I know alot of you out there are on a “non-traditional” pathway toward medical school. As someone who has walked just such a path, I just want to let you know that your journey will help define you one day. And hopefully make for an interesting read as you craft your personal statement some day soon.
For anyone looking for essay writing inspo or who might just be curious, the following is my actual personal statement submission for residency training in family medicine.
I’ve often thought that if we could view all our lives together from start to end as a progression through time, they might resemble the branches of some great tree. We could trace each of our lives from the roots and trunk of the past all the way out to the branches and leaves of our later years and the budding fruit we leave as our legacy. Along the way, we could discern branch points in our lives-particular points in time when some influence led us down one path rather than another. I find this analogy useful at times when it seems that my life is indeed at one of these branch points. While none of us can know our future with certainty until we’ve lived through each moment, I find that recognizing the influences that have led to the present moment helps make clear the best way forward.
My path toward medicine started with a simple idea. As a child, my mother would often tell my siblings and I stories about her father who had been a field medic in Nigeria during the Biafran Civil War. I was always fascinated when she would tell us about how he had braved dangerous war zones to not only treat friendly forces, but also at times tend to the wounds of enemy soldiers. Even as a child who couldn’t begin to understand the toxic geopolitical and social forces that drive human beings to war, what I could very much grasp was the simple idea that the calling to help save lives and heal the wounded and sick is truly profound. Even on the battlefield it is recognized and respected. I grew to view medicine as more than a job or career, but rather a true calling. And I grew to see doctors as the people who bring the greatest intellectual gifts to bear in answering this calling.
As I advanced from grade school to college, my path was strongly influenced by an interest in the budding field of regenerative medicine. In particular, I was fascinated by the promise of stem cell-based therapies in treating chronic conditions. This interest shaped my course of study in college and my work as an undergraduate research fellow, and ultimately led to my pursuit of graduate studies. Just as impactful during that time were my first experiences really seeing clinical medicine firsthand. The physicians on my research team would allow me to observe their hospital rounds and take part as a curious observer in the consultations and discussions that took place. I was impressed by the gratitude expressed by patients who felt that the care team was working hard for their health, and by the tremendous level of trust evident in the doctor patient relationship. I saw first-hand that the doctors I worked with had built careers around the pursuit of excellent patient care while pushing forward the boundaries of medical knowledge. From them, I began to understand the truly profound motivation to be the best doctor you can be in order to do the best for your patients.
After graduate school, I had the enormous privilege to work in the clinics of family medicine physicians as a medical scribe. The doctors I worked with had practices that incorporated wholistic approaches to healthcare delivery using models like the patient centered medical home, and they leveraged technologies like point of care ultrasound and tele-scribing. In this new world of medicine brought on by the covid-19 pandemic, we have all begun to embrace telehealth by necessity. I feel lucky to have been able to gain great experience with these technologies during that time, and I very much look forward to implementing new technology to help deliver better care in the future.
Looking back through these branch points in time that have brought me to this moment, I hope you can see how I’ve been molded and shaped by my experiences. I am seeking a residency program which will expose me to a broad range of patients both from a medical and socioeconomic standpoint, and allow me to gain valuable hands on experience. After residency, I intend to pursue fellowship in sports medicine with the intent to explore practical uses for stem cell-based therapies for chronic joint conditions. I would be honored to be considered for your residency program.
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