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In the summers of 95 and 96, I worked closely with a group of private practice orthopaedic surgeons in Nashville, Tennessee. Prior to my experience there, I knew that I wanted to be a physician but I had not decided what career path I would follow after medical school. I was unaware of the indelible influence those summers would have in guiding me through the following years.
The experience introduced me to the art of physical diagnosis as well as the conservative and surgical management of patients. The ability to diagnose patients particular problems, educate them regarding mechanisms of injuries, discuss interventions and alternatives, and have the opportunity to correct pathology in the operating room was especially appealing to me.
While in medical school I continued to explore my interest in orthopaedics. In the summer of 97, I investigated the growth of pluripotential marrow stem cells on the bone graft substitute calcium sulfate hemihydrate. The project afforded me the opportunity to apply clinical questions at the basic science level. This fall I plan to return to the laboratory to study the influence of mechanical forces on gene expression in developing synovial joints.
During my third year, I served as a member of the Trauma-Hand orthopaedics team. The intricacies of hand and microvascular surgery were fascinating and challenging. The trauma service provided an opportunity to see a wide variety of orthopaedic cases where each one presented a puzzle with several solutions to achieve the correct fix. My experiences on the service further solidified my interest in the field of orthopaedic surgery.
Though there are no physicians in my family, my parents have played an important role in developing many of the attributes I believe are key to being the person, student, resident, and physician I strive to be. The importance of teamwork was taught to me at a young age when I first began competitive athletics. The value of hard work was instilled in me as well, and I worked at the local furniture factory while I was in high school. During that time, I also remained an active member of my community and high school where I served as President of the Student Body during my senior year. For three summers of my undergraduate years, I worked in the garage of a local tire store. I recognize that the team concept, leadership, and hard work are the foundations for success in any endeavor. In addition, my parents taught me the value of teaching others by encouraging me to tutor family members who were having difficulty with school. While in high school I tutored many of my classmates and came to appreciate the rewards of sharing knowledge as well as how teaching was vital to my own learning process. In my Senior year at the University of Alabama, I was asked to be the teaching assistant for the Nursing Microbiology and Pathological Microbiology Laboratory courses. Teaching has provided me with the opportunity to both solidify and test the limits of my own knowledge while I strive to find the best way to present information to others in an meaningful way.
My experiences and background have prepared me well for a residency in orthopaedic surgery. I look forward to working with a team of orthopaedists who are excited and passionate about their work as well as educating others. I intend to remain involved with teaching others the art of orthopaedics when I finish my residency whether that be in academics or in the private sector.