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Medical Residency Holistic Family Medicine

Fresh out of my first year of internship, I had felt the need to sharpen my clinical skills, and, while deciding which specialty I wanted to devote a large part of my life to, I decided to do the right thing and accepted an eleven-month rotation of community service at Hospital Immaculee Conception (H.I.C.) in Les Cayes, a city in southern Haiti, the country where I was born and returned to attend medical school after growing up in the United States. It was my first weekend on my new assignment, and of the four medical doctors assigned to that rotation, I was the first to be on call that fateful evening. The nurses were too overwhelmed to pick up the phone, so they sent the janitor to tell me. When I stepped into that emergency room, there was a sea of people screaming, crying, and bleeding so profusely that the strong smell of iron was unmistakable. Those that needed me most were those not uttering a sound. That night, as a result of a bus crashing fully loaded, I became very confident in the practice of medicine. I was instantly an orthopedist, reducing fractures as conservatively as possible--radiological images are only available in Haiti for the wealthy. I was also a full-fledged pediatrician since several injured pregnant women and children were injured. In the following days, I became a social worker, helping the wounded to find financial support for further treatment. Without losing my composure for a second, I worked all night with the nurses, after first evaluating who was alive and who was dead. Then, deciding whose life might be saved with our meager resources, implementing treatment. I love my native country and my medical school, but practicing emergency room medicine in Haiti is like playing football with one hand tied behind my back. Frankly, I feel like I have paid my dues to Haiti, at least for now, and I want to come home to America, where I grew up, where I can practice medicine with both hands.

The following eleven months of rotation experiences in various areas helped me settle my quandary concerning what specialty to pursue. Family medicine has finally stolen my heart, and I cannot resist the charm of holistic medicine and its potential for the family practitioner. I want to treat families because I am an excellent listener, and my life experiences have taught me to understand better the interconnections that always exist between a family's social, behavioral, and cultural peculiarities on the one hand and their medical issues on the other. I lived with my Alzheimer-stricken grandmother for three years during my medical school years. It was tough to see her transition from an energetic, competent adult to a completely amnesic, nonfunctional state. Throughout her illness, I reflected upon how every individual should be entitled to the best medical care that society can reasonably provide. And I have dedicated my life to doing everything possible to make this possible.

I am thirty-five and single; I think because I have thus far dedicated my life to the study of medicine; between medicine and supporting myself, I never had much time for a boyfriend. However, I have not lost hope as I recognize my potential to live a happy and completely fulfilled life. I may decide to be a single mother and would most like to support the two of us as a practicing family physician. I also spent a lot of time doing community service, for many years, mostly with my church, bringing things to needy families and participating in vaccination programs. I am a cheerful woman who is an excellent company, and I want to thank you for your consideration as a resident physician in your noble institution.

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