I walked cautiously into the hospital room after knocking on the door. Suddenly, I was confronted with a middle-aged male that wore a peculiar expression on his face. On the left side, he wore a small smile. Its counterpart was more difficult to interpret. His right eye was partially closed. The corner of his mouth drooped giving the appearance of disdain. I was confounded. I had only been given a name and room number — I had no idea what was happening! He sat comfortably on the reclining chair beside his bed. I called his name tentatively and he acknowledged my presence with a loud “Hello!”. I briefly introduced myself and proceeded with my opening questionnaire: How are you feeling? Have you noticed any new symptoms? Has there been any improvement?
Prompted by my questioning, he referred some persistent right-sided ear pain. For the first time, I noticed a small white mass protruding from his right ear. He explained he had clumped a small amount of sanitary paper to keep the continuous secretions at bay. Upon closer inspection, not only were the secretions soaking through the makeshift earplug, but the entire right side of his face was motionless as he spoke. This was in stark contrast to the energetic nature conveyed by the opposite half. After concluding the interaction, I reviewed his medical record for more information intrigued by what I had seen. He had been diagnosed with a malignant otitis externa that was subsequently complicated by development of a skull base osteomyelitis by the Otolaryngology service. It was this inquisitive nature that eventually led me to the Otolaryngology residency.
I seized the opportunity to get to know this patient and understand his pathology. As a result, I delved more deeply into the field. I attended didactic activities, outpatient clinics, and the operating room, gaining further exposure. Consequently, I discovered a variety of complex pathologies and treatment modalities. This is one of the most important attributes that attracted me — the diversity found within this specialty. I could encounter a patient with vocal cord paresis in one cubicle and an invasive laryngeal cancer in the next. This dynamic nature generated an intellectually stimulating environment.
Additionally, this specialty boasts an ideal balance between clinical and surgical practice. The heterogeneous nature of observed pathologies allows for this. This is one of the most interesting parts of this specialty; it would allow me as a physician to provide a vast spectrum of treatment possibilities. Although counterintuitive due to the small anatomic space, the head and neck also contain essential structures and systems. The intricate anatomy supposes an exciting challenge in terms of surgical management. I’m especially interested in the vast spectrum of surgical modalities, ranging from large-scale to minimally invasive surgery. I’ve always enjoyed using my hands and appreciate the opportunity that this residency offers to integrate this into my career.
Due to the aforementioned characteristics, the Otolaryngology residency requires extensive medical knowledge, surgical skills, effective planning and dedication to patients. Throughout my academic career, I have made it a priority to participate in multiple student associations. Although this was a large amount of responsibility, it allowed me to develop time management skills and the ability to manage a large workload with attention to detail. It strengthened my communication skills in order to facilitate the integration of individual ideas to ultimately accomplish collective goals. Additionally, I participated in various volunteer activities including disaster relief efforts that targeted underserved populations. It helped me gain perspective, improved my ability to understand the barriers to adequate care and made me more aware of difficulties that these populations face on a daily basis. These experiences strengthened my commitment to the improvement of health care services provided to low-income, underserved populations as well as underrepresented minorities. Being bilingual allows me to target these diverse patient populations and facilitate effective and accurate communication between patients and physicians.
Scientific research has also been a formative element of my undergraduate and graduate education. I have participated in multiple research projects in which subject matter has ranged from basic chemistry to clinical studies. Through these experiences, I developed more in-depth understanding of the contribution of research and its impact on daily practice. The continuous generation of relevant and innovative information is important precisely because it influences the decisions made in daily clinical practice. This represents an additional manner in which we can improve quality of care — by contributing to the development of innovative treatment modalities, identification of disease components that allow targeted therapy or comparing efficiency of available therapies. For this reason, I am extremely interested in incorporating scientific research into my residency training and future career.
I am interested in the Otolaryngology residency program at ____________ because I believe the hands-on learning environment that prioritizes teamwork and integrative patient care will allow me to develop into the physician that I desire. I appreciate that the residency program focuses on providing excellent training but also allows opportunities for scientific research and medical education. My goal is to become an otolaryngologist with a focus in academic medicine, community service, and scientific research. I will strive to carry out a practice that prioritizes diversity, cultural awareness, and patient-centered care. I believe that, due to my past experiences, I will continue to develop into a hard-working, dedicated physician that is committed to improving patient well-being in whatever role I fulfill.
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