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It was my first trip across the Atlantic. I received a college scholarship that allowed me to travel and intern at the Foundation, a national HIV service organization. I documented my experience through photography in order to share it with my college community. M.J. was a gardener at the foundation; he was also the first person living with HIV I ever got to know. I would sometimes accompany him while he trimmed the rose bushes that surrounded the foundation. He revealed to me the time he gathered all his friends and family to disclose his HIV status. Some of them never came back. As I listened, I felt the urge to be more than an eyewitness to his circumstances. After my moving experiences, I went back homeand shared his story though my photographs. This experience strenthened my desire to become an active participant in changing these stories.
It was the opportunity to intervene that first attracted me to the specialty of obstetrics and gynecology. The summer prior to medical school I visited the Centro, a prenatal clinic for women who are HIV positive. The center was part of a federal pilot study that used antiretrovirals to decrease the rate of vertical transmission of the HIV virus. I was amazed to learn that there had not been a single case of maternal-fetal infection since the project began in 1996. I could imagine few other interventions that could alter lives in a more definite manner than this.
As my third year rotation unfolded, I became fascinated by the wide variety of roles played by obstetrician/gynecologists. While I greatly enjoyed the gratification stemming from the interaction with primarily healthy women through prenatal or health maintenance appointments, I was also attracted to the treatment of patients who presented clinical and surgical challenges. My senior clerkship was an opportunity to become more comfortable with manual procedures; I greatly enjoyed working with my hands and became attracted to the satisfaction of seeing immediate results through surgery. As my clerkship came to an end, it became clear to me that I had no other option but to become an obstetrician/gynecologist myself.
A career in obstetrics and gynecology will allow me to fulfill both personal and professional aims. I plan to complete a fellowship in family planning in order to integrate my interests in prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. I see myself practicing in affiliation with a research institution so that I may use my experience to contribute to public policy and advocate for my patient's health. On an individual level, my goal is to create enduring therapeutic relationships with my patients through which I tend to both their physical and social well being. As an obstetrician/gynecologist, I will be in an ideal position to so this having the privilege of playing an integral part in some of the most important transitions in a woman's life as well as their everyday care.
Since my experience in Spain, my camera remained a close companion. I have been amazed at how quickly people have opened up, revealing part of themselves through each image. I always feel privileged to have their confidence. In the future, I trust that medicine will, like my camera, offer me an opportunity to peer into my patient's world. Only this time I will be more than a spectator.