Question: Please discuss your expectations as a future physician
Being a daughter of a physician, I have seen what a medical professional’s career looks like from a better vantage point. I know how differently a physician mother would be able to do her role in the family while being held busy by her profession. A doctor swore to save lives at all times, and this oath took away most of her personal time.
When we settled to the United States eight years ago, I have no idea how my new homeland would be. I’ve been in the company of other children whose mothers are devoted to the sole career of taking care of them. Admittedly, I am green with envy that my physician mother does not have the luxury of time to pick me up from school, or cook for my dinner. A physician’s work needed her away from home most of the time, and thus, I grew up without her close supervision. Eating a dinner prepared by others is normal to me. But on the other side of my unhappiness with her situation, I also saw her dedication and love for her job. My admiration for her keeps increasing as I matured dealing with the difficulties I use to endure. And that admiration has drawn me to tread the same path.
At a young age, the inspiration my mother gave me motivated a personal desire to study science seriously. I have been told always that a strong foundation in science is the key to a successful career in medicine. And now, I am facing a moment to test my proficiency in science as I take the challenge of passing an admission test to a medical school. This admission test alone signifies the huge requirement for academic rigor in pursuing this career.
It does not mean however that I am a nerdy type of a person. As I take studies to be a no-nonsense thing, I take time socializing with my peers, neighbors and my family. I am active in community work and the local Girl Scout movement. It is here that I have made a practical test on the ground to validate the theories I learned from books. It is here that I understood how degenerative lifestyle disorders develop. My immersion in the community opened my eyes that health is also a political issue, and it is inextricably linked to state of wellness of the environment we live.
My preparations ahead made me ready, and I don’t find these challenges fearsome anymore. I am, in fact, excited to take the test to prove to myself I am worthy of my chosen path. My mother never gave up learning herself as much of her time is devoted to acquiring state-of-the-art technology, skill and knowledge to cope with the ever advancing field of medicine. This paradigm keeps me strong because I know the first step, which is to pass an admission test to a medical school of my choice, is the most difficult part of my own journey of a thousand miles.
Question: What significant accomplishments or life experiences make you unique?
I am blessed with the privilege to grow up in several places where opportunity brought my family to settle down. My parents and I were born in India but we moved to Spain at a very young age. My childhood passed when we move again to Germany where I spent high school. And now, we are in the United States – where I will shape my ambition to be physician someday.
I consider growing up in three different countries a great experience that formed my uniqueness as a person. Having been exposed to a widely disparate cultural milieu meant so much to me. It is this formation that made relating to people of different backgrounds a job I can do like playing with my toys. My ability to communicate was honed as I grew up in different places, not only in terms of language but understanding non-verbals as well.
Understanding people is not simply mastering their native language; this is what I learned from my Spanish peers. They are a people who treasure their culture, and that explains why they love festivals and the arts. There are also people who value their national pride above the rest, and this makes the Germans memorable to me. Dealing with people needs knowing where they came from, what worldview do they carry, and what they expect from others. I think this is an important skill for a professional whose job is to make people well. Learning to communicate is not simply talking and hearing what the other person will say. A successful and meaningful conversation is achieved only when one of the two parties has an in-depth knowledge about the other person’s background, and where that person is coming from.
I am convinced my varied cultural background will make me a better physician serving in a cosmopolitan city someday. The United States is no longer a home of the American people alone. The American Dream attracted Asians, Europeans, Pacific Islanders, Australians, Africans and practically all people from the world’s seven continents. And as the Hippocratic Oath held, the consideration of race should not be a barrier in the practice of the healing art.
At present, I fluently speak four languages: Spanish, German, English and my native tongue from India. For me, this is a huge advantage that other aspiring medical students would need years to acquire, if they have a material time at all to spend. All I need is to learn Chinese, Arabic and French – the other languages popularly spoken by the rest of the world – and I will be able to talk with anyone who is not a native of the United States.
My knowledge of varied cultures and languages made me unique. I am placed in a position that other aspiring students of medicine won’t be able to easily follow, unless they grew up in a setting similar to mine. As medical sciences advance, especially along technologies involving genetics, I think I would be able to easily understand how variations in human genetic make up was shaped by the extremely varied lifestyle and culture of people around the world.
The day I decided to become a doctor was the Christmas when I received my first doll… a Doctor Barbie doll. It was a pediatrician Barbie doll that is equipped with her very own built-in stethoscope that exudes a “lub-dup” sound every time you press the little button on the center. I liked the “lub-dup” sound that I heard from Barbie’s stethoscope so I told myself, “I want to be like her”.
I spent the rest of my childhood pretending I was a doctor every chance I get. I gave self-prescriptions of “an apple a day keeps my whining away” to hoard fruits from our fridge and I perform make-believe treatment procedures to “cure” my brother’s fever. I even tried to inject a home-made syringe to my little sister’s arms but I failed miserably.
As I grew up, I realized that being a doctor is not as easy as making doodles on prescription notes. I learned that I have to memorize inch-thick textbooks and operate months-old cadavers to get pass medical school and that I have to forget the luxury of sleeping to survive medical internship. I tried to absorb all those information and then I asked myself why I want to be a doctor. Do I want to be a doctor just because I want to look glamorous in a lab gown like Barbie or because I want to inject home-made syringes on my sister’s arms?
Most applicants share the same answer of wanting “to help people” every time they are asked why they chose to pursue a career in medicine but I have reasons other than that. Helping people is something that all of us should do regardless of whether we are medical practitioners or not. The reason why I still want to become a doctor is because I know that I have the ability to heal people both physically and emotionally. I will not be contented with just a successful heart surgery. A great doctor, for me, is one who knows how to heal patients from the inside. I want to have that opportunity to help people have another shot at life. I like to make them laugh and feel good about themselves.
I have done my research on the academic system of this school and I was really impressed by the curriculum. Conceptualizing a curriculum that features balance between the theoretical and practical aspects of medicine, I think, is simply amazing. The main reason why I applied for a slot in this medical school is because I think this will give me the best opportunity to improve my education. I’m determined to be a doctor and unlike Barbie, I’m willing to go through all the obstacles on the way to an “M.D.”.