My path to medicine
I am not sure which was more dreadful to hear in a high school band room filled with teenagers: the fact that a band alumnus had passed away days before his twenty-first birthday or the fact that his cause of death remained unknown. [Name], a gentle giant, had guided me throughout my high school career and I considered him the older brother I never had. It was in that silent band room that my interest in forensic science began. Frustrated and angry with the inconclusive report on [name]'s death, I began to immerse myself into the methodologies of the combined fields of the justice system and science. After high school, I advanced to university and majored in Forensic Science with a concentration in Biology.
For two years, I remained aware and disappointed of the lack of resources provided for those looking to major in the field of forensic science. Along with two academic colleagues, [ Organization Name ] was created to bring resources, career connections, academic tutoring, and academic advising to others within the major. It was through this organization that I developed the skills to lead bi-weekly meetings, communicate with outside officials and convey important information and resources to my fellow peers. As leaders on campus, it became vital to express leadership in the community as well. Volunteer events such as [event] and events with [food pantry] allowed members to gain hands on experience in improving living conditions across the city.
I had seemingly successfully convinced myself and everyone around me that I was going to be a forensic science investigator. Until my godmother, the woman who treated me as her own and helped raise me, suffered a stroke while driving on the highway. Walking into the intensive care unit that afternoon reproduced a similar gut-wrenching feeling I had experienced years earlier as a teen. As I sat in my godmother's room, I watched her doctors work with levels of integrity, compassion, and determination I had never seen before. I found myself envious of their ability to actively help and critically think. The medical decision making process began to intrigue me as they diagnosed my godmother with [rare disease]. With every visit from the doctors, I bombarded them with several questions at once. Graceful and calculated with each answer, it became clear to me that being a doctor requires more than just knowledge alone. It requires tolerance and the willingness to communicate.
My interest in medicine was further solidified a year later by my own personal ailment in which my views of medicine were challenged. I had developed debilitating abdominal pain that often led to missed work shifts and missed classes. In my search for an answer, I had seen seven family medicine physicians, two gastroenterology specialists, and two obstetrics and gynecology specialists. Throughout the eleven visits, my symptoms were dismissed without workups as nothing more than "a poor diet", "unfamiliarity with your menstrual cycle", "dramatics", and "an excuse to get out of work". The visits often left me feeling powerless and frustrated in my health and the practices of these providers. The unwillingness to listen and lack of kindness was much different than my previous experiences and discouraged my interest in medicine. Was this the field I so desperately wanted to enter? Despite this, I continued to push myself in the search for another physician. My search finally led me to [Dr.'s name], an obstetrics and gynecology specialist. My first visit with her was based on her commitment to build trust and a connection. Leading with compassion, patience, and her excitement to help me understand, I was later diagnosed with a ten-centimeter teratoma on my right ovary that was beginning to cause ovarian torsion. Shortly after my diagnosis, the teratoma was removed by [Dr.'s name]. My experience with one physician who was willing to listen, have empathy, and explain everything heavily outweighed every bad experience I had prior.
As a scribe in a local emergency room, I recognize that my position is one of privilege that allows me to observe physician-patient encounters firsthand. The results of effective communication and listening are apparent and long-lasting. Sighs of relief and smiles from patients when they realize their physician or scribe speaks Spanish is a sight often witnessed. I have never been more excited to help interpret if it means that the patient is no longer frightened and alone in the emergency room. The interactions between patients and physicians is more than one based on just science. It is one also based on empathy, trust and understanding of health disparities. Interning at my county's morgue linked my interests in forensic science and medicine. Holding a human brain for the first-time evoked such admiration for life and the biological processes that keep us alive. My time at the morgue strengthened my deep respect for the deceased as I no longer viewed them as simply that. These were people who had meaningful experiences and memories and it was up to me to ensure that they were treated with the same dignity and respect as the living.
My path to medicine has not always been clear. However, as I reflect on the moments that have led me here, I am nothing but fortunate and grateful. I am confident that the effects of interactions with doctors, opportunities to be a source of comfort, and a deep appreciation for the living and the deceased have all solidified my interest and commitment to the field of medicine.