Thursday, July 29, 2004

MEDICAL SCHOOL ESSAY DRAFT POST #2: If I get through it. I hope. I'm not watching Kerry talk so I can do this.

My application to medical school requires a bit of explanation. First, medicine was not my first career choice. Coming out of high school I wanted to be a writer, so that's what I went to school for. As an activity, I enjoyed writing immensely, and I still do. As a profession, I found it not to my liking; I didn't have the ability to endure the isolation required to write and write the way professionals do, and I had no interest in teaching writing. This leads me to my second point: my relative lack of youth, a result of getting the aforementioned degree. At 29, I am, on the grand scale, not very old at all, but relative to other medical school applicants I am positively ancient. Third, I am the son of a doctor, and as a class of people the children of physicians who become physicians have a certain set of stereotypes associated with them: that they don't work as hard, that they feel entitled to their positions, that, above all, they do not feel the love of medicine the way other doctors do.

So these are all things that could be held against me. It is my contention, though, that they are assets, and should be seen as such. They are the ways I am a unique candidate for medical school, and suggest the ways in which I could be a unique physician.

First, that medicine is my second career choice. Writing was my first, but writing is also a skill, one that doesn't leave you, though it does atrophy with disuse. Within the practice of medicine it has wide application, where the ability to communicate verbally, with clarity, is extremely important. The flow of information within the hospital depends upon it.

Second, my relative seniority. The reason why this is a deficit is obvious: my older mind is not quite the pliant vessel ready to be filled with practical and theoretical knowledge it was in its younger days. But where my mind's pliancy has been lessened, its wisdom has increased. I have experienced more than the typical applicant about to enter into the second half of eight years of continuous schooling. I have humped crappy desk jobs. I have interacted with people within and without medicine, lived in what is charmingly referred to as "the real world," and learned the things you can't learn if all you've ever been is a student. Time spent not being a student can only make me a better medical student, I think.

Third, my status as a physician's son, born as I was one calm April morning to the wife of a fourth-year medical student. This could be held against me, for the reasons outlined above. Or it could just mean that I know better than anyone what I'm getting into by choosing medical school. I have seen the effort my father has put in over the years. The rising early and the getting home late, the struggles to keep a practice afloat, the calls in the middle of the night. I know intimately that it is no easy thing to become a doctor. Yet I know the joy the job brings to my father as well, how much he enjoys his patients and the direct effect he has on them. He's the one who has always told me to do something I liked, and that's the part of him I really wish to emulate; not what he does so much as his enjoyment of it.

For I really think medicine is the right choice for me. I have no idea what specialty I would choose at this point, but so many of them sound fascinating. I find psychiatry inherently interesting, though I'm not sure I'd enjoy it in practice. Infectious diseases sounds fascinating, both as a subject to study and a type of medicine to practice. I love the idea of family practice, being the jack of all trades out there on the frontlines of medicine. And others too, some I haven't even seriously considered yet. There just seems to be so much opportunity there, if you're willing to work for it. I hope my record indicates that I am.

More than anything else, I feel like I have grown into the idea of being a physician. I have always been around it: I grew up with it, and even now I am employed in the office building at my local hospital (my current position is registrar for the division of trauma.) Though it is not my first choice, and it took a few more years to make that choice than it does for most physicians, I believe it is my best choice.

--I'm too tired to write any more, but there isn't much more to add to this version. It follows a logical argument, listing why some of my unusual qualities could be considered hindrances, but are actually pluses, and ends with a paean to the muse of medicine. I need to work on the paean part. The self-doubts of the first draft are mostly encapsulated within the first paragraph of this version. Only you, oh Internet, know their full form. Comments appreciated, like before.

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