The help as much as the hospital would let

Thebristles of the paintbrush swiftly, yet delicately, spread each andevery shade of blue, purple, gray, and green onto the smooth canvas. At thecomfort of my grandparents’ home in El Paso, Texas,I painted the detailed terrain of the Grand Tetons. Surrounded by dozens of paintingsscattered throughout the house, my grandmother, Grammy, sits next to me critiquingand guiding me through each and every craggy rock, pine tree, and ripple in thesurrounding lake. This was the last time we painted together, as a few months later, her breast cancer metastasized.  Prior tothis diagnosis, I was a freshman undergraduate at the University of Texas atAustin unsure on whether to pursue a career as a dentist or a physician.

Atthat moment, I was on the path to become a dentist, with the plan to take overmy father’s dental practice. This seemed like the ideal plan – to come out ofdental school with an established practice and patients waiting for me. But after Grammy’s diagnosis, itreally struck a nerve. I hated the fact that she was too sick to do what sheloved and how it affected our family emotionally. Every time I came into town Iwould 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 alwaysbrought joy to both of us, I wanted to ease her pain, care for her, and see herhappier and healthier. I wanted to directly help my grandmother. At thatmoment, this made my decision between dentistry and medicine clear.

I wanted tobecome a physician and dedicate my life to healing. For the following eight months, I volunteered in theemergency room at the Seton Medical Center to not only understand the dynamicsof a hospital, but to also help as much as the hospital would let me. Thedifferences these physicians made every time I came into the hospital was justwhat I was looking for. Many of these patients returned healthier and happier. Afterthe emergency room, I volunteered for the next four months in the oncologydepartment, a service that is held very dear to me. …(CONTINUE) Although volunteering at the hospital was rewarding, myexperiences shadowing exposed me to the challenges of medicine. The first timeI shadowed, I followed a general surgeon.

I saw multiple surgeries, whichranged from a cholecystectomy to an ileostomy, while on others, we went to theclinic. The second time, I shadowed a transplantation surgeon (and four residents),where I observed a kidney transplant, something I will not soon forget. While allthese procedures were extremely fascinating, and quite frankly, awork of art, I learned that the role of a physician extends beyond diagnosingthe issue and performing surgeries. I saw rounds in the intensive care unit, sawhow religion interacts with medicine (Jehovah’s witness), and saw the heartbreaking discussioninvolving palliative care. These experiences have revealed the challengesdoctors have to face all the time. While difficult, shadowinghas shown me that medical knowledge is most valuable when coupled with benevolenceand empathy.

 Besides all the care that is done at the hospital, I alsorealize how important research is to further medicine. During my third year of collegeas a psychology major, I worked on obesity and its effects on personality. Thiswas chosen to see how people change with their diet and how to help promotehealthy habits. Furthermore, the following semester I started a fundraiser throughthe Breast Cancer Research Center called “Draw for a Cure” to honor mygrandmother. The idea was that whomever donated to my fundraiser I would mailthem a drawing of mine that they requested. So far, I have raised $500 and have goals toexceed $1000. I admire the disciplineand responsibility research requires, and I hope to incorporate it into mycareer (REWORD). What began as a fun painting with Grammy has led to aninherent desire to pursue medicine.

Through my experiences volunteering and shadowing, I have becomeexposed to the challenges and realities of medicine. As an aspiring physician, Iwant to heal patients, make the difficult decisions, and have the extendednights. My experience conducting research and raising money for ithas led me to understanding the significance of advancing medicine. It is ingrained in mymind that I will dedicate my life to healing and I cannot wait to begin.