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He was just 11 at the time it happened. Up until that tragic day, he had led a prominent, even famous life within an affluent Canadian family. The car accident left his body a shattered quadriplegic with cerebral palsy due to anoxic brain injury. While his mom and dad survived more favorably, physically at least, the emotional and mental scars, and the trauma left their indelible mark, particularly on his mom. While I managed his care, working with his physicians, ensuring he received 24-7 medical care, that he was never neglected and that his medications are administered correctly; his mother fought a battle of her own. Despite her husband and family being advised to seek psychiatric help for the mother, she entered into a downward spiral of alcohol abuse that ended in her suicide. I was beside myself with shock. Affluence aside, she was still a mom, one who felt she lost everything that day and simply could not move on. When I think on it now, I am certain all of this could have been avoided if the right psychiatric intervention had taken place. I thought of Cicero's declarations, morbi perniciores pluresque animi quam corporis and in animo perturbato, sicut in corpore, sanitas esse non potest. The diseases of the mind are more destructive than those of the body. In a disturbed mind, as in a body in the same state, health cannot exist.
I determined that wondering who would help people from falling through societal cracks was ineffective and that I was fully prepared for the opportunity and challenge of a demanding Psychiatry residency. Moreover, for years I have been fascinated by the uniqueness of Psychiatry, how most of the anomalies in Psychiatric patients are of thought, feelings and behaviors and are not measurable by equipment, that the tangible is secondary to what can only be sensed. The skill for diagnosis lies almost completely within the doctor and their counseling acumen, the ability to decode the patient's feedback. From all that I have seen, and understand, as a Psychiatrist, I will not only be aiding my patients in their lives, but also their loved ones, giving them back a loving, functioning, and healthier participant in their lives.
What is more, Psychiatry also satisfies me personally, professional, even spiritually as a physician, ten times more than psychology ever could. Indeed, I would feel highly limited as a psychologist in terms of not being able to give comprehensive and ongoing mental care to my patients. Psychiatry offers the unique challenge of incorporating psychotherapeutic and pharmacological regimens.
As a Psychiatrist, I envision keeping an active private practice, and teaching at least part-time as an attending or visiting lecturer. What is more, I want to use my own successes as a jumping off point for launching medical mission work in emerging nations, efforts aimed at advancing young women's futures in medicine. Indeed, I have been inspired by attendings I have had the pleasure of working with who have gone to Haiti, sometimes taking teams of medical students to provide free Diabetes, hypertension and other preventative health screenings as well as basic primary care camps for locals living in remote, poverty-stricken areas. On a local level, I want to use my position in the community to make sustainable contributions to programs that provide education and shelter for homeless children, as well as free medical care.
I bring with me to the Psychiatry residency program a solid academic foundation in Medicine and Psychology coupled with numerous academic, professional and volunteer experiences in differing set-ups and positions of responsibility in Canada, the US and the West Indies. More specifically, my core rotation in Psychiatry impressed upon me the profound and positive impact of the direct patient-physician relationship, even in patients with severely debilitating disorders. I heard from a paranoid schizophrenic who indicated that before meeting my attending, she had no form of normalcy in her life. In my homeland of India, particularly, so often people realize the need for medicine and intervention when they are physically ill. And yet, guilt, remorse, depression, and stress are all symptoms and conditions that can spark or contribute to an untimely death. The power to improve the quality of life of a patient is what I admire most in Psychiatry. Further proof that I am exactly where I need to be came on the last day of my rotation. My attending informed me that many of his patients praised me on my professionalism, grasp of medicine, bedside manner and if I was available as a Psychiatrist. Most telling of all, though, he graciously offered me a position in his practice once I complete residency.
I look forward to my Psychiatry residency assignment as a student and contributor with great eagerness. To my mind, the greatest display of our humanity does not lie in how many accolades we gather, or papers we publish, but in the number of times that go that we show compassion for our neighbors and our patients. I thank you for your time and consideration.