When I was a young child, Aunt Aklima was my largest role model and my inspiration. I can vividly recall the day she miraculously survived a car crash. For several months, every day was a battle to recover from multiple fractures, internal bleeding, and head trauma. I would visit her three times weekly, and I was amazed by the medical staff. They were so compassionate and empathetic, supporting her during physical therapy while she tried to regain her strength, offering assistance in pain control and providing care that gradually improved her quality of life, that they inspired me to want to make a similar difference in patients’ lives, too.
Throughout medical school, I have come to love that internal medicine is a continuous learning process involving critical thinking and intellectual stimulation that provokes endless curiosity. For instance, we saw a 44-year-old African American male in the outpatient clinic. Abdominal pain radiating to the back was his chief complaint, and I immediately thought of acute pancreatitis. However, a thorough history and physical examination revealed a pulsating abdominal mass. We had a strong clinical suspicion of an abdominal aneurysm, which the CT scan confirmed. His operative repair was successful. The challenges of working with patients of varying ages and demographics are equally enticing, like the 28-year-old male who presented with difficulty breathing and actually had hereditary angioedema, and the elderly female who presented with dizziness and an episode of fall who had orthostatic hypotension.
My internal medicine rotations had diverse patient populations, many of them suffering from chronic conditions. At multiple nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, I listened to their struggles and began understanding how patients face, fight through and sometimes overcome their illness. My favorite part was building rapport with them. The patient with SAPHO syndrome, suffering from bilateral shoulder and knee pain, looked forward to seeing me every Wednesday, when I would check on her. Just spending time with her listening to her concerns provided the moral support she sought, and eventually she was motivated to begin physical therapy. The privilege of being a part of the team that provided care to these patients and made a difference in their lives drove home my passion for internal medicine.
I moved to the United States in 2016, my third year of medical school, to complete all my clinical rotations. I wanted to be familiar with the rigors of becoming a physician here and get acquainted with the medical setting and advanced technology and investigational tools. I had always studied hard and strived to obtain a good standing in my class, even earning an Academic Certificate of Excellence in medical school. While preparing for Step 1, I used numerous study materials, but realized that this approach was inefficient after receiving a disappointing score. Initially discouraged, I regrouped for Step 2 CK and became more efficient by focusing on quality resources. I scored249 on the exam and passed Step 2 CS on my first attempt.
I have completed 72 weeks of clinical rotations, including 28 weeks in internal medicine, cardiology, and allergy and asthma. Collaborating with many medical students, residents, and faculty in patient care has been rewarding and made me excited for the next step in my career path. There was a 65-year-old female who presented for a follow-up visit in the clinic after undergoing a biopsy for a breast mass. On the biopsy report, the mass was cancerous, and we had to break this news to her empathetically. Although my role was to observe my attending, I learned how the SPIKE protocol worked. I always feel the push to continue learning and improve, and I seek a program that will challenge me further. I would like one that will offer diverse exposure in helping me build on my interpersonal skills and clinical knowledge. I am excited for morning rounds with my team, tackling demanding situations and individualized healthcare challenges, and performing procedures, such as central line catheters and lumbar puncture, to enhance my clinical skills. I look forward to learning from my staff, co-residents and attendings while functioning as a supportive team member, hopefully focusing on patients in the inpatient setting. My long-term goals include serving as a hospitalist in a skilled facility, ensuring optimum care for my patients.
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