Fresh out of my first year of internship, I had felt the need to sharpen my clinical skills and, while deciding which specialty I wanted to devote a large part of my life to, I decided to do the right thing and accepted an eleven-month rotation of community service at Hopital Immaculee Conception (H.I.C.) in Les Cayes, a city in southern Haiti, the country where I was born and returned to attend medical school after growing up in the United States. It was my first weekend on my new assignment, and of the four medical doctors assigned to that rotation, I was the first to be on call that fateful evening. The nurses were too overwhelmed to pick up the phone, so they sent the janitor to tell me. When I stepped into that emergency room, there was a sea of people screaming, crying, and bleeding so profusely that the strong smell of iron was unmistakable. Those that needed me most were those not uttering a sound. That night, as a result of a bus crashing fully loaded, I am very confident in the practice of medicine. I was instantly an orthopedist reducing fractures as conservatively as possible--radiological images are only available in Haiti for the wealthy. I was also a full-fledged pediatrician since there were several injured, pregnant women as well as children. In the following days, I became a social worker, helping the injured to find financial support for further treatment. Without losing my composure for a second, I worked all night with the nurses, after first evaluating who was alive and who was dead. Then, deciding whose life might be saved with our meager resources, implementing treatment. I love my native country and my medical school, but practicing emergency room medicine in Haiti is like playing football with one hand tied behind my back. Frankly, I feel like I have paid my dues to Haiti, at least for now, and I want to come home to America where I grew up; where I can practice medicine with both hands.
The next eleven months of rotation experiences in a variety of areas helped me to settle my quandary concerning what specialty to pursue. Family medicine has finally stolen my heart and I cannot resist the charm of holistic medicine, its potential for the family practitioner. I want to treat families because I am an especially good listener and my life experiences have taught me to better understand the interconnections that always exist between a family's social, behavioral and cultural peculiarities on one hand and their medical issues on the other. I lived for three years with my Alzheimer-stricken grandmother during my medical school years. It was very hard to see her transition from an energetic, competent adult to a completely amnesic, nonfunctional state. Throughout the course of her illness, I reflected upon the way that every individual should be entitled to the best medical care that a society can reasonably provide. And I have dedicated my life to do everything that I can do make this possible.
I am thirty-five and single, I think, because I have thus far dedicated my life to the study of medicine; between medicine and supporting myself, I never had much time for a boyfriend. I have not lost hope, however, as I recognize my own potential to live a happy and completely fulfilled life. I may decide to be a single mother; and I would most like to support the two of us as a practicing family physician. I also spent a lot of time doing community service, for many years, mostly with my church, bringing things to destitute families and participating in vaccination programs. I am a cheerful woman who is very good company and I want to thank you for consideration as a resident physician in your noble institution.