My career evolution, learning experiences, and my interest in musculoskeletal disability have uniquely directed me towards the field of physiatry. Throughout my clinical rotations I learned from patient contact and disease investigation,
but yearned to see my role in their daily life after they left the hospital. Unlike any other field of medicine, my PM&R elective delved much deeper into the patient’s biopsychosocial realm, investigating their daily functional abilities, tackling their social welfare issues and making sure the patient was well-equipped to survive, many times on their own.
My road to education has molded me into a jack of all trades, whether it is as a leader, traveler, linguist, teacher, or trainer – all things that were advantages for me as I teamed up with the patient to map their prognosis. Fascinated by inpatient post-stroke recovery and biomechanical isolation of the musculoskeletal system to rule out radiculopathies, to working with cerebral palsy kids to fit them with braces, I found myself constantly wanting to learn more about physiatry. A personal trainer by experience, I was intrigued with their motor strength loss, decline in proprioreceptive function and speech, but many times patients were more concerned if they would be able to comb their hair, climb the stairs to their apartment, or even be able to dress themselves properly. Disability was certainly physically debilitating, but many times I witnessed patients’ acute depression ensue from inability to communicate, resulting in a decline in their social function. Working with a team of specialists I was able to learn from neurologists, rheumatologists, orthopedists, psychiatrists, and internists, to provide a holistic learning experience to address the patient’s diverse medical profile. As a profession I was impressed with how rehabilitation was charged with managing the patient’s road to recovery and the satisfaction I received from participating in this long term process. Making sure the patients knew how to tackle their disability, I took it upon myself to educate them on how to cope with impairments which affected facets of their daily lives. Whether it is as medical student, teacher, counselor or translator, my metamorphosis from one role to another ultimately prepared the patient to face mental, physical, and social adversity outside of the hospital.
As a resident, not only can I contribute my basic science knowledge and clinical acumen to physiatry, but I am able to draw on my experience as a teacher and leader. As a teacher and director, I worked in a team-oriented setting to help children reach their daily learning goals and overcome their learning barriers. Thriving off these intense interpersonal relationships, I helped my students overcome their learning deficiencies and regain their confidence in a school setting. This same satisfaction attracted me to physiatry where I could make a functional impact on people’s daily lives, but in a health care setting. Working with patients and colleagues as a team leader towards one common goal – is not new to me – I have jumped to interact with my environment at every step in my learning process, whether it is academic, in an educational setting or at the hospital. My diversity of experiences, skill-set, and propensity for the mechanics of the musculoskeletal system will help me thrive in physiatry where I can continue to work with my colleagues to effect change in patients’ daily activities.
In residency I hope to train in an institution where I can further my understanding of the clinico-pathophysiology of rehabilitation with diverse inpatient and outpatient exposure. Not only would I like to work with motivated faculty who promote teaching and an intimate relationship with the patient, but also enrich my colleagues with my own enthusiasm for musculoskeletal recovery teaching. In the future I envision myself practicing physiatry in conjunction with hospitals, alongside medical students and residents, as well as working on new strategies to improve rehabilitation – ultimately to improve the function of the patient in society.