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My parents were both born to farmers in the eastern part of Ethiopia. They re-located to the capital city to struggle for a better life for themselves and their children. I was the second oldest of four children, two biological and two adopted. While I was growing up, we lived in a modest home facing the community clinic that served more than 50,000 people in our neighborhood. Every day as I walked to school, I saw numerous patients waiting in line to obtain medical care. By the end of the day, I could not help but notice how this clinic was still swamped with patients desperately waiting to receive medical attention. This daily sight of sheer human desperation and suffering made me very conscious of the egregious shortage of physicians in my community. Thus, while still a child, I became determined to become a doctor. Now that I have realized that dream here in America, someday, I hope to return to Ethiopia to teach medicine.
At the age of fifteen, I came to the United States to pursue my education. I settled in El Paso, Texas with a family member and began my high school education three days after my arrival to the U.S. Determined to get accustomed to life here in America as quickly as possible; I immersed myself in American culture by making new friends. Becoming multi-cultural through this experience has taught me the importance of being flexible; and I now adapt easily to new environments. I am very understanding and respectful of people from all cultural backgrounds and this helps me to develop a good rapport with my patients and their families.
Only eight years after arriving in the U.S., I began medical school and the enormously yet equally fulfilling journey to become a physician. The summer between my first and second years of medical school, I participated in an internship that was designed to expose medical students to different specialties in medicine. It was through this summer program that I had the opportunity to explore and evaluate which specialty most captured my interest as a potential career focus. I focused upon anesthesiology early on, because of my profound admiration for advancements in the field and the fundamental importance of pain relief to the success of medical procedures and patient well being.
At the beginning of my third year, I decided to take a one-month elective course in anesthesiology. I worked one on one with a staff anesthesiologist and assumed responsibilities in pre-, peri-, and post-operative patient care and risk assessments; and I found this experience to be especially engaging and exhilarating. I especially love being able to systematically apply my knowledge of pharmacology to predict and observe physiologic responses to drugs and learn how they could be used to hemodynamically stabilize a patient during a procedure, facilitating both an optimal surgical field and pain management. I have come to especially appreciate the way that anesthesiologists are the primary care-givers for patients in the operating room, the fact that they assume the greatest responsibility for ensuring patients’ overall well-being throughout the procedure. While it is enormously challenging, I find myself fulfilled by playing this critical role, especially reassuring the patient that everything is going to be fine.
Last year, I visited Ethiopia and worked with my sister, a medical student. What I discovered there strengthened my commitment to medicine and especially to anesthesiology. I was horrified to see how a wide range of excruciatingly painful procedures were performed without any form of anesthesia. This further cemented my desire to devote my life to anesthesia and to prepare for a long career that includes the training of residents and medical students in this area. I keenly look forward to the opportunity to meet you, join your team, and give my all to anesthesiology.