading this personal statement that you will be one of the few amazing doctors.

Beautifully written personal statement though because I felt so calm while reading it but I could also feel every emotion you went through.

Just a side note for you, I actually went down to New Orleans during my Spring break this year to do tons of gutting, painting, plumbing and all sorts of other fixtures in the lower 9th ward. I can't believe how bad that area still is after what? 4 years?

Good luck to you!

Friday, June 12, 2009 at 7:10:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear about what you went through. You are a true hero. However, in your personal statement you make it sound like you were the only one that "stepped up." I think it would have been better if you kept everything and reflected upon it, reflecting upon what you learned?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 6:58:00 PM CDT  

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