The help as much as the hospital would let

bristles of the paintbrush swiftly, yet delicately, spread each and
every shade of blue, purple, gray, and green onto the smooth canvas. At the
comfort of my grandparents’ home in El Paso, Texas,
I painted the detailed terrain of the Grand Tetons. Surrounded by dozens of paintings
scattered throughout the house, my grandmother, Grammy, sits next to me critiquing
and guiding me through each and every craggy rock, pine tree, and ripple in the
surrounding lake. This was the last time we painted together, as a few months later, her breast cancer metastasized.  

Prior to
this diagnosis, I was a freshman undergraduate at the University of Texas at
Austin unsure on whether to pursue a career as a dentist or a physician. At
that moment, I was on the path to become a dentist, with the plan to take over
my father’s dental practice. This seemed like the ideal plan – to come out of
dental school with an established practice and patients waiting for me. But after Grammy’s diagnosis, it
really struck a nerve. I hated the fact that she was too sick to do what she
loved and how it affected our family emotionally. Every time I came into town I
would make sure I had some sort of drawing prepared for her to critique,
whether it was a portrait of Johnny Depp or of my dogs. While this always
brought joy to both of us, I wanted to ease her pain, care for her, and see her
happier and healthier. I wanted to directly help my grandmother. At that
moment, this made my decision between dentistry and medicine clear. I wanted to
become a physician and dedicate my life to healing.

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For the following eight months, I volunteered in the
emergency room at the Seton Medical Center to not only understand the dynamics
of a hospital, but to also help as much as the hospital would let me. The
differences these physicians made every time I came into the hospital was just
what I was looking for. Many of these patients returned healthier and happier. After
the emergency room, I volunteered for the next four months in the oncology
department, a service that is held very dear to me. …


Although volunteering at the hospital was rewarding, my
experiences shadowing exposed me to the challenges of medicine. The first time
I shadowed, I followed a general surgeon. I saw multiple surgeries, which
ranged from a cholecystectomy to an ileostomy, while on others, we went to the
clinic. The second time, I shadowed a transplantation surgeon (and four residents),
where I observed a kidney transplant, something I will not soon forget. While all
these procedures were extremely fascinating, and quite frankly, a
work of art, I learned that the role of a physician extends beyond diagnosing
the issue and performing surgeries. I saw rounds in the intensive care unit, saw
how religion interacts with medicine (Jehovah’s witness), and saw the heartbreaking discussion
involving palliative care. These experiences have revealed the challenges
doctors have to face all the time. While difficult, shadowing
has shown me that medical knowledge is most valuable when coupled with benevolence
and empathy.


Besides all the care that is done at the hospital, I also
realize how important research is to further medicine. During my third year of college
as a psychology major, I worked on obesity and its effects on personality. This
was chosen to see how people change with their diet and how to help promote
healthy habits. Furthermore, the following semester I started a fundraiser through
the Breast Cancer Research Center called “Draw for a Cure” to honor my
grandmother. The idea was that whomever donated to my fundraiser I would mail
them a drawing of mine that they requested. So far, I have raised $500 and have goals to
exceed $1000. I admire the discipline
and responsibility research requires, and I hope to incorporate it into my
career (REWORD).


What began as a fun painting with Grammy has led to an
inherent desire to pursue medicine. Through my experiences volunteering and shadowing, I have become
exposed to the challenges and realities of medicine. As an aspiring physician, I
want to heal patients, make the difficult decisions, and have the extended
nights. My experience conducting research and raising money for it
has led me to understanding the significance of advancing medicine. It is ingrained in my
mind that I will dedicate my life to healing and I cannot wait to begin.


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