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Motivational Medicine: College Admission Essay Sample

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“Question one: An apple collides with an orange and the orange rolls ten feet up an incline. What was the apple’s initial velocity?”

I finished reading as my peers started calculating. Welcome to Gateway Science Workshop (GSW), a science enrichment program for undergraduates at my college. Questions such these push us to think critically, conceptually, and creatively.

I originally joined GSW to improve my performance in class. My grades went up, but of greater importance was my discovery of a group of peers who helped each other learn. GSW let me collaborate with and befriend fellow students at a competitive school. Though I eventually majored in biology, my work in physics at GSW gave me the confidence that I could succeed in science. It also inspired in me a passion for science and problem-solving that I wanted to carry through to medicine, aspiring to use my knowledge of medical science to treat illness and help others.

GSW solidified my interest in science, but it also made me more outgoing. When my peers and I solved physics problems together, I would explain difficult concepts to classmates who did not grasp the material as well. Sometimes multiple students would offer explanations, each in their own words and using different approaches — diagrams, analogies, or sample problems — that appealed to different learning styles. My peers were students of different backgrounds and abilities, and they increased my comfort in interacting with diverse people.

When I began volunteering at the local senior home, I planned to further test if I could work with and enjoy the company of patients — not just peers or colleagues — who differed from me in background and age. If I wanted to pursue medicine, I knew I had to be open and sympathetic with any person I met. Most residents welcomed my company as we talked, exercised, and painted pictures together. But the residents who most influenced my pursuit of medicine were also residents I initially struggled to relate to: Frank and Sharon.

I met them both in physical therapy. Frank was a resident who used an oxygen tank. As I watched him do biceps curls, I was nervous that he would overwork himself. He barely finished ten repetitions when he started wheezing.

“We’ll try something else,” I said when he looked discouraged. We broke his exercises into smaller chunks: five reps and a breather, another five reps and a breather. As we progressed, I hoped I was encouraging Frank. He was not unable to exercise, but only needed his exercise adapted to his current fitness.

After Frank was done, I moved to a resident dozing in her seat.

“Let’s exercise, Sharon!” I said, giving her dumbbells. She dropped them in her lap. I chose to ignore the dumbbells and strapped weights onto her ankles. Based on my time with Frank, I planned to adapt to Sharon’s preferences. Maybe she disliked arm workouts, so starting with legs might perk her up.

I learned from GSW that I needed to adapt to other students’ learning style. But sometimes all of the adaptations, all of the approaches still fail to generate understanding. It was the same with Sharon: I worried that I could not motivate her to exercise, that I could not convey its importance to her. My approaches were to tell her that exercise is fun, to sing her favorite songs, and to demonstrate the exercises. She ignored me and continued dozing.

A nurse told me that Sharon often refused to exercise. Perhaps strange environs and well-meaning but pushy people (like me) had discouraged her. Perhaps she was discouraged by a long recovery and her slow progress. Perhaps she found recovery impossible, just as Frank might have found exercise impossible with his oxygen tank or as my GSW group (and I) once found physics impossible. And perhaps Sharon was a tad irritated about her entire situation.

I placed my hands above her feet. “See my hands? Kick them.”

Wham! Sharon kicked me with the vigor of a soccer star. She might have kicked me out of frustration, but she finished all of her exercises amiably. I had found a way to connect and engage with Sharon.

In that regard, my experiences with GSW and the senior home were similar: the goal in both places was to connect and enable. I connected to both students and residents by sympathizing with and addressing — not ignoring — individual concerns and preferences such as learning style or level of fitness. Then, finding a way to work with those individual aspects, I enabled them nonetheless to achieve their goals.

Mather and GSW synergized with each other, strengthening and confirming my pursuit of medicine. They taught me that medicine requires both love of science and compassion for people. When I met Frank, for example, I had made his exercises doable, but I still could not address the reason he needed an oxygen tank in the first place. As a doctor, though, I will be able to explain to Frank why he needs an oxygen tank and what he can do to hasten his recovery as well as provide emotional support while he recuperates. As a doctor, I will be able to make a deeper impact and have the ability to address all aspects of helping people become healthier.

Remember: This is just a sample from a fellow student.

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Motivational Medicine: College Admission Essay Sample. (2018, May 28). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 7, 2023, from
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