It is said that the best healers are the wounded ones. I didn’t understand what that meant until I became wounded, myself.
My passion for emergency medicine goes way back to my own personal crisis. I remember the time when my father went into cardiac arrest—right while he was driving. He was rushed to nearest hospital, where he and emergency personnel fought an uphill battle to save his life.
I had never seen so many syringes before. One after another, the nurse was pumping their contents into the IV connected to my father’s arm. I was captivated by this unfamiliar, frantic, yet flawlessly organized environment: the Emergency Room. Amidst the organized chaos, we hoped and prayed that God would heal him and spare his life.
God had other plans. Dad passed away later that night, and my entire world turned upside down.
Amidst the turmoil, however, I calmly remembered a vivid memory that had a lasting effect on me: It was the caring and methodical way in which the doctors handled every diligent step in attending to my father, and to us, his family. I only realized the full impact of this event long after the dust had settled.
I began to ask myself the critical question that all wounded people asked. What if I could offer other desperate people that very same sincerity and compassion during critical times? That became my urgent sense of purpose. Since then, I resolved to become an emergency medicine doctor, and my resolve has only grown stronger over time.
I knew what I wanted, so I dove right into training. A few years later, at seventeen years of age, I was again exposed to this environment. I volunteered at the Thomason Hospital ER in my local hometown. The circumstances were less trying this time, but no less meaningful—I could better appreciate the efficiency of the fast paced ED.
I remember one ER physician, Dr. Bhagat, whose passion for teaching stood out above all. He took me under his wing and introduced me to the field of Emergency medicine. He was a very patient mentor; he took his time to answer my questions, explain the disease processes, and gave me a firsthand look at many heartbreaking and uplifting moments he shared with his patients. I was enthralled by the wide breadth of his medical knowledge. I absorbed the notion of how EM doctors calmly and confidently rule out life threatening conditions while simultaneously trying to ascertain the most probable diagnosis. They are the front line workers with regard to influencing the patient’s treatment plan, many times without the luxury of medical records and just the raw clinical picture in front of them. Dr. B served as a shining example of everything I aspired to become as a physician and he naturally became my role model.
My own personal tragedy coupled with Dr. B’s training only further steeled my purpose. They drove me to serve in other volunteer capacities: volunteering at Brackenridge ED, working as an Emergency department technician at Dell Children’s Medical Center during College and shadowing the head of the department of Trauma Surgery at Vanderbilt during a summer medical internship. I practically lived and breathed Emergency Medicine.
Starting in 2005 I traveled abroad to Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and Nicaragua to serve and to learn about medicine in areas of great medical need. With a colleague, I founded Longhorns without Borders, an organization that continues to grow to this day. Here we trained students on proper History and Physical Exam Skills and allowed young aspiring doctors to interact directly with and be involved in the care of patients. During Medical School at UTSW, I continued these trips that allowed me to monitor my own growth. I volunteered as a translator for the Monday Clinic as well as the Spanish Interpreter Apprenticeship program where we taught students medical Spanish. I often participated in the EM shadowing program and EMSA workshops as well.
My desire to bring together multiple facets of various medical specialties and apply everything I learned in medical school drives my passion for EM. It also helps me balance my critical thinking skills and hands-on experience. During a single shift, one can perform a wide variety of procedures ranging from surgical laceration repairs to orthopedic cast placements to assessing new trauma patients. The vast array of patients and the unique presentation of the same diseases presented to the ER really challenge one to recognize atypical presentations, and most importantly, to watch for possible life threatening conditions.
It is only in Emergency Medicine that I find myself dealing with numerous possibilities of clinical exposure to human disease. Due to the critical nature of human condition in the ED, I find the very best opportunities for human connection and positive influence. During my EM clerkship, I gained the greatest sense of fulfillment and reward during times when I clenched the diagnosis, intervened effectively and saw my patients improve right before my eyes! I recognize fully that language barriers, communication skills, and various unimaginable circumstances can factor into a patient’s state of mind when they enter the ER. Nevertheless, their smile of gratitude or the sight of someone finally being able to breathe or to experience relief from pain invariably makes up for the frustration that permeates the ER before the patient is seen.
I also understand that the doctor/patient relationship in Emergency Care is often fleeting and short-lived, and while that is a challenge for me, it is what compels me to want to make the most of the few precious moments I have with each one of my patients. An academic teaching center is ideal for me because it is an environment oriented to evidence-based medicine—it is a place where I can constantly learn and grow from the best, fulfill my love of lifelong learning, and influence and mentor future generations of doctors. It also supports my interest in international medical mission trips, Disaster Medicine and Critical Care.
I aspire to become the kind of doctor who thinks on his feet, yet remains thorough enough to communicate effectively with his patients. I desire to be a healer who remains sensitive to his patients’ emotional needs while keeping his composure in moments of extreme pressure. My goal is to become a medical professional who is always responsible for improving the quality of life for each of his patients. With God’s help, I will become the kind of EM doctor who is on the front line above all.
I already possess the compassion, the composure, and the desire to be such a doctor. I’m now poised and ready to take the next step.