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"To Understand and Be Understood" - Why do you want to pursue a career in the medical field?


DancingDoc 1 / 4  
May 26, 2009   #1
To Understand and Be Understood

by Lisa

The corridors of Autumn Care feel strangely familiar. Aged faces graciously greet me, though occasional fixed glares of loneliness and tiredness are evident. Yet each of them remains hopeful. Some anticipate their family's visit while others anxiously await their release from the constraints of the care center, or from life itself. The usual stale odor permeates the air. As I wander down the halls, I observe fresh faces and a new, unmarked layer of yellow paint polishing the walls. It's a calming color with ocean, sand and sea grass illustrated on the foreground. I shake hands with some people, hug others and catch up on lost time. They enlighten me on the latest happenings in their home - who has died, who has been released, and who has been flirting with the nursing staff. I sit myself beside an old friend, Jane Marie. Jane is a lonely forty-seven year old woman constrained to a wheel chair from partial paralysis due to strokes. Her mother has died and the remainder of her family had neglected her several years ago. Though not only does she feel neglected from her family, she also feels neglected from her doctor, and the lack of proper care she is receiving at the home. She expresses concerns over the lack of interest her doctor seems to have for her well-being and his reluctance to listen to her. We chat for a few hours as I try to console her and care for her non-medical needs as best as I can. Remembering my main reason for coming to the nursing home, I hug Jane goodbye and promise to see her again soon.

"Room 116: Elenear Brightfield and Gloria Lin." A star is placed beside their names to indicate their affliction with Alzheimer's, and to remind employees to remain alert of their possible wandering from the center's grounds. I peer into the room for a few brief seconds only to observe a few unfamiliar faces in their beds. I walk back outside.

I sit myself down in a white wooden rocker found on the front porch. The light from the setting sun scatters on the patio's bricks. A small-statured lady, fragile and ghostly in appearance ironically begins to sing one of my grandmother's favorite songs: "Blue Skies" by Frank Sinatra. I want to believe that my grandmother is singing to me through this woman's voice. As I sit in the over-sized chair, the lady's voice starts to fade as I begin to reminisce. . .

"Oh my God . . . she's having a seizure!" the nurse cries out in panic as though seizures are a very foreign case to her. Dashing for the door, she mutters "Let me run (and) get a doctor!" I safeguard my grandmother in the chair and by the time the doctor and nurse returns, my grandmother's bout of convulsions ends. She regains a normal state of consciousness though remains extremely fatigued and perplexed. "Her MRI shows that she's had multiple mini-strokes and this one would be considered moderate" reports the doctor a few days later. He prescribes medication to decrease her risk of further strokes.

In about a week's time, my grandmother is back on her feet with the usual help of her walker and tennis balls. We reach the end of the corridor, turn around, and go back. We reach the tomato plants at the end of the sidewalk, turn around, and go back. We know to replace the tennis balls when her walker begins to rattle and make a distinct "screeeeech" sound. We sit outside for an hour, singing classical Frank Sinatra tunes and receive the attention by many. We sit together as she eats her meals slowly, and on occasion, unwillingly. She forgets how to eat every now and then, and eventually forgets how to walk, swallow and even sing.

The voice of the frail lady on the sunlit porch reappears. As she sings, "Blue Skies, smiling at me, nothing but blue skies, do I see", I can only think of how appropriate that song is as North Carolina skies are amongst the most beautiful I've ever seen.

As I visited my grandmother as well as the other patients of Autumn Care over the years, I finally realized that my niche lied within a medical career - and I was particularly interested in the work of a physician's. I believe my reasons for wanting to pursue a medical career are multifaceted. Listening to friends like Jane Marie as patients in despair, I could only sit beside them and comfort them through non-medical means. However, as merely a young college student, I was absolutely incapable in improving their medical condition. The lack of some doctor's empathy and professionalism in the nursing home combined with my powerlessness to provide for my grandmother and my friends' medical care caused me great anguish and frustration. However, this also led to my newfound interest in the complexity of science, medicine, and health care delivery.

With daily visits to Autumn Care for a period of years, I couldn't help but learn extensively on some of the most intriguing yet devastating and prevalent diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease, Heart Disease, Cancer, and ? Disease. Although I didn't enjoy learning the harsh realities of my friends' suffering, I found myself very inquisitive about each condition, unique in their own nature - from causes to symptoms to treatment options to side effects. Some weekends were spent entirely with my grandmother and my friends at the nursing home listening fervently to stories related to their progression of illness, their latest prognosis, their new treatment, and their present state of health. Though as I listened to my grandmother and my friends in grave conditions over the years, I learned most importantly what patients valued most - to be heard and understood.

Once I began to realize that a doctor's work was many-fold, I was convinced that a medical career was best suited for me. I was very attracted to the idea that the greatest doctors do not merely serve as doctors but also serve as effective listeners, conversationsists, and most importantly, as companions. Aside from making knowledgeable, well-informed decisions on the proper treatment for their patients, the best doctor's whole heart is put into their work for optimal results. As I listen to my friends as patients with analogous concerns, I realize the importance of doctors listening with an emphatic ear and considering their patients' wants, needs, and fears. The best doctors meet the needs of their patients by taking interest in not only providing proper medical treatment but in taking an active position to understand the patient, including their background, lifestyle, thoughts, fears, and apprehensions. The possibility of acknowledging patients as people is also what intrigued me about medicine. Over the years, I realized that my grandmother and my friends valued my conversation and companionship, and I believe that although I could not medically treat them, I gave them the best medicine they could have received - I listened.

Medicine is a highly respected and regarded field. Medicine is also a field which allows for people of compassion, kind-heartedness, and effective listening to utilize their natural abilities to treat others. Because of these qualities I believe to possess, I have been inspired to pursue a career in the medical field. Medicine is where I feel I can make the greatest impact, and where I can experience the greatest fulfillment. The nursing home was where I could demonstrate my personable qualities and its impact on people. Ralph G. Nichols once said: "The most basic of all human needs is to understand and to be understood." After spending time in the nursing home, I have learned to value that statement very much.

*to be continued...I will further talk more specifically about why I want to pursue a career in medicine and how this situation relates to my reasons for wanting to become a doctor. Your revisions are greatly appreciated!

*Please suggest additional ideas for revision other than the minor concerns I've mentioned above. Thanks so much!
EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
May 27, 2009   #2
This is very vivid and moving. Just make sure not to go too far in showing off your vocabulary or your writing skill. (See below for examples of how to cut it down.) Also, I'm not sure how much space you have to work with, but you probably should get to the body of the essay -- why you want to pursue a career in medicine -- sooner.

When you make that transition, pay close attention to verb tense. Also be certain your grammar and punctuation are impeccable in that section. What you've shared with us thus far is creative nonfiction. The reviewers of this essay will also want to know that you can write more straightforward prose.
OP DancingDoc 1 / 4  
May 27, 2009   #3
Thank you very much for your advice...it is very helpful. Do you think you have time to look at some of my other paragraphs? Thanks again... -Lisa
EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
May 27, 2009   #4
Yes, when you write the paragraphs about why you want to pursue a career in medicine, feel free to post them here for more feedback.

Since you're such a good creative writer, I'd like to see you hone your own skills by trying to make the ones you've already written more correct and concise, in the manner I indicated with the example paragraph. Feel free to post your revisions.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
May 27, 2009   #5
""Room 116: Elenear Brightfield and Gloria Lin." A star is placed beside their names to indicate their affliction with Alzheimer's and to remind employees to remain alert to their possibly wandering from the center's grounds. I peer into the room for a few brief seconds only to observe two unfamiliar faces in their beds. I walk back outside."

"I sit myself down in a white wooden rocking chair found on the front porch. The light from the setting sun scatters on the patio's bricks. A short, fragile, ghostly-looking ladyironically (word?) begins to sing one of my grandmother's favorite songs: "Blue Skies" by Frank Sinatra. I want to believe that my grandmother is singing to me through this woman's voice. As I sit in the over-sized rocking chair, listening appreciatively to the melody of the lady , I begin to reminisce..."

You're writing is already pretty good. You have few enough errors that you can probably finish revising the essay on your own. Good luck.
OP DancingDoc 1 / 4  
Jun 5, 2009   #6
Thank you in advance for your help! I would like to send this off ASAP once I get some possible revisions made. I'm not sure about a few things, including the title, relevance of ideas, use of tenses, sentence structures, wording, amongst a few others... Please make revisions where seen fit. The more, the merrier! Thank you so much!! -Lisa
Notoman 20 / 419  
Jun 6, 2009   #7
It is late here, but I will take on one paragraph. How about the last one? You said the more revisions the better so I hope you don't mind me nitpicking.

Medicine is a highly respected and regarded field.

Respected and regarded are fairly close synonyms and their use here is redundant and repetitive. (Okay, that was my bad attempt at a joke). There should be a hyphen between two adjectives . . . Either "highly-regarded field" or "highly-respected field."

Medicine is also a field which allows for people of compassion, kind-heartedness, and effective listening to utilize their natural abilities to treat others.

This sentence is a bit awkward and wordy. Again, kind-hearted and compassion are fairly close synonyms. The phrase "natural abilities" might be misread by someone whose job it is to educate medical workers-they'd believe in training over natural abilities. I'd try rewording it to something like this: "A career in medicine allows compassionate people the opportunity to treat others using effective listening and kindness." Actually, I am not so sure about that sentence either. Is this an essay for admissions or for a scholarship? Admissions personnel might consider treating patients with kindness not fully treating them. The word "treat" has the potential for a double meaning here . . . Of course patients want to be treated with kindness, but they also want to be treated with medicine. How about this: "A career in medicine allows compassionate people the opportunity to treat others using effective listening and kindness in addition to medicine."

Because of these qualities I believe to possess, I have been inspired to pursue a career in the medical field.

The first part of this sentence is a bit jumbled. Par down the words and get to the point. "My compassionate nature has compelled me to pursue a career in the medical field."

Medicine is where I feel I can make the greatest impact, and where I can experience the greatest fulfillment.

This sentence could be simplified as well.

The nursing home was where I could demonstrate my personable qualities and its impact on people.

There are issues here with agreement . . . the "its" doesn't work. Try something like: "The nursing home opened my eyes to my ability to impact people with my personable nature."

Good luck with it!
EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
Jun 6, 2009   #8
Verb tense: Beautiful. Very skillful.

Not sure about spending so much time with Jane Marie... so many sentences devoted to someone who does not reappear in the narrative feels like a distracting detour to me. If you want to note that you paused to chat with her, find a way to do it in a single sentence. I'm assuming you've included her in order to set up what you say later about the attentiveness of doctors. That's great. Just do it in a sentence.

My concern about the last paragraph is that it is so weak following such strong writing. Why say that medicine is a highly-regarded field? Surely your readers know that. Are you saying that you want to be a doctor because the field is highly-regarded? I don't think so. So, find some stronger phrase to start that last paragraph: "Doctors [action verb] ..."

Similarly, your last sentence is a weak way to close such a strong essay, "I have learned to value that statement very much." Really? You value the statement? And you want the last thing your reader learns about you to be that you value a particular sentence? I think not. Keep the quote but go on to say something substantial, such as that this is something you'll always remember as you pursue your medical career.
OP DancingDoc 1 / 4  
Jun 6, 2009   #9
Thank you very much Notoman and EF Simone! Your revisions are greatly appreciated and you both make very good points.

Ofcourse, I am still open to other's critiques as well, and I will work on making the changes noted by Notoman and EF Simone. -Lisa
EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
Jun 6, 2009   #10
Lisa -- Don't forget to return the favor by helping other forum users with their essays!

Notoman -- Your critiques are always so thorough and useful! Have you thought about becoming an EF contributor?
Notoman 20 / 419  
Jun 6, 2009   #11
My concern about the last paragraph is that it is so weak following such strong writing. Why say that medicine is a highly-regarded field? Surely your readers know that. Are you saying that you want to be a doctor because the field is highly-regarded? I don't think so. So, find some stronger phrase to start that last paragraph: "Doctors [action verb] ..."

Simone, you are so right. I don't always see the "big picture" when looking at the grammar. This is a very good point. I learn so much from this forum.

Similarly, your last sentence is a weak way to close such a strong essay, "I have learned to value that statement very much." Really? You value the statement? And you want the last thing your reader learns about you to be that you value a particular sentence? I think not. Keep the quote but go on to say something substantial, such as that this is something you'll always remember as you pursue your medical career.

And again, you have nailed a point. This ending was bothering me, but I couldn't put my finger on why. I thought that it was the quote-that the quote was out of place in a personal statement. But now I see it is because valuing the statement is weak.

Have you thought about becoming an EF contributor?

I was planning to apply when I hit a hundred posts.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Jun 6, 2009   #12
You might want to consider just cutting the last paragraph. It doesn't really add anything to your essay, so why keep it? You could just stop at the end of the last paragraph, and the essay would be much stronger. If you absolutely must have a concluding sentence that reminds the admissions officers that you want to be admitted (not that they are likely to need such a reminder), compress your last paragraph down to a single sentence and tack it on to the end of what is currently your penultimate paragraph.
EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
Jun 7, 2009   #13
Sean makes a thought-provoking suggestion. So often, people write what are essentially empty conclusions, just because they feel they should. In so doing, they end up weakening rather than strengthening their work. What I like about this conclusion is that it does make explicit one point that was implicit in the story: The importance of health care providers being compassionate and empathic in addition to being competent. So, if you can find a way to say that more strongly, do so. If not, Sean's suggestion to cut the conclusion may be the way to go.
OP DancingDoc 1 / 4  
Jun 8, 2009   #14
Thanks very much for all of your help. EF Simone: I will gladly critique other's essays on this website. I will do so once I finish with my own writing and sending of my application :) I am actually getting a little late in the process.

My last paragraph has posed a little difficult for me. I cant seem to make it flow smoothly, I guess? I also feel that collectively, the sentences are cut too short. Any suggestions? rewording? adding of words? How about that last sentence? Thanks again. -Lisa

"A career in medicine allows compassionate people the opportunity to treat others using effective listening and kindness, in addition to medicine. My compassionate nature has compelled me to pursue a career in the medical field. Medicine is where I feel I can make the greatest impact and experience the greatest fulfillment. The nursing home opened my eyes to my ability to impact people with my personable nature. Ralph G. Nichols once said: "The most basic of all human needs is to understand and to be understood." This quote is something I will always remember as I pursue a career in the medical field. "


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