A Female Physician and A Calling
This is my young physician friend’s statement during her residency application. Doctors of Medicine, both Allopathic and Osteopathic, know it takes a long journey to be best prepared to provide excellent care to their future patients. There is no shortcut for these dedicated young people to be well-trained physicians.
“Do I need to get the monster spray?” I asked as my son peered at me over his covers. “No… well, maybe” he replied. After half of the stuff in his closet fell on my head as I sprayed for monsters with a bottle of water, he was finally convinced that not even a closet monster could survive in there, and he drifted back to sleep. Little did I know, I was not just teaching him to feel secure; I was learning skills that would someday be invaluable to me as a physician. While closet monsters are not real, the necessity to extinguish them to comfort a child certainly is. This ability to connect with children is one of how the experiences in my life have prepared me for a residency in Med-Peds and a career in academic medicine.
During the clinical portion of my training, each clerkship presented new and fascinating patients, and I could imagine enjoying every one of those specialties as a career. In Pediatrics, I enjoyed everything from the challenge of earning the trust of a reluctant toddler to providing reassurance to anxious new parents. My own experience as a parent has well prepared me for interacting with children. I can empathize with parents and give them advice with confidence. During the Internal Medicine clerkship, I found I was equally comfortable interacting with patients of all ages. Clinically, one of my strengths is the ability and desire to connect with my patients as well as my colleagues. Ultimately, I have found this allows me to provide better care for my patients and to better educate them regarding their respective conditions and treatment options. The academic rigor of treating patients with an array of complex medical problems appeals to me greatly. In addition, I like the interdisciplinary team approach to patient care and to ensuring their needs are met beyond their hospital stay. It is rewarding to be able to follow up with patients in the outpatient clinics after getting to know them as patients on our inpatient service.
Because of the rapport, I established with one of my patients, I was asked during my fourth year to accompany her to a Grand Rounds presentation of her case. I sat with her during the presentation to explain what was being said and to answer any questions she might have. Having spent a significant portion of the past five years working on basic science research, it was fascinating to participate in a discussion of the science underlying her condition while she shared her real-life experience with us. While I decided early in my studies to pursue a career in academic medicine, this experience reinforced that decision and demonstrated in a very real way the value of research.
The first opportunity I had to participate in research was as an undergraduate in the Biomedical Sciences Departmental Honors Program. Through this program, I learned to present scientific data and wrote a Senior Honors Thesis. Initially, I chose Immunology as an area of focus because the field would apply to any specialty I might one day choose. The work instilled in me the desire to pursue a career in academic medicine and to continue my research in the field of Immunology. Throughout medical school, I have worked under the supervision of Dr. Robert Barrington. We are investigating the role of B and T lymphocytes in the development of autoantibodies in Rasgrp1-deficient mice, a murine model of lupus. This work resulted in the first authorship of an article accepted for publication in the Journal of Immunology, and I will be taking a research elective this fall to continue work on our next project.
My long-term goal is to complete a Fellowship in Allergy and Immunology and to dedicate my career to being a physician-scientist. I am participating in the Match with my husband who is pursuing a career in General Surgery. I am looking for a residency program that will allow me to continue to pursue my academic interests while providing me with the environment and knowledge to become a well-rounded physician. My experiences as a parent, student physician, researcher, and even closet monster exterminator, have well prepared me for a residency in Med-Peds where I will be challenged to connect with and care for patients of all ages, and from all walks of life.”