My Personal Statement:
Sitting at the front of the elegantly designed waiting room, I watched as a young mother cautiously approached the reception desk. I sensed that I would have to turn her away, and began preparing the rejection speech that I had given to countless others. She placed the car seat holding her distressed infant on the counter in front of me. I asked for her insurance information, but, sure enough, she had none. While I struggled to force out my overly rehearsed lines, I felt my heart sink as she began explaining in broken English that she could not find a doctor to see her son. Desperate to provide her with a solution, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “C’mon. You’ve done this so many times before. Why is she different?”
I had to turn her away, but her situation has never left my mind. At that point, I had been employed in a medical clinic for a few years, but working was simply a paycheck to me. I never really thought about medicine in a “bigger picture” sense, but that began to change as I was impacted daily by the reactions to my rejection speech. People would get angry, yell, or cry. Some people would even throw pens or other things resting on the counter at me. I think the most difficult reaction to stomach was from the patients who were visibly disappointed to be sent away in a time of need. I mean, their reactions made sense - I was the gatekeeper for the largest urgent care center in the area, and I couldn’t let them in. I came to realize that the young mother had actually redefined the way I perceived my job. She was not different than the other patients I had rejected, I was different.
A few weeks later, a nurse practitioner with whom I had previously worked was opening a low-income clinic and requested my help as her medical assistant. Desperate to never be the “gatekeeper” again, I agreed. At first, I missed the upscale clinic. I missed the electronic medical records and the free pharmaceutical company treats I had left behind. But, before I even realized it, I completely forgot about those things. I observed the provider interacting with her patients, and her genuine desire and ability to help others encouraged me to do the same. I adopted the clinic\'s mission of \"service before self\" as my own, and my misconceptions towards medicine evolved into a life-changing experience.
When a patient was upset, depressed, or anxious I empathized with them and provided a listening ear. When they were confused or had questions, I learned how to educate them or guide them towards external resources. I learned how to provide care to patients of all ages, how to work together with their families, and provide dignity in sensitive situations. Many patients we cared for were complex and required extensive collaboration with specialists. Coordinating care, diagnostic tests and referrals emphasized the teamwork involved in medicine. Above all else, I learned the importance of listening and building trusting relationships with patients and their families.
After nearly a year of working at the clinic, I accepted a triage position at a neuroscience clinic. Only a few days into my position I met Shelly, a woman who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. During my first conversation with Shelly, I quickly discovered why the other staff had grown so impatient with her. Between sobs, she snarled in response to my questions. She was rude, but I could sense she was terrified and I wanted to help. I avoided pressuring or rushing her, and gradually her anxiety decreased. We were able to discuss her concerns tear and anger free. I learned that her steroid treatments were not relieving her symptoms and she was distressed by her constant pain. Along with the advice of her physician, reassurance, and plenty of encouragement, Shelly and I discovered a regimen that gave her relief. Although providing care to patients like Shelly was frustrating at times, I learned to not compromise care over a bad attitude and experienced the positive impact of compassion.
Near the end of my summer position, I began to contemplate continuing my role as a medical assistant. I cherished the humanistic side of medicine I had experienced, but I found myself intrigued by the problem-solving aspect of diagnosis and treatment. Since then, I have wanted to combine the two. After returning to school in the fall, I immersed myself in science and research projects and gained a first-hand appreciation for scientific inquiry and reasoning. Although I had not been the most stellar student in the past, my desire to pursue medicine renewed my interest in academics and motivated me to excel.
Over the years I have spent working in medicine, being a positive influence in the lives of patients has left me with an unparalleled sense of satisfaction and a natural affinity for medicine. Although my journey from the reception desk did not begin this way, the empathy I felt for the people I turned away has driven me to discover a real understanding of medicine, and for that I am grateful. While I was unable to diagnose or provide prescriptions, I was able to care for patients and develop my passion for “service before self.” This simple, but powerful, mission is what I will be able to take with me as I begin my medical journey and serve others in a new role as a physician.
Letter of Interest/Intent (sent about two weeks before my acceptance):
Dear Dr. DeanMan,
With the start of the program rapidly approaching, I realize that EVMS has already interviewed and accepted several amazing candidates. I am writing you with my specific interest in EVMS with hope that my application will be considered for acceptance.
From the moment I arrived on campus and was greeted by the admissions staff, I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging. I was impressed by the quality of students, and the commitment to training exceptional physicians with strong communication skills. I was amazed by the realistic standardized patient demonstration, and the technology that has taken learning to an unprecedented level. The dedication and vested interest EVMS has in student outcomes is something I consider to be extremely valuable and is one of the many reasons EVMS is my top choice.
During the time I spent talking with students and faculty, I gained a sense that EVMS has a culture of community. The students are involved with meaningful projects and are continually encouraged to make a positive impact in the community. I was especially excited when I discovered there were many opportunities to engage in the rural community of the area, as I am particularly interested in practicing rural medicine. In addition to the external community, the social cohesion between the students creates the type of positive learning community I would be proud to be a part of.
Since my interview in October, I have relocated to Alaska and taken a position as an infection control practitioner at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. This exciting position has introduced me to a whole new realm of medicine. I am involved in overseeing infection control practices throughout the 364 bed hospital, educating staff, developing policies, and performing surveillance on hospital-wide nosocomial infections. In a few short months, I have gained a broadened view of healthcare delivery and hospital administration, and have been exposed to the challenges of implementing change in a healthcare facility. Above all else, my position has cultivated a passion for patient advocacy and safety, which I look forward to taking with me to medical school.
I am confident that I will make an outstanding addition to your incoming class. With my proven dedication to academic excellence, my passion for patient-centered care, and my unique perspective that has resulted from a wide variety of experiences, I believe EVMS is the perfect fit for my medical education. The dedication to student success and the culture of community and excellence that is fostered in your institution provides me with the certainty that EVMS will allow me to be the exceptional physician I have always envisioned.
Thank you for your time and consideration,