11 June 2009

My life story

A little background to this post. . . I've been in the middle of writing my personal statement for med school applications and I've received a lot of feedback about making it less formal and bringing in personality (kinda like my blogging style). So, Katie recommended I post about how I became interested in medicine to get a feel for writing a less formal statement. Here it goes. . .

I must admit that I haven't always been interested in medicine, per se, but I've always been fascinated by the body. This is probably because I grew up playing sports and was always focused on training and getting better. In playing the sport I gained an interest in the body's ability and in watching professional athletes I was drawn to the body's potential. However, growing up in a family of dentists and sales reps didn't give me much exposure to medicine. Therefore, my interest in science took me towards engineering and architecture. I enjoyed designing and problem solving which is why woodshop and enginerring classes quickly became favorites. Still, my involvement in high school athletics kept me interested in how science was able to benefit the body. It wasn't until family members began persistently suggesting that I look at medicine that I began to consider what options were available in that field. Since then I have never looked back.

It was kind of random that I chose cardiology as my field of interest but it got me started in my studies of medicine. Dr. Daniel's from my home ward invited me to observe an open heart surgery upon hearing about my interest in cardiology. I wasn't hesitant in accepting the invite but became a little more tenative with my first whiff of the fumes coming from the operating room. I was surprised that I was invited to stand directly over the operating table while they underwent the procedure and intently began to focus as they sawed down the middle of this lady's chest to open her thoracic cavity. There were several times during the procedure that would've been uneasy for most people but I was very intrigued by the work. The fact that I could stomach that procedure helped confirm that medicine, and even surgery, was a real possibility for me.

From there I became pre-occupied with finishing high school and moving on to college to worry about any further exposure to medicine, though I found myself constantly telling people that I was headed towards cardiology. It became quite similar to my testimony; the more I said it and lived it the more I believed in its reality. Speaking of testimony, I then went on my mission to Connecticut, which surprisingly provided me with experiences that helped me stay on the path towards medicine. Though Connecticut is one of the more affluent states I served 18 months in underserved and underprivileged inner cities. Simply being there and serving helped me to see the need to advance healthcare in these communities. I remember working with Charlie who struggled to provide for his family while dealing with chronic back pain. He underwent two spinal fusions in the time that I was there. I was curious how someone in his financial situation could afford the cost of such procedures. This has helped me realize the compassion that doctors must possess and willingness to work with such cases. Not all cases are as glamorous as working on professional athletes who then recover in order to play a sport at a levels most of us are incapable of.

After coming home from my mission I continued to take classes dealing with health; classes like physiology, biochemistry, anatomy, biomechanics, and sports nutrition. I loved the material in each of these classes, though the competitveness at BYU makes it difficult to constantly rank high in all of these classes. It wasn't long after getting home that I met Katie. We dated for 10 months and then were engaged for 4 months before we were married. My life perspectives began to change since I knew that my personal decisions would now affect a family. Her pursuit of a Master's in Public Health helped bring new insights into how I saw medicine. She helped me realize that medicine is more than just working on needy, but also about promoting good health throughout society.

Katie helped me find a job in working at a physical therapy clinic. Though at the time it was just a way to provide for a small family, it has proven invaluable in the experience and practice I've received in working with recovering patients. One of the first patients I worked with had underwent two total knee replacements. I was there everyday as she progressed from pain with laying on a table to riding a stationary bike. The recovery was remarkable to witness and I was excited to be on a team to provide such service. My association with physical therapy has introduced me to orthopedics, sports rehab, and the body's ability to heal itself.

Recent health problems within my own family have caused me to look further into understanding medicine. My mom was recently diagnosed with epilepsy. She has not yet responded to treatment and her life was changed dramatically. Katie was diganosed with Crohn's at the age of fourteen. Assisting her during recurring episodes has left me curious for future advancements for this disease. It motivates me to get involved with research and I often wonder if I will ever be involved in discovering a product or procedure that would assist somebody in similar situations.

I feel like I've been adequately exposed to medicine and the responsibilities associated with practicing in any of its fields. I have been in the operating room. I have served the underserved. I have participated in research that will help us understand the effects that ice has on injury. I have countless hours in the clinic. I have the support of a wife and immediate family for whatever path I choose. I know that I am a good fit for medicine but unfortunately, at this point, the decision is no longer mine. I now must await the approval of some medical school that will see the time and effort I've put into preparation and will give me a chance to make a career out of my preparation. Whatever transpires, I know I will remain committed to finding some area of medicine that is a perfect fit for me.

Really? Are you still reading this?