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“Realize what your gift is, hold on to it as hard as you can, embrace and nurture it- one day it might save lives. ” This is something I think about very often and what drives and pushes me to be better every day. When I think of my ability to work with my hands, whether it be knitting with my grandmother, calligraphy for the school magazine or a vascular anastomosis, precision is what differentiates good things from great.
Surgery was compelling to me ever since I started medical school in India and once I was exposed to the operating room, there was no looking back. I was also driven by my need for attention to detail and fascinated by how a sequence of steps executed skillfully resulted in an immediate and lasting intervention. When I matched at the University of Washington for residency, I was finally on my way to realizing my goal. Now, almost two years into residency, the journey has been inspiring, fulfilling, challenging and even at times, tiring and consuming. This has given me a better understanding and insight into what a surgeon’s life entails. I’ve learned to thrive in the fast-paced environment and excel even under pressure. Every day, I am faced with complex decision making and strive to learn skills that will mold me into a safe and competent surgeon. And a surgeon’s role is not limited to the operating room and I see how the scope of surgery extends beyond using a scalpel. Caring for these patients post-operatively and building a rapport with them, and their families, has been deeply satisfying. I was in medical school when my uncle and aunt were both diagnosed with liver cirrhosis, a year apart. I watched helplessly as they suffered and eventually passed away because 10 years ago in India, liver transplantation was not common practice.
Today there are five transplant centers in the city of Cochin alone. This made me realize the impact I could have as a transplant surgeon and inspired me to work with a transplant team for a year prior to starting residency. I was truly heartbroken when a patient, with whom I had become closely acquainted over the 6 months I cared for him, died waiting for a liver transplant. At the same time, I also fondly remember a 9-month-old baby who was transplanted for biliary atresia and watched her grow into an energetic and spirited 2-year-old. I feel privileged to be part of the patient’s journey as they get a second chance at life and something good comes out of death. I know how demanding the job of a transplant surgeon can be but also how fulfilling it is to see a patient, who was on the verge of death, walk out the door. ‘It is said that great surgeons are trained, not born. ’ I seek a program that will impart a solid foundation to develop my skills and shape me into the exceptional surgeon I strive to be.
To my program, I will bring integrity, reliability and the drive to excel. I am also excited to be part of the future of surgery with advances such as stem cell research, 3D printing, and robotic surgery and acknowledge the need to adapt in a continually evolving field. I strongly believe I possess the qualities required to be a successful surgeon- determination, strength, confidence, and resilience. I realize the enormity of the task I will take on as a surgeon and I am humbled by it every day. For me, surgery is a lifelong commitment and I look forward to embarking on that journey with you.
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