As I approached a patient newly admitted for facial cellulitis, the man reached for a small whiteboard on his bedside table. On it he had written, “I cannot hear or talk after battling cancer. Please use this white board to talk with me.” He clutched the whiteboard as if his life depended on it, and it was easy to understand why. There was so much sadness in the one eye he could open because even after completing his antibiotic regimen, this man (who had been fully functional six months prior) would remain deaf, mute, and blind in one eye. At that time, I realized I didn’t just want to treat his cellulitis; I wanted to make sure he felt understood and supported by a capable, caring team. Through the exchange of notes on his whiteboard during his hospital stay, I came to know him and understand his fears. Eventually, upon his discharge, his attitude had changed, and in some moments he even seemed happy. His treatment was only a piece of the puzzle; we had also provided him with something less tangible – hope and conversation.
In deciding which field I would choose for residency, I often thought of this experience. I firmly believe that Internal Medicine will enable me to provide patients with the multi-faceted, care they need to recover. During my rotations, while I enjoyed the responsibility of diagnosing and treating patients, I also wanted them to go home with improved knowledge of their diseases and become active participants in their health maintenance. To achieve that goal, I worked to learn what each patient already understood about their condition, empathize with their fears, and understand their health priorities. Although this expanded mission presents a greater challenge than simply determining diagnoses and treatments, it ensured a better prognosis and lowered the likelihood of readmission. It was worth the effort. I am additionally grateful for my experience as a disaster recovery aid for the Red Cross, which I recognize as instrumental to my mindset as a physician. During that time, I focused on meeting peoples’ long-term needs caused by natural disasters such as house fires and floods. This required setting weekly schedules for each client and monitoring progress towards their individualized recovery plans. As such, my ability to plan ahead and construct personalized continuity of care plans — which I hope to bring to residency— was refined.
Internal Medicine is also full of opportunities to work collaboratively, both with other doctors and with non-medical caregivers. I learned from experiences like the patient above, the importance of a multidisciplinary team in delivering excellent patient care. My good communication skills, punctuality, and self-discipline would be of use in this regard. Many patients suffer multiple co-morbidities, and as with my cellulitis patient, I want to be involved in their care on many levels. Throughout my clinical years, I observed that my role models were revered as excellent doctors, not just for their ability to take care of patients but because they could also work with nurses, social workers, and other members of their teams. As a result of my positions on the Student Center Governing board, the Brooklyn Free Clinic, and Residential Life, I have had the opportunity to bond with and work closely with nursing, PA, PT, OT, and MPH students. It is my intention to apply the knowledge garnered from them as I work to emulate my role models throughout my career.
Furthermore, I am drawn to internal medicine because it provides the opportunity to be both a caretaker and a teacher — the latter, especially, a role for which I have always had talent. For many years, I have jumped at every opportunity to teach but my role as the coordinator for the incoming class of 2019 medical students was pivotal in developing my teaching ability. The new students and I got along very quickly, and I earned their respect as a mentor. I helped them develop successful study tactics, guided them during their clinical rotations, and offered words of comfort and reassurance to those who were struggling with academics. Mentoring is a cause that is truly dear to me and I hope to continue throughout my residency and beyond, thus becoming the best possible educator I could possibly be.
When I applied to medical school, a frequently asked question was “Why do you want to become a doctor?”’ At the time, I often began by saying “I want to help people.” Now, I would change one word: “I want to care for people.” Internal Medicine is a field in which I can oversee multiple medical issues in one patient, connect with each patient as an individual, and help further my education as well as the education of others. With Internal Medicine, I will continue building upon the skills and experiences I have developed thus far, providing the best medical care possible, and bringing hope and happiness to every patient under my care. Thus, I ask you to seriously consider my application for your internal medicine program.