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I knew that I would plan on a career in otolaryngology after I met a 65 year old African American male who had been diagnosed with base of tongue squamous cell carcinoma. The patient reminded me of my grandfather who past away at the age of 85 of gastrointestinal problems. I did not want to see this patient die during surgery. I felt sympathy for the patient and I wanted to do whatever was possible to remove his tumor. The patient was an elderly, loquacious, and energetic married gentleman who had a twenty year pack tobacco history. The patient was anxiously awaiting his turn to be seen by anesthesia before going down to the operating room.
This was my first case involving a hemiglossectomy with neck dissection. I was unsure of the technical aspects of the procedure. I felt comfortable with the head and neck anatomy, often reading and reviewing the anatomy the night before the surgery. In the operating room, I had a flashback of my gross anatomy days when I dissected the oral cavity and found the lingual nerve and hypoglossal nerve with success. After the first incision was made, I soon became comfortable with the ambiance of the operating room and felt sure of my self as I assisted the attending and resident in the operation. During the surgery, I reflected on the fragility of life. As an Otolaryngologist I would be extracting malignant tumors that would immediately prolong my patients’ lives. Furthermore, as an Otolaryngologist, my role is to inform and reassure my patients with sympathy and compassion, regardless of their chosen lifestyles.
The long hours spent in the operating room and attending graduate school have contributed to qualities of being an Otolaryngologist with distinction. My experience at Medical University was challenging and demanding. It was fulfilling because was courses were geared towards the rigor of medical school. I believe that my academic success at the graduate level was an indication of my potential success at the University School of Medicine. My experiences at the graduate level and my clinical clerkships have prepared me to be an efficient, hardworking and knowledgeable resident in Otolaryngology. My experience in general surgery and surgical subspecialties have contributed to my metamorphosis from a medical student to competent resident. Whether it was dressing changes, suture removal, checking Jackson-Pratt drains or percutaneous intravenous central catheters, writing prescriptions or filling out discharge forms – all were fulfilling experiences. In addition, taking full history and physicals in my clerkship helped me hone the particulars necessary to provide a differential diagnosis in order to attend to the patient efficiently.
I am seeking a residency program with a diverse patient population that presents with common and uncommon head and neck pathologies. My bilingual fluency in English and Spanish has helped me in the community and hospital setting. I have been able to translate and interview patients in Spanish in the clinical setting which resulted in more comfortable patient physician interaction. I am also searching for a program that allows for research during the residency training on new innovative modalities for providing better care and prevention of cancers of the head and neck. Furthermore, I am looking for a program that will provide with a myriad and a large number of cases that will give me the experience to become a qualified surgeon.
My future goals include service to an underserved Hispanic community so that I can continue my care for the largest growing community in the United States. Moreover, I hope to continue to strive for a fellowship in facial plastics surgery to help those patients who are victims of trauma to the face.