"Describe a meaningful experience in your life. Reflect on how that experience influenced your personal growth, such as your attitudes or perceptions."
I woke up disgruntled at a hospital
One of the scariest moments of my life happened in 7th grade. It was a typical Sunday, I was at a family gathering when I started feeling sick and nauseous. Before I knew it, I was off to the emergency room. The next day I woke up disgruntled at Joe DiMaggio's Children's Hospital; I was fatigued, but alive. At first, the doctors weren't sure what was wrong with me. Their predictions ranged from mono to leukemia. This scary ordeal kept me in the hospital for over two weeks. After seeing three specialists, a liver biopsy was recommended, and I was eventually diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis. While my friends were getting out of school and starting their summers, I had just been diagnosed with a disorder that would require me to be on medication for the rest of my life. Not exactly how I envisioned spending my 7th grade summer.
Reflecting on this as a 23-year-old, a lot has changed. Even though my illness is still the same, what's changed is my perception. Throughout the years I've come to realize that every obstacle is another opportunity waiting to be uncovered. This quote comes to mind, "Things happen for us, not to us". The things that happened for me through my illness were learning how to be more empathetic and learning how to be grateful which has allowed me to take action towards the things that I want in my life.
I am a more empathetic person because of my time as a patient. My experience taught me how important it is to have support during trying times. As a child, that support and compassion is typically shown through nurses and other hospital employees. Looking back at how impactful their care and thoughtfulness was for me, makes me want to reciprocate that for others. As a physical therapist I can choose to go beyond the job and use the opportunity to care for patients as a whole. I truly believe that patient care is rooted in caring for patients fully, beyond their diagnosis. It is easy to forget that patients who need to see physical therapy are not just dealing with this one situation but many other problems in their life. I want to make their experience a positive one because I know the effect it has had on me. When I worked with patients who were stuck in the hospital for months at a time, or have been abused, or had issues with depression, I felt an obligation to make their experience as positive as possible. Empathy has allowed me to do that.
Dealing with chronic illness and the challenges it brings has taught me to be grateful for my circumstances. While AIH is something I must always be mindful of, I have never felt limited by it. Not everyone has this luxury as they may be hindered physically or mentally. This gratitude has made me realize that I have the ability to do something about my circumstances - take action. I have taken initiative with myself to become more involved with my health, nutrition, self-development and giving back to my community which subsequently have become important and enjoyable parts of my life. Becoming a physical therapist gives me the opportunity to reshape how people feel about their circumstances. I want to use my knowledge and perspective to connect and inspire patients to take control of their disease/limitations. Working alongside a therapist at North Florida Regional Medical center I have come to realize that I have the secondary skills to be a great therapist - patience, integrity, and diligence. I had the luxury of working with a therapist at North Florida Regional Medical center who exhibited all of these values while she worked and the patients absolutely took notice. I aspire to be the physical therapist who takes these values and incorporates them into their actions.
It was the treatment I received from the medical staff at Joe DiMaggio's Children's hospital that solidified my fate to work in healthcare. I want to be the professional whose care inspires others to pursue physical therapy and other health related careers. I believe I have the certainty and personality traits necessary to begin that journey. By incorporating a holistic approach to the human body and mind I wish to help others live more healthy, positive, and fulfilling lifestyles.
Any final critiques would be appreciated. I've had a couple people tell me the last sentence of the second paragraph is a little confusing (the things that happened for me...). I also would like feedback on the second to last paragraph. Im concerned that I may be deviating from the "gratitude" perception even though I try to tie in that it has made me take more action in my life in general. Thank you.