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Wash U St. Louis - University Scholars Program in Medicine essay


taintedlove21 2 / 5  
Jan 10, 2010   #1
I wrote this essay a while back, and have fixed it a bit since then, but I'd love to get some feedback on it before the deadline on Friday.

Explain why you are interested in pursuing a career in medicine. Describe any life experiences that may have sparked this interest, as well as any personal attributes that make you especially suited for a medical career.

Word count: 732 -- no word limit is given; the only requirement is that the essay should be about a page. I'm not sure if they mean single-spaced or double-spaced, but mine's about a page single-spaced.

I first became interested in medicine in the third grade, when, on the first day of classes, I noticed the boy sitting next to me. Frail and thin-boned, he struggled with every movement, finding even the simplest tasks, like holding a pencil, difficult. As I observed him over the next few days, I learned that he was not strong enough to run, and he walked with a slow, jerky gait that seemed to cause him pain with every step. As if these hindrances were not enough, he had trouble with his hearing and vision as well as a learning disability. As I watched him progress, offering him what assistance I could, I could not help but put myself inside David's shoes. How did it feel, not having the freedom to leap across sidewalks and run across the playground with ease? What physical condition could be so merciless? What about this condition caused David's body to function differently from my own? Little did I know then that I was asking myself questions that many doctors and researchers were also puzzling over. For the time being, the best I could do for David was to help him with his schoolwork, but that year, I resolved to learn more about his condition so that I could improve life for individuals like him in the future.

Although we went our different ways, I did not forget David. I discovered later that he was born with Progressive External Opthalmoplegia (PEO), a mitochondrial disorder characterized primarily by weakened muscular development. Every day after school towards the end of sixth grade, I would type the sophisticated words into the Internet toolbar, attempting to understand what little I could about the debilitating disorder that had afflicted my former classmate. I eventually turned to my introductory biology classes in the seventh and ninth grades, which introduced me to a litany of genetic disorders with stories as moving as David's. I remember most vividly a video that I watched in ninth grade about a child with Tay-Sachs disease. Listening to the parents' sincere voices as they described their child's rapid regression from bright-eyed and attentive to vegetative and unresponsive within the child's first year, I was astounded to learn that these diseases were caused by some of the smallest genetic errors. How could such miniscule biological mistakes cause such mammoth changes in the lives of individuals? My understanding of the intersection between our genetic makeup and our day-to-day lives taught me that for every roadblock in a person's life, every offering of aid could help the person move around that roadblock. This philosophy led me to explore the world of hospital service, which I treasure not only for its first-hand insight into the medical profession, but also for the spirit of love and charity that it brings to so many people.

Whenever I assist patients at the local hospital, I always remember the fragile boy in third grade, and I am satisfied to know that I have fulfilled my initial "promise" to him. I may not have learned everything there is to know about his specific condition, but I have, in my own way, helped to make life easier for people struggling with illness. I can especially recall the elderly lady to whom I made my longest visit as a volunteer. Her body was incredibly stiff, she seemed immobile, and she had trouble communicating with me. I remember shifting my stance awkwardly as I wondered how I might convey to her that I wanted to help, and how I might help her. I resolved to teach her some simple exercises in a way she might best understand--by doing them myself. I had initially become nervous when she did not follow along the first few times, but when her arms finally began to move in succession with mine, I was relieved. I walked out of that visit without the precise knowledge of the lady's condition, but I knew that even by my small effort, I had helped her to establish her ability to exercise. With every serve that I offer to a patient as a volunteer, be it an exercise lesson or simply a magazine to read, I am helping the patient to win the fight against illness. Medicine, to me, is not only understanding an individual's afflictions, but participating in them, standing side-by-side with the patient in his or her battle.

Thanks for any suggestions!
yang 2 / 313  
Jan 11, 2010   #2
Good job! This is very nicely written and answers the question perfectly.

However, I do like to point out that you have a rather strange way of paragraphing. You don't have an intro or conclusion right? There's nothing wrong with it if that's what you want to do with your essay.

About your question on the page thing, it's really not a big deal as long as in single-spaced form you do not exceed say, 1 and 1/3 of a page.

Oh, one last comment, from your last sentence and the rest of your essay, you seem to be more aiming for a nursing career than becoming a doctor, am I completely off track?
badromance 1 / 18  
Jan 11, 2010   #3
This is a great essay! I like how you utilize the example and tie it in to your conclusion discussing your interest in medicine!

please edit my essay if you get a chance!
OP taintedlove21 2 / 5  
Jan 11, 2010   #4
Oh, one last comment, from your last sentence and the rest of your essay, you seem to be more aiming for a nursing career than becoming a doctor, am I completely off track?

I actually do want to be a doctor. I'm not sure how to make that more clear, though -- I had originally written a few sentences about research I did over the summer, but I took that out because I didn't want to just introduce something and then not be able to expand it into a separate paragraph. I wonder if there's a way I can tie in the fact that I want to be a doctor into my last paragraph. Hospital volunteers generally aren't qualified to do diagnoses and things, but I figured I'd put that experience into my essay because it fits the patient care side of medicine.

Any thoughts?

Thanks for the comments!
yang 2 / 313  
Jan 11, 2010   #5
I had originally written a few sentences about research I did over the summer, but I took that out because I didn't want to just introduce something and then not be able to expand it into a separate paragraph.

yea, don't

well, I thought that because you emphasize that you really liked to care about people on a very daily basis and physical level, like doing things for them and helping them do things they couldn't by themselves, which is very like nursing.

However, I totally understand that for a high school senior, you prob won't have a bunch of research papers and experience in doctor duties, so your essay is perfectly fine the way it is. You've shown enough interest in medicine and most importantly, a heart to help, and that's really what the school's looking for. After all, you don't really have to declare a major until second year, so they won't care so much about what exact major you're aiming at.


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