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Having been surrounded by numerous physicians and surgeons in my family, I have been enamored by the prospect of becoming a doctor since childhood. My father, seeing this, allowed me to spend a couple of my weekends shadowing him at his clinic in Irvington where I, a simple nine year-old child, was entranced by his skillful manipulation of peculiar instruments and mellifluous ramblings of terms like “applanation tonometry” and “digital retinography.” Of course, as an adolescent, this desire to become a physician manifested itself in reverence and wonder for the machines and jargon. However, as I began to mature and undergo metanoia through Catholicism, my perspective of medicine changed from a field where humans heal others to a field where humans mirror the healing miracles of Jesus Christ. As a devout Catholic, I viewed physicians as angels whose blessed hands manage to piece together lives bound and consecrated by God Himself. Thus, to me, medicine transcends the simple aspect of helping people and becomes a righteous career of defending the vulnerable and healing the sick as Christ did: a perspective which impels me to walk amongst my fellow physician and join the army devoted to mankind.
Throughout high school, I was given the unique opportunity to work in the cities of Irvington and Newark of New Jersey as an ophthalmic assistant for my father, administering tropicamide and tetracaine for pupil dilation, translating English-Spanish and vice versa for effective communication and assisting with laser surgery for physician efficiency and overall patient comfort. It was the experiences in these positions that shaped my passion for medicine, and taught me a vital lesson that all physicians must understand: medicine is a labor of ethics, academic talent and the religious belief of lovingly helping others without judgment.
Exposure to crippling diseases was practically a quotidian occurrence with glaucoma and cataracts threatening to blind the numerous patients that visited my father and I. I’ve seen the progression of treatable disease to permanent blindness and heard about the social barriers from patients that caused the avoidable to become the inevitable. With societal vices and financial burdens plaguing the populations of the neighborhoods I worked in, many patients sacrificed their own health in lieu of providing their children with education and its associated economic opportunities. This, in conjunction with the poor insurance structures and the substandard physicians available, made the hope of adequate healthcare impossible, thereby causing many to ignore and eventually lose their eyesight. Exposed to such poorly-funded medical environments with limited resources, I was amazed with the dedication and hardwork of healthcare personnel. It strengthened my desire to work hard and be the best-trained academian to provide help to those that need it the most.
Yes, while these work experiences do not teach chemiosmotic phosphorylation or the wonders of differential calculus that I find fascinating in class, I believe that it truly elucidates something more important: the underlying truths associated with the complex medical field and its numerous intricacies as a technical, humanitarian science. My firsthand experiences and conversations with patients truly showed me the social aspect of medicine that cannot be confined to the diagrams of a textbook and also illustrated the medical disparity in our own society: a problem which I desire to spearhead initiatives to resolve with a Stony Brook education. Furthermore, the compassion to which my father and his staff unconditionally cared for patients, regardless of financial incentive, truly made me cognizant of the wonders of medicine and the passion required to change someone’s life for the better as I am called to do through my religion and its Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Thus, these experiences are meaningful to me because they have been the most pivotal in shaping my path as a teenager, inspiring me to take my newfound knowledge of the true non-glamorous and often harsh reality in the medical environment and change it for the better.
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