Sweat profusely ran down his face, and dizziness clouded his world. Though he was not feeling well, he ignored these signs and the repetitive, “Daddy, are you okay?” for fear that he would display any sign of weakness in front of his children. After several hours of denial, his body finally warned that all was not well, and the man collapsed in a pool of vomit. That man was my father, and I watched as he, too weak to stand and vomiting on his mouth and clothes, was transported to the nearest medical center with the help of my sister and grandfather. After numerous CAT scans and other tests, we learned that my father had suffered a minor stroke. Though he had suffered a stroke the day before, my father, against the doctor’s advice, went to work the next day to ensure that his condition was not a financial burden on our family. Seeing my father suffer many complications from diabetes and hypertension, I strove to learn more about these diseases by reading medical literature to see how they could be controlled and prevented. Watching my father sacrifice his health for financial reasons was my primary inspiration for applying to medical school.
My father was diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension when I was ten. His lack of treatment worsened his diabetic condition, and during my sophomore year in college, he was put on insulin. To this day, I am convinced that if we could have afforded adequate health care, my father would not have sacrificed his health, and thus he would not have suffered these complications. My primary interest in hypertension and diabetes is personal. I worked in Dr. XXXX’s lab for two summers, conducting two independent research projects on the correlation between diabetes and atherosclerosis. One of my projects was concerned with controlling connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) expression in vascular smooth muscle cells by thiazolidinediones (TZDs). In this project, we hypothesized that the diabetic class of drugs TZDs would reduce CTGF expression in vascular smooth muscle cells, reducing atherogenesis. We did an in vitro study and determined that TZDS did reduce CTGF expression in vascular smooth muscle cells. My research for that summer was recently accepted for publication in Atherosclerosis. I saw the importance of biomedical research in clinical care. In addition, my project has taught me about the effective treatments for diabetes, and I learned about the seriousness of my father’s disease. I learned about the health disparities among minority groups and those of lower socioeconomic class. This information further reinforced my determination to pursue medicine to counter these disparities.
I participated in an alternative spring break project in Logan, West Virginia, through the Premedical Organization for Minority Students (POMS). We visited the underserved areas of Logan and got first-hand clinical experience. I obtained skills in taking blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and urinalysis and used these skills while visiting senior citizens' residences. Through my interaction with the seniors, I realized that communication and trust are vital for a healthy patient-physician relationship. In addition to doing health-related activities, I talked to students from disadvantaged backgrounds about the importance of getting a post-secondary education. My goal in doing this was to give back to a community like my own because my environment gave me the proper foundation to become an intelligent individual. However, the most rewarding part of the trip was sharing my life story with the local high school students and how I found motivation in my disadvantage and used it to excel. It is essential for them to see someone like themselves succeed so that they are inspired.
My most rewarding community service has been with the College after School Team (C.A.S.T), a program that provides free tutoring and mentorship to disadvantaged, inner-city high school students at risk. My duties included tutoring during activities with the students and preparing them for college by working with them on standardized tests and college applications. I consider this one of the most rewarding community services I have become involved with because I am able to watch the students succeed.
After seeing firsthand the effects of the lack of health care in my community and the health disparities to which minorities and members of the lower economic rungs of society, I am aware of the need for physicians in medically underserved areas. As a physician, I would like to work to eliminate health disparities among minorities and lower-income individuals by making health care available to those who would not otherwise have access. Medical school would provide me with the skills needed to work to address health disparities at the local level.
Personal Statement for Medical School, Diabetes