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Psychiatry Personal Statement #4

I couldn’t contain my excitement as my plane touched down in Havana. One of sixteen students selected to participate in a study tour of Small South American Country’s health care system, I was eager to meet Cuban patients and to learn about the delivery of healthcare in a country so different from my own. As I met patients, I began to realize that most of my colleagues were satisfied with addressing their patients’ physical illnesses via traditional (physical) approaches to medicine. However, while I found traditional medicine captivating, I also found myself drawn to how patients dealt cognitively with their illnesses, and how their culture, family, and life experiences influenced/governed their ability to cope with medical hardships.

Unfortunately, from my observations, the South American program I was involved with devoted scarce time to exploring the mental health of patients. This omission was the beginning of my recognition that I wanted more out of patient interaction than addressing a list of physical symptoms. The desire for a more holistic approach to patient care became more prominent as I rotated through clinical clerkships during my third year. Once again I observed what little emphasis was placed on identifying with each patient outside of their physical recovery. Exploring issues of mental health often seemed an afterthought, something I found extremely unfortunate if not unsettling. When I started my psychiatry clerkship, I was elated to discover that I had the latitude to interact on a more personal level with my patients, exploring their desires, history, experiences, and their mental well being.

What struck me most was the relationship between the ability to function in everyday life and the chronic nature and degree of mental illness. Additionally, through volunteer work for the uninsured at, I saw firsthand how underserved mental illness is in our community. This was again confirmed while participating as a volunteer at Camp S, a summer camp for children affected by HIV/AIDS. As a cabin counselor, I participated in activities with children from difficult socio-economic backgrounds who were affected by HIV. I discovered that all the children, on various levels, were troubled emotionally, with no advocates able to address their unique needs. This convergence of experiences has provided the framework for my desire to become a lifelong advocate for the mentally impaired. My advocacy would best manifest itself within child psychiatry, enabling me to serve a segment of the population where I believe I would have the greatest impact.

While I am fascinated by psychiatry, I realize that the work can be emotionally demanding. However, I think the privilege of being able to listen to patients’ stories, combined with the satisfaction of helping an underserved population that desperately needs advocates, will provide sustaining inspiration. I have also found that personal time away from medicine is revitalizing. Spending time traveling, hiking, camping, and with my family, friends, and pugs is relaxing and helps me return to work renewed.
I desire a program that offers the best of rigorous training combined with a holistic, balanced approach to life as a resident. My ideal residency program would offer a good balance of pharmacotherapy with psychotherapy, child and adolescent elective opportunities, and the possibility of cross cultural psychiatric training. Excited and eager to start my psychiatric career, I will bring my enthusiasm, strong work ethic, and ability to work well as a team player to your residency program.

Psychiatry Personal Statement #4


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The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a three-step examination for medical licensure in the United States. The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) sponsors USMLE.
The Three Steps of the USMLE
Step 1 tests the important concepts of basic sciences basic to the practice of medicine. It also places special emphasis on principles and mechanisms underlying health, disease, and modes of therapy. Step 1 ensures mastery of the sciences that provide a foundation for the safe and competent practice of medicine. It also tests the scientific principles required for maintenance of competence through lifelong learning.
Step 2 CK tests the medical knowledge, skills, and understanding of clinical science essential for the provision of patient care under supervision. It also includes emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention. Step 2 CK ensures that due attention is devoted to principles of clinical sciences and basic patient-centered skills.
Step 2 CS tests your capacity to practice and provide good medical service in real-life situations. It also tests your communication skills.
Step 3 tests your medical knowledge and understanding of biomedical and clinical science essential for the unsupervised practice of medicine. Step 3 provides a final assessment of physicians assuming independent responsibility for delivering general medical care.


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