When I started medical school, I never expected to end up choosing Urology as my specialty. My medical school education was unusual in that I took a two year leave of absence to pursue research in oncology after the beginning of my third-year internal medicine clerkship. After completing my leave, I returned to medical school to complete my studies where I had left off.
The intent of interposing my research into the midst of third year was to allow me to continue the remainder of my clinical training uninterrupted, specifically via participation in the care of patients with diseases relevant to those I was researching. In this way, I was able to partake in “bench-to-bedside” translational research at its best. A prototypical example of this involved a quantitative PCR test that I set up which was able to detect microscopic levels of malignant cells with great sensitivity. With this assay, we were able to discover incredibly early if our patients had relapsed and then confirm whether they were indeed responding to their experimental therapies. It was an ideal arrangement which allowed my hard work in the lab to have swift payoffs for my patients. After enjoying two years working alongside internists, I was convinced that a career in internal medicine was for me. It was not until I began my surgical clerkships that my feelings radically changed.
There were many aspects of surgery which held great appeal for me. I discovered that, to an extent much greater than what I enjoyed in the lab, our hard work in surgery had immediate effects on the lives of our patients. Thus, by the end of the day I was able to begin to witness the fruits of our team’s labor: the cancer, stone, or bleed was already gone. I came to see the decisions of surgeons as something of great consequence, saving “life and limb.” Finally, I saw that the actions of surgeons are definitive in nature. Once a problem is addressed in a surgical way, it is often solved. This meant that we were able to offer our patients a definitive solution to their problem instead of simply buying them a little time. I became hooked on the allure of the rapid, permanent, and magnificent rewards of surgery. It took me a bit longer to realize that a surgeon’s mistakes could be equally rapid, permanent, and terrible. When things went badly, they went very badly. I saw that the rewards of surgery can only be realized with constant discipline and precision in both thought and action.
It is a balance that I am happy to accept. I am the type of person who flourishes when challenged. Because of this, Urology holds a special appeal for me amongst the fields of surgery. The diversity within Urology seems unrivaled to me. We see both males and females, children and adults, and acute surgery intermixed with long term outpatient follow-up. The interventions range from medical management to simple outpatient procedures to marathon RPLNDs. Urology always keeps me interested. At the end of each day, I kept thinking to myself “that was so cool… I can’t wait to see more.” My pursuit of a career in urology is absolutely fitting for me. While I am reluctant to prognosticate my future within urology, I believe my predilection for diverse challenges will be satisfied. I hope that my professional future eventually includes teaching as well as research - in addition to my primary clinical responsibilities. A mentor of mine once suggested that choosing a specialty in medicine is akin to choosing a spouse. With foresight, it can at best be an educated guess: you will never know with absolute certainty whether you have chosen correctly without the benefit of many years of hindsight. He advised me to follow my gut instincts. I can safely say that my guts are screaming Urology.
Urology Residency Personal Statement, Surgery