My path to becoming a doctor was not easy. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a physician, but, in the Philippines, the costs involved are beyond the means of most families, and this was so in my case. I had been a straight ‘A’ student throughout school, thanks to my parents, both teachers, who had achieved their own professional goals in the face of many obstacles. My parents instilled in me an uncompromising work ethic that has served me well in life and continues to do so.
As medical studies were beyond my parents’ means, I decided to study nursing as a financially viable alternative. I loved my studies and did very well (missing graduating with honors by only 0.03). Having graduated from Nursing School, my vocation in healthcare was fully confirmed, but I still yearned to be a doctor. By this point, all my four elder siblings were successfully employed, and they agreed to help with the costs; my parents sold an asset, and, to my boundless joy, my medical studies began. I was determined to repay the sacrifices made on my behalf by excelling and not merely qualifying. Life was still difficult. books often meant missing a meal or two. However, I still managed to finish in the top 7% of my medical school class. My diligence was rewarded, and my relations’ financial burden was lightened, by the award of a highly competitive scholarship that entirely funded the final year of my studies. I graduated with honors to the delight of myself and my family.
Unlike most of my classmates, I made no attempt to focus on any future specialty in medicine as a student. However, this changed when I participated in the first of many medical missions in rural areas of my country. Each morning, I was tasked to assist Internal Medicine consultants and residents with pre-operative evaluations and clearance of patients scheduled for surgery; in the afternoon, my tasks were to diagnose and treat various medical conditions among out-patients; in the evening I attended to postoperative patients. I loved the diversity of the patient population involved in the work and the variety of conditions treated. I learned so much and so quickly that after four weeks of working in medical missions, I felt ready to hit the wards in my clerkship year. I joined further medical missions in my second year and my preferred specialty was fully confirmed. I was awarded high grades in Internal Medicine during my clinical rotations and, whenever an opportunity arose, I volunteered to discuss my patients’ cases in ‘admitting conferences’ and ward rounds. I was incredibly pleased to be invited to present a case along with a resident during ‘grand rounds’ while still in my clerkship in Internal Medicine.
Following graduation, I undertook a year of post-graduate internship at the University of Santo Tomas Hospital where I was awarded the Outstanding Intern Award by the Internship Committee. I was also the leader of an internship group that won the annual Post-graduate Interns’ Best Scientific Paper award. The group proved that the antimicrobial properties of electro-activated water were superior to common antiseptics such as povidone, iodine, and chlorohexidine.
Since my arrival in the US five years ago, I have been working as a cardiac/open-heart-surgery/medical/surgical nurse while studying to complete my licensure examinations. This has certainly not been easy, but I believe that this will confirm my work ethic and determination to succeed in medicine; it will also provide reassurance about my ability to work long hours where necessary. My substantial nursing experience has been enormously valuable to me and to my future patients. I have treated a diverse population suffering a very wide range of conditions and have cultivated an ability to remain calm and focused on potentially stressful situations, I have enhanced my decision-making abilities and have acquired a high degree of ‘bedside skills’. As a critical care nurse, I am responsible for coordinating the various aspects of patient care e.g., pharmacy, physical therapy, nutrition, ancillary procedures, case management, and home health. This has made me fully aware of the value of an effective team and how they are organized and motivated and I always strive to be an excellent team player.
I am fully aware of the special need to be culturally sensitive and aware in the provision of healthcare. I came to the US without any friends, relatives, or contacts and consequently understand the feelings of those who are making cultural adjustments. I have happily worked, studied, and socialized with people of many cultural and social backgrounds since arriving in the US and consider it an immense pleasure to do so.
I have had many opportunities to observe and understand the medical environment in the US through my nursing experience. I have also been able to observe many doctors at work, from the adequate to the excellent. It seems to me that the excellent physician distinguishes him/herself by an attitude of not only caring 'for' the patient but also caring 'about' them, and patients seem to intuitively realize when this is the case. I am determined to be an excellent doctor and Internal Medicine specialist.
My goals are to successfully complete a challenging residency in Internal Medicine and become a cardiologist and faculty member in a teaching hospital here in the US. I also intend to assist aspiring Filipino doctors by sharing my knowledge and skills as a visiting cardiology lecturer. I also hope, when possible, to provide some direct financial assistance to Filipino students with potential who cannot fully fund their medical studies.
I know that there will be many well-qualified applicants for residency in this popular specialty. However, I am an exceptional candidate. I have an excellent academic background, achieved in the face of many obstacles and I have substantial and relevant nursing experience. Still, I see my greatest give to be my passion and ability in internal medicine.
I look forward to fully demonstrating my capacity and resolve during my residency.