Monthly Archives: November 2006

selling myself

I interviewed today at my home institution, and it went really well. I really got the feeling they want me to stay here, and truthfully, if location was not a factor, I would stay in a second. As it is, I’m thinking pretty hard about it. There is something to be said for not having to pack up my house, find a new place to live, move there, find the grocery store and post office, find childcare, and that is not even taking into account my husband finding a job. Big decisions loom ahead.

One of the things the program director said to me in my interview with him was that he was really moved by my personal statement, and that my statement stood out from others he had read. I worked really hard on it so I was very pleased to get that piece of feedback. I thought I would share it here with a few minor revisions. I think it gets to the core of what kind of physician I want to be, which is really the goal of a personal statement, isn’t it? I’d love to hear what you all think.

Personal Statement for Internal Medicine

I was fifteen when I decided I wanted to be a doctor. I was learning for the first time about organic molecules, and I was completely fascinated by their complex interactions. It seems almost mundane now but at the time the relationships between nucleic acids, proteins, and enzymes were the most amazing things I had ever encountered. I had always wanted to enter a profession in which I could make a difference in people’s lives, and medicine seemed to combine that desire along with the science I had newly discovered. My love for biology and the intricacy of life was reinforced immeasurably in college with my advanced biology courses, and I couldn’t wait to get to medical school and learn the ways in which all those courses applied to the human body.

Eleven years later, I am a fourth year medical student on my emergency medicine rotation. A man is brought into our emergency department with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He had been airlifted from a rural county and had no identification on him. I watched as he was stripped, examined, and scanned, and I thought about how sad and alone he must have felt to do such a thing. Forty minutes after entering our doors, he died in a room full of strangers with tubes sprouting from his body and monitors beeping. At some point, someone called out “Do we know this guy’s name yet?” Someone answered in the affirmative, and said he had just been discharged a few weeks ago from our hospital. They said his name, and I can honestly say it was one of the greatest shocks I have experienced. It was a man who had been on my service during my month-long general medicine acting internship. Afterwards, I studied his face, looking for something familiar, but among the swelling and blood I saw only a hint of the man I had known.

It took me days to realize why I was so upset about this man’s death, above and beyond the sad circumstances surrounding it. In our team’s interactions with this patient, we had never suspected he was capable of such an act. I wondered if there was anything we could have said or done differently to uncover his desperation while he was under our care. This got me thinking about the original reasons I wanted to go into medicine, primarily my desire to make a difference in people’s lives. I wondered about the many patients I have taken care of over the last few years, and what effect I had on them, or if I had any effect at all. My experience in the emergency department made me realize why internal medicine is the ideal choice of specialty for me. Along with the chance to study and manage disease processes affecting all organ systems and facets of a patient’s life, I will have the chance to build strong relationships with my patients and perhaps make a crucial difference in their lives. I don’t know if there was anything that could have been done to prevent our patient from ending his own life, but witnessing his death reinforced my determination to always make the effort to reach out to my patients and consider the state of their emotional as well as physical health.

As a third year medical student, I had a lot of time to spend with patients. I always made an effort to make sure the people I was taking care of understood their illness and felt confident in their treatment, and spending time with my patients in that context was immensely satisfying to me. I believe that my interactions with my patients are as important as the prescriptions I write for them. For me, internal medicine provides the opportunity to serve as a physician trained to manage all aspects of medical care in adults, and who can also establish a strong personal relationship with patients. I find it as rewarding to improve a patient’s blood sugar control as it is to help them manage their stress, and I hope to do both equally well in my practice.


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not so idle hands…

Life has intervened for a while in the form of interviews, travel, and a son who has been teething for about two months straight. Here is a picture from our Christmas card photo shoot today.


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who is Athanasius Kircher?

I came across The Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society a while ago, and it has become a steady source of not-quite amusement but certainly curiosity, and a trove of trivial facts suitable for impressing colleagues and inspiring eye-rolls from your friends. It turns out Athanasius Kircher was a German Jesuit scholar in the 17th century, who studied (among other things) language (including hieroglyphics), natural phenomena such as earthquakes and volcanos, and medicine. The Athanasius Kircher society “was chartered to perpetuate the spirit and sensibilities of the late Athanasius Kircher, SJ. Our interests extend to the wondrous, the curious, the singular, the esoteric, the arcane, and the sometimes hazy frontier between the plausible and the implausible — anything that Father Kircher might find cool if he were alive today.”

Their website is filled with information about things like security coffins, unusual cloud formations, and the World’s Largest Collection of World’s Smallest Versions of World’s Largest Things (part of the Lesser Known Museum Week, of course). Go visit, you’ll be educated, amazed, maybe horrified, but probably not bored.

For more information on Father Kircher, Wikipedia seems to be a good place to start. Standard grain-of-salt warning applies.

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One Deep Breath: Haibun

Behind the bleached curtains, the sterile sheets, beyond the harsh fluorescent atmosphere, her body lingered. Her hair was red, and the face in her school picture was pretty. The nurse said her mother had to drive several hours to our hospital, and they weren’t going to break the news until she arrived. I passed a few of her friends in the hallway, they looked serious and self-conscious, still children and out of their element. She was alone in the car, they said, and the road was slippery with rain.

your child is never
old enough to say goodbye
bow your head and wail

bear witness to pain
in these moments of pure grief
compassion is born

Thanks to One Deep Breath.


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A meme for me

I’ve never done one of these before, but this is a good one. Here are the rules:

1. Grab the nearest book.

2. Open the book to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the next four sentences on your blog, along with these instructions.

5. Don’t dig for the “coolest” book in your closet! Fess up to the pulpy (and delicious) novel you have sitting on the coffee table!

Here is mine, from Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. This is a novel I’ve read a few times and never seem to remember the details of the plot, just the overall mood of the story which is foggy and wistful. I recommend it.

” Them Japanese couldn’t own land,” said Etta. “So I don’t see how them Miyamotos could think they owned ours. They-“

“Mrs. Heine,” said the judge. “Excuse me one more time.”

Thanks to Fat Doctor for this!

On the topic of books, I’m on a bit of an Isabel Allende kick. I read Daughter of Fortune first, which I really enjoyed. Right now I’m working on Eva Luna which is just charming. There are a lot of characters that manage to be interesting without feeling contrived. Next in line is Zorro. REALLY looking forward to that one!


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I fully intended to participate in NaBloPoMo, which began on November 1. I had been mentally preparing myself for it for a week. It was like a little pep rally in my head (You CAN post every day!) minus the cheerleaders because I’m sort of morally opposed to them. And then yesterday I realized November 1 had come and gone. Doh!

So I’m beginning my NaBloPoMo now, a few days late and more than a few dollars short. I’m hoping the internal pep rally succeeds and I have enough interesting things to talk about to make this worth reading. If all else fails, I do have a ridiculously adorable baby son. They say a picture is worth a thousand words…


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One Deep Breath: Unseen

I’m amazed by some of the haikus this week. They’ve really inspired me! Everyone writes these lovely poems so soon after the prompt is posted, and it takes me so long to get it right in my head. I’m glad to be in the presence of so many talented writers!


the tides of my heart

ebb with your pulses, my love

echoes in the dark



I cannot prove love

cryptic slippery ghostly

heavy but silent



slide under my skin,

boy child, spin in my belly,

a hidden promise


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