Personal Statement/Narrative. Please describe your motivation towards becoming a PAI've adapted this essay from my AACOMAS and AMCAS applications (yes, I'm covering all my bases).
Her name was Laura. I sat in front of her, sanitizing her arm and wondering what I could possibly have been thinking when I signed up for a program that involved drawing blood from my fellow students. It might seem insignificant, but when the sight of a needle causes dizziness, enrolling in a program that involves being stuck twice a week is far more difficult than it sounds. The photo of the aftermath from the worst phlebotomy in the twenty-plus years of the program, a wrist to bicep hematoma, had not helped matters. It did, however, succeed in convincing me that I was going to totally destroy her vein when I passed out with the needle in her arm.
Finally, after palpating the vein for the eighth time, I came to a conclusion: I could sit there with the needle in my hand thinking about it all day, or I could do it. Shortly after taping the gauze in place, I began wondering why I had ever had a problem.
Laboratory medicine had first presented itself as a choice of profession during my medical microbiology class at Tennessee Tech. My original choice had proved to be impractical, and I was without direction beyond completing my biochemistry degree when my professor, a former medical technologist, made the field sound incredibly appealing. I approached her after class one day, and she recommended Austin Peay's program.
Once at Austin Peay (and shortly after defeating my phobia) I found the field to be even more interesting than I had hoped. The coursework was some of the most challenging I had faced, but at the same time, I found it to be intuitive. Where I had trouble understanding some biochemical concepts at Tennessee Tech, when the same concepts were put in context, they became clear. Instead of trying to assimilate awkward and abstract principles, the emphasis of Austin Peay's medical technology program was to put the pieces of the puzzle into a complete picture.
Unfortunately, when I reached the actual hospital lab, it failed to live up to my expectations. The work was interesting, but, with the departments being isolated from each other, the picture was once again fragmented, rendering about ninety percent of my studies in the field pointless. The failure of the life-cycle of every human parasite to make appearances in my daily life had not been completely unexpected, but the irrelevance of the coagulation cascade certainly had.
I began to consider other options. Specialization had a certain appeal, especially in blood bank. It might lack the big picture, but its detachment from the rest of the lab provided a very complete smaller picture. Another option was research. Pharmaceutical research would involve a big picture of how medications impacted a body, but two former research assistants in the Austin Peay program informed me that in their experience, the big picture was almost always the same. The last option that appealed to me was to branch into a different field altogether. Forensic science had always interested me, and medical technologists are in demand in that field, but one of my other classmates had come from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's lab and had declared it to be the most monotonous job he'd held. The same was true for people I talked to in histology.
Eventually, I came to the realization that ther only people who received the whole picture of each patient were clinicians. If I really wanted to see it all, I was going to have to go beyond the lab.
I began to research the choice. While I had talked to a variety of medical technologists before entering the profession, all of them were in academia, and had been there for some time. This time, I thought it might be better to talk to people currently in the field. While I could not expect to gain anything like a complete understanding of what the profession entails, what I gathered from those I talked to was enough to convince me that I had finally found a way to get the fullest view of a patient available.
With that decision, I arrived at the same point that I had with a needle in my hand for the first time: either I could sit at the bench for forty years thinking about it, or I could just do it. Deciding and planning were all well and good, but eventually I had to commit to action.
Now, I find myself facing the second challenge since I made the commitment to pursue greater clinical involvement. I can only hope to overcome this and the future challenges I will undoubtedly face with the same level of success which accompanied that first draw.Thanks for any and all input!