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.