Residency Psychiatry, MPH Degree

February 28, 2012

British physician John Brown said it best when he said. It is not a case we are treating; it is a living, palpitating, alas, too often suffering fellow creature. For me, this sentiment captures the role and responsibility of doctors not just in providing treatment to patients, but also in living out their duty of care to their fellow citizens. My examples, owning and operating a medical clinic, yet I was fully aware of my undertaking.

I can recall the start of my journey on this career path. My family and I were ready to go out for dinner one was upset at this interruption of our plans. The following week when I was at my parents clinic, a middle-aged man came with flowers and thanked my father for treating his wife the previous Sunday. I can still remember the gratitude in his eyes and the satisfaction in my dad's face. That was my first lesson on the nobility and responsibilities of this profession. As I grew older, I learned more and more lessons at my parents clinic. Every time I witnessed the happiness of their patients, I promised myself I would one day be able to provide that same sense of relief to my patients. With the motivation and guidance of my parents, and my own determination to become a good doctor, I worked hard to get into medical school.

In medical school, I was exposed to a multitude of disciplines, and during clinical rotations, I was 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. I have always taken pleasure in the process of deducing a diagnosis from symptoms and clinical signs. In my intern year, four of us worked as a team under the guidance of our attending and immediately recognized the importance of teamwork, especially in the clinical setting.

The interaction I have enjoyed with patients has always included educating them about their conditions, and I found my greatest satisfaction came from this interaction, soothing them, and correcting their misconceptions about conditions and symptoms. One case that comes to mind is that of a patient with alcoholic cirrhosis. He was brought into the hospital in a state of confusion and wreaked of alcohol; he also had Wernicke's encephalopathy. The challenge was not in the diagnosis but in convincing him that the cause of his problems was excessive alcohol consumption. I took the time to sit with him, outlining the ill effects of alcohol. I helped him get into a support group and get some financial help through hospital social services. It is always extremely satisfying to see my patients walk out of the hospital healthy. That particular patient's path to health was a long one, but at least he had started walking it. Being in southern India I had a chance to work with a diverse range of patients from all economic ranges and backgrounds. I have to admit that mental health awareness among Indians is not impressive. I was not surprised to learn that patients, rich and poor alike, had many similar misconceptions and required counseling. I was privileged to work in several rural health campaigns that gave me the opportunity to influence the lives of several villagers. These interactions taught me that an essential attribute for affecting lives in this way is an empathetic and understanding approach with excellent communication skills.

With an eagerness to learn about the US health care system, I pursued my Masters in Public Health at West Virginia University. Here I had an opportunity to experience the research aspects of the health field. Under the guidance of Dr. XXXX, I worked on a project to evaluate the readiness of the people in the community to adopt Enhance Fitness (an exercise program for people with arthritis). During the implementation phase of this project, I was involved in participants enrollment for the exercise classes and their physical activity assessment using accelerometers. During the final year of my MPH, I chose a similar project for my practicum.

I correlated objective (accelerometers) and subjective (CHAMPS Questionnaire) methods of measurement of physical activity. This project provided me an opportunity to understand the reliability of the methods of measurement and their usefulness for patients with arthritis.

In order to experience the clinical health care system in close proximity, I worked as an observer in the University of XXXX Medical Branch and at XXXX University. I had an opportunity to closely observe various methods of and approaches to patient care in the clinic and the daily rounds, and get first-hand knowledge of technical advances in healthcare. I was able to attend clinical conferences and grand rounds, which helped me, further strengthen my knowledge.

This opportunity solidified my appreciation for and understanding of the US healthcare system. British physician John Brown had it right: it is not a case we are treating but a fellow creature. To become a great physician one should be proficient in many aspects of health care in addition to academics. Proceeding from the ethos Brown articulated, I have determined that my future lies in Psychiatry, and am eager to take up the challenge and join in a rewarding and fascinating future for myself and for the overall benefit of my future patients. 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. Given the opportunity, I can assure you that I will be a strong asset and a worthy addition to your program. I very much appreciate your consideration of my application to join your program.

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