Why do you want to be a physician?
For me, there is no single definitive reason for why I would like to be a doctor, but a collection of reasons that has led me to choose medicine as a profession. The major reason I was led on the path to become a doctor arose from a love of science. As a child, I was always very interested in science and the exploration of the world. Unsurprisingly, one of my favorite activities was reading a picture science encyclopedia, and it was from here that I learned a lot about the world. My parents wondered what would become of me as I grew older because they were not sure that that scientific knowledge would really be of any benefit to me or to society. It is not like having someone around who can tell you about the planets in the solar system or the chemical make-up of their dinner is very useful in a practical sense. As I got older, I began to take on their sentiments as well, all the while maintaining my scientific interest. My parents continually pressed the importance of education, pushing me toward some prestigious career such as a doctor or lawyer. As I became older and more independent, I was also more rebellious towards them in all regards, including their choices of careers for me. As a result, we argued about it a lot and I was adamant about not becoming a doctor or a lawyer. Eventually I won out and the arguments ceased, with my parents no longer pressuring me into any career path. During my senior year I had a biology teacher whose teaching really hit me home because he not only lectured about theory but would always meld theory and application. Of course, the applications often related to the field of medicine, and as I pondered more, I realized that all of my scientific passion could be realized in a practical goal: through the practice of medicine. My interest in science led me to be was nudged by my high school biology teacher onto a path toward a career in medicine. While he may never know the true impact that he had upon me or his numerous other students, I am very well aware of what he was able to awaken in me, and for this reason, I consider teaching and education to be of the utmost importance, even in medicine. So, somewhat ironically, I had stumbled back into what I had fought so hard against my parents to avoid. Upon this decision, I also realized that my past opposition was entirely unfounded. Had my parents actually asked for a reason why I was so against their suggestion, I would have had none to give, save for the fact that I opposed them for the sake of being against them.
Scientific passion, of course is not the sole reason of why I want to be a doctor, but it is also because I find the medical profession very fulfilling. Becoming a doctor is fulfilling for me because it matches all of my expectations of a career that I find rewarding. The necessary components for me in a fulfilling career would have to be science-oriented, based on interpersonal interaction and be thoroughly intertwined with education. No other career path is able to fulfill all of these satisfyingly at once besides a medical profession.
In the past few years here, I have had many experiences that really helped me set my mind on a career in medicine. My research experience allowed me to explore the world through scientific and analytical means in an academic sense that as a doctor, you would also be required to do as well. What strongly motivated my career choice was volunteering at my county’s convalescent center and interacting with the patients there. Personally, this was a very gratifying experience and this sense of service to others is very self-rewarding. An experience that is related to that is my training as an emergency medical technician. This exposure to the field has really opened my eyes to the types of social interactions that are necessary to be successful in the field of medicine and especially as a doctor. Lastly, my experience as both a student and an educator has shown me the true value that education provides, and as a doctor, education will always be a central part of life as you will forever be both a student and a teacher.
What experiences have you had in a health care setting? How have these experiences helped you in your decision to pursue a health profession?
Volunteering at the DuPage Convalescent Center in my county has been an experience that has assured me that choosing a career in medicine is the correct choice for me. My volunteering experience was initially through recreational activities where I would interact with the patients and transport them as needed. The events would range from musical events to trivia to bingo and I found myself really enjoying volunteering here. I was able to form connections to many of the patients because they felt as if they could confide in me better than the workers and nurses at the convalescent center. From this experience I knew that I would pursue a career in healthcare. I hope that I can appeal to future patients in that they will be able to trust me in the same way that they trusted me as a volunteer and not treat me as an outsider liked they viewed the nurses and workers. Following my time in that specific area of the center, I then moved to work with transporting the physical therapy patients to the therapy area. During my time here, while a lot of patients were very willing to go to therapy and knew that it was beneficial, I found some to be quite against it. Some patients would become angry when I came to take them to physical therapy and I had trouble with them. The nurses told me to respect their wishes, and I concurred, however, this did not stop me from learning how to persuade them to go. As time went on, I came to understand each patient more and as a result, I was even able to convince patients to go who had not gone in over half a year. The nurses were surprised when they saw some of these patients willingly showing up to therapy. I found that this patient interaction was something that I enjoyed and found out that it was something which I could do well, and this led me back again to a medical career. I felt that going on this track would not only make the best use of my own skills but it would also challenge that skillset the most and not only allow me to help others but it would allow me to grow as a person.
Outside of a health care setting, what have you done to be of service to others? How have these experiences helped you in your decision to pursue a health profession?
In my past three years I have been very involved in teaching and education through various means. Continuing from my tutoring in high school, I decided to try and find a job during my freshman year that was connected to teaching in some form. This is when I had a friend show me the website Shmoop.com, an educational website with educational content ranging from English literature to mathematics to SAT test preparation. It turned out that they were a relatively new company and in the process of developing more educational material and needed people to help them. I then applied to work for Shmoop and was hired as a calculus consultant for the website. My job was to develop and review calculus material for the site. I worked for one of the founders of Shmoop who wrote many of the problem sets and practice calculus exams in order to review the problems and solutions. Additionally, I also worked alongside her to develop new ideas and problems to be included that would be beneficial for learning calculus. They found me to be a valuable asset to the process because I was still a student and had just taken calculus, meaning my experience would be fresh in my mind and I could help them better understand the mindset of the student. This experience was different from my previous tutoring experiences because of directly helping other students; I was instead helping the teachers to better help students. In this way, I was able to teach the teachers how to teach. I was very happy that a website like Shmoop can exist because they way that they approach education is very modern and beneficial for students. It shows that education is a two way channel and teachers and students are never strictly one or the other, but always a hybrid: student-teachers. For me, the interaction between student and teacher is not much different than that between physician and patient. All physicians must be educators to their patients like teachers to their students. The relationship is similar on many levels. The student teacher relationship has the teacher in a superior position as the teacher is the one who is more experienced and knowledgeable, directly analogous to the interaction between a doctor and her patient. The doctor is the knowledgeable one in the relationship and is the person the patient looks to for help. Both students and patients come to teachers and doctors when they are ailing, whether of an ailing in understanding or physical condition, the correlation between the two relationships is clear.
This similarity became even more apparent to me during my time as a chemistry teaching assistant when I had very personal interactions with my students. I had to grade each of their assignments, which let me assess each of their strengths and weaknesses, strikingly similar to the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment that a doctor would give to a patient. Being a teaching assistant, it was my job to help each student grasp the material fully, and in order to do this, I had to understand each student on a very personal level. This was a crucial part of being an effecting teacher because each person has different skills and learns at different rates and respond differently to each method of teaching. Therefore, to become an effective educator you must learn the manner that each person must be taught in order that best suits them. Treating patients is identical in that each patient must be catered to specifically as each person will have different needs. My teaching experiences helped me decide on a career in medicine because of the analogous skills required between teaching and treating patients. Why though, would I choose a health profession over an education profession? I have found that after my clinical and educational experiences, that a health profession would be more fulfilling for me.