The following is one of my earliest pieces of writing that I can confidently call literature. After my first 3 years of undergrad I wrote this personal statement to justify my admission into medical school. I (with the help of a close friend) spent maybe 48 hours polishing this piece from its original draft to this final submission. At least 4 hours were spent on an introductory paragraph that was eventually overlooked in favor of two powerful sentences with another hour used to evaluate the literary (and admission) risks in doing something so unconventional. Considering I was a very mediocre applicant with a 3.2 GPA and a 502 MCAT (57th percentile), I am quite certain that the only reason I received interviews and finally an admission was because of my writing. This miracle speaks to the art required to enter medical school.
I want to be a leader in healthcare. To not only lead the intervention of declining health, but to provide a higher quality of life.
I was waiting for a doctor’s arrival to begin my shift as a scribe at a local emergency department in Houston when a code blue was announced. Not a minute later, my doctor arrived and told me “Come on Bilal, we will be taking this case” as he dropped his things and I grabbed the intubation kit. As we headed back to the ED from the intubation, he asked me if I noticed anything when more than one ED doctor is available for a code blue. “There sometimes is a brief ‘do you want to go or should I go’ exchange between them” I said. He rolled his eyes, then looked at me sternly. “Always be the one to act, don’t be the one sitting in the back waiting for someone else to do it, keep that in mind for when you become a doctor, or whatever you do in life for that matter.” A “sense of urgency” was something I thought to be a buzzword when I first heard it used among doctors the same way businessmen like to use “synergy”. However, seeing it demonstrated by all of the doctors’ actions in the ED, revealed the importance of leading a health care team.
Being able to communicate effectively is an important aspect of being a leader. Attending research conventions, I have learned that deep understanding of science can be insufficient when not presented clearly, creating disconnect. Similarly, patients assume that the doctor knows what’s best for them and never ask about alternatives and a doctor may never feel the need to ponder beyond how to extend their lives. Extension of life may be important, but should not come at the cost of its quality. It is a doctors duty to provide comfort near the end of life and be aware of what the patient desires in what remains of it. Contemplating within that mindset, I was able to further appreciate the empathy a doctor must have to care for his patients.
I have seen and can relate to the worry and trauma families have for their loved ones. Each and every doctor I have observed is working to relieve their problems and put both the families and patients at ease. My grandmother lived the last 40 years of her life taking cortisone and other medications for severe rheumatoid arthritis. Although she progressed from ambulatory to weak and bedridden, her doctors worked tirelessly to improve her quality of life towards its end. They achieved this by reducing her pain, while maintaining my family’s morale during her final years. And though death could not be evaded, the efforts provided in such difficult times were invaluable and appreciated by all of us, including her.
My desire to pursue medicine grew gradually as a doctor’s true purpose became clearer to me. The duality of the position appealed to me the most, for I could be both a leader in science and its health applications. It also aligned with my philosophy of dedicating my life to the service of humanity. Opportunities for me to be intellectually stimulated by the challenges found in the dynamic environment were also present. These attributes are found in cardiology, anesthesiology, and emergency medicine where collaboration with leaders of other specialties is required to facilitate the highest quality of care. I want to apply my knowledge for the benefit of others, positively impacting the lives that I may encounter.
The training that we are given today impacts the type of care that patients will receive tomorrow. Osteopathic medicine differs by training in preventative care and integrating body systems for a holistic approach to health care and diagnosis, which is not emphasized as extraneously in allopathic training. This methodology will enhance my abilities as a doctor in preventative care, improving health and increasing quality of life.*
A doctor needs empathy and compassion for all patients. You also need to have a sense of urgency while taking precise and deliberate actions to provide quality care. However, death is indiscriminate and inescapable. Everyday there will be people who won’t ever again be able to feel the breeze on their face, a kiss from their beloved or to experience other simple pleasures in life. No matter how skilled one is as a physician, the reality is that we cannot always bring life back, but we can always provide comfort at the end of life. I wish to be a leader in medicine to increase the longevity of our population and to ease the final moments that we will all eventually experience.
*This paragraph was only sent in DO applications
Originally written June 2016