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Difficult Adversity Essay, "each of these patients helps me grow professionally"


mary92 1 / -  
Dec 1, 2009   #1
Prompt: Describe the most difficult adversity you have faced, and describe how you dealt with it.

It was my third week as a volunteer in the cancer center and everything was going great. I understood the filing process, formed friendships with the nurses and was finally able to get to my station without having to ask for directions. During that week a new patient had come to our floor and I was eager to help her. Her name was Dorothy* and she ended up helping me more than I helped her.

I first entered Dorothy's room to refill the jug of water. It was the tenth room I visited during my rounds that day, and at first glance it seemed like all the other rooms with plain white walls, a medium blue curtain that divided the room and a window with a view of the parking lot. Only the person in the bed was different. Dorothy was a 54 year-old Caucasian female with breast cancer. The nurses had warned me that she might be a little difficult to handle. So I walked in with a big smile and asked her how her day was. She sarcastically replied that it was wonderful. I was a bit surprised but I kept my smile and tried to keep up a positive mood. But each of my attempts to comfort her was futile and shot down by cynicism. The next time I came to her room, I was determined to help her. But this time she switched from cynicism to criticism. She criticized everything from the quality of my work to my appearance. Each criticism felt like a punch in the gut and I struggled to remain professional. I knew that Dorothy was dealing with a tough time and so I was more angry with myself for not being able to handle this situation than I was at her. After I excused myself, I went to one of the nurses and begged for advice. She told me that there are going to be many difficult patients and that it will take time to be able to deal with situations like these.

After that experience I spent many days reflecting if becoming a doctor is really my dream. Should I go for something where I will not disappoint other people? But while I was pondering this I realized that even superman has disappointed people and that my experience with Dorothy should not hinder my love of this field. Rather it should make it stronger because now I will be ready for the bad aspects of this job. I wish I could say that after my self-reflection, I was able to connect Dorothy and formed a strong friendship with her, but I cannot. Dorothy was transferred to another hospital before we could break the barrier between us. Even now, years after Dorothy, I am still dealing with difficult patients, but each of these patients helps me grow professionally.

Feedback will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

maverick288 - / 5  
Dec 2, 2009   #2
Your essay is very insightful into the life of a doctor. I would say you did a good job overall. However, a few suggestions:

When talk about how cynical Dorothy is, when she criticizes you, it would do your essay good if you inserted a couple of conversational examples of what she said and your reaction to it. That would give the reader a more vivid image of what went on.

I know this essay is supposed to be about you and how you feel, but the last paragraph sounds like a turn-off to me. You admit that you dissapoint people and seem to not be able to do anything about it. You highlight the "bad aspects" of your job. The reader may not be very impressed and may think you have simply settled for this field out of an obligation. I would phrase it a little differently.

I would say that although Dorothy was difficult and her angst may have sourced from a mix of personal and medical factors, I still feel that I did all I could to connect with her as a patient. You treated her with care, and did not discriminate her based on her unpleasant attitude. Unfortunately, she was transferred and while you are sorry you were unsuccessful in breaking the barrier, you knew you did your job as a doctor. Of course, you accepted the fact that patients are difficult, but you realized that the best solution is to continue to act out of professional love, an ability innate to a doctor.

Hope that helps!
EF_Susan - / 2,365 12  
Dec 2, 2009   #3
Your essay is going well, but I did find a few things;

...at first glance it seemed like all the other rooms with plain white walls, a medium blue curtain that divided the room and a window with a view of the parking lot. Only the person in the bed was different...different from what?? This needs to be revised for clarity, as it seems like you're saying she was different from white walls and blue curtains. Different from the other patients?

After that experience I spent many days reflecting on whether becoming a doctor was really my dream.

...I was able to connect with Dorothy and formed a strong friendship with her, but I cannot.


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