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FALLING!!! My yell echoed off the vertical canyon walls as I accelerated towards the ground 1,500 feet below. The echo returned; my climbing rope pulled taut halting my plummet. An instant earlier I had been clinging to the fine features of the rock wall above. Dangling now in free air, I looked back up at the stone contours searching for an alternate route of passage. I signaled my partner, who maintained control of the safety rope, to lower me to the ledge where he was secured. Upon regrouping, our third teammate pulled out a photo of the 3,000-foot rock cliff and a small, sketched map indicating our anticipated line of ascent. While scrutinizing the photo, map, and cliff for corresponding elements, we quickly discussed alternative routes and ascension techniques. The sun was setting on day three of continuous vertical progress. We agreed on a new approach, extracted several pieces of specialized gear from our back-up packs and set out on our new plan. Despite my fatigue and the late hour, I cracked a bad joke to break the tension of our precarious situation. We ascended into the twilight and completed the climb 2 days later.
The experience described above is a paradigm of several deeply engrained character traits I have developed throughout my life. These characteristics include problem solving skills, a strong work ethic, technical thinking, and an understanding of the elements of teamwork. These are characteristics that will help me provide exceptional patient care, contribute to the advancement of Orthopedics, and surgical skills through a lifetime dedication to the field.
PROBLEM SOLVING skills are fundamental to the practice of Orthopedics. Personally, I derive great pleasure in devising the best solution to a given dilemma. Seeking, obtaining, and analyzing the information necessary to implement the most appropriate course of action are satisfying steps in deciphering any clinical or personal puzzle. I realize that a given problem often has various solutions. Being aware of these alternative approaches and having the flexibility to change a course of action to achieve a desired goal are important since initial tactics are not always successful.
Having a STRONG WORK ETHIC and the ability to maintain a positive disposition even after hours of effort, I am prepared to devote the long work hours that orthopedic training and practice requires. Though different environments, the art of technical rock climbing on multi-day ascents demonstrates similar characteristics. Both require the stamina to reach a specific goal, and demand the ability to stay focused under stressful conditions during prolonged periods of exertion.
TECHNICAL THINKING, indispensable in the practice of Orthopedics, is another important attribute I possess. Growing up, I found great interest in architectural design and engineering. This interest inspired me to take courses in technical drawing and physics, and work as a draftsman for a structural engineer. All of these experiences enhanced my ability to envision objects from different perspectives, add depth to two-dimensional images, and comprehend mechanical concepts. This keen analytical capacity and the aptitude to act decisively and with precision are invaluable when caring for the human body.
Another character trait I have is an understanding of TEAMWORK. I have participated in group activities throughout my life in various organizations, in sports, and in the wilderness. Through these experiences I have learned to communicate clearly, be receptive to the experiences and suggestions of others, and work with others to synthesize and implement decided courses of action. As a member of a team, I contribute personal knowledge and abilities, complete my share of the work while helping my partners with theirs, and perform with confidence when I am called upon to lead.
Although my decision to practice Orthopedics came late in my academic career, my abiding interest in orthopedics has roots in one early personal experience. As a high school senior I set a goal to win the state wrestling championship. In the first tournament of the year, I fractured my radius. With the encouragement and help of my orthopedist, I wore a series of casts and kept competing, ultimately placing fifth in the state championship. As my doctor did, I intend to make a positive difference in the lives of my patients.
My principle desire to practice orthopedics came on the realization that the specialty calls into play several of my most well developed personal skills. The aforementioned traits, honed by various life experiences, will help me best deal with diverse encounters that an orthopedic surgeon must contend with. They will also help me provide exceptional patient care, contribute to the advancement of Orthopedics, and refine medical and surgical skills through a lifetime dedication to the field.