The road to obstetrics-gynecology began with my fascination with women's health and has developed through intellectual stimulation, clinical satisfaction, and personal exploration. Prior to medical school, I volunteered and worked in women's health. These experiences led me to medical school, and throughout the classroom years I developed a keen sense that I wanted to further my passion through a career in obstetrics-gynecology. Finally, during clinical rotations I discovered my aptitude for surgery, obstetrics, and preventive medicine.
When I graduated with an undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cell Biology, I found myself with a highly technical degree that prepared me for basic science laboratory work. However, after one summer in an electrophysiology lab, I yearned for human interaction. As a result I took a position with Planned Parenthood to expand clinical and educational services to a clinically underserved area in North Lake Tahoe. Through this experience I created a novel high school family planning curriculum, developed a pregnancy prevention group that focused on the role of young men, and pioneered a mobile women's clinic to deliver health care to underserved women. I thoroughly enjoyed educating women and providing clinical services, but was frustrated by the limitations of my education. The limitations sparked my desire to enter medical school.
During the basic science courses I was naturally drawn towards the pathophysiology of the female reproductive tract. Wishing to apply this knowledge clinically, I became an active member of our school's outreach clinic for women. Once a month, under physician supervision, my colleagues and I provided Pap smears, STI testing, and exams to medically underserved women in the local community. I felt at ease discussing female health and illness with women, and it delighted me to provide services to women who may not otherwise receive medical care. Furthermore, in light of the high rate of cervical cancer in Nevada in comparison to other states I realized the importance of the clinical care we provided. After a few months of offering services, the number of Pap smears escalated and we were informed that the clinic may have to be canceled if we were not able to obtain funding. Based on Nevada's higher than average rate of cervical cancer, my colleague and I wrote and were subsequently rewarded a grant from AOA to secure funding for Pap smears. Obstetrics-gynecology allows me to continue to advocate for women's health and in particular, the underserved.
The summer after my first year of medical school I worked with my obstetrics-gynecology mentor. It was this clerkship that solidified my career choice of obstetrics-gynecology. This experience was my first glimpse into the daily life of a physician in this particular specialty. For one month, I worked along his side and scrubbed into surgeries, awoke in the middle of the night for deliveries, and saw patients in his office. I was constantly stimulated by the diversity of his patients and the variety of venues in which he worked. The opportunity to treat patients throughout their lifespan from adolescence to geriatrics and from puberty to childbirth and through menopause is particularly appealing. His dedication and pure love for women's health was infectious and something I hope to apply to my own practice.
Throughout my clinical rotations my interest in women's health was consistently confirmed. During surgery, I discovered my propensity for skilled procedures and ability for preciseness, but missed the follow-up and personal interactions with my patients. Internal and family medicine interested me intellectually, but I missed the hands-on procedures. During my third year, the obstetrics-gynecology rotation enabled me to combine the technical skills of surgery with the continuity of primary care. It also provided a venue to build trusting, long-term relationships with patients. My long-term dedication to women's health and thoughtful exploration of this career makes me an excellent candidate for residency in obstetrics-gynecology. My energy, leadership, and teamwork capabilities are all assets that I will share as a resident in your program. Thank you for your consideration.
OB-GYN PERSONAL STATEMENT
“Nancy, can you please go buy me some birth control pills?” my friend asked me in high school, as my first foray into women’s health. When my friend and her boyfriend were in a dilemma that involved a broken condom, she desperately shoved a crumpled $20 bill in my hand and asked me to go to the drugstore. It became very clear to me that she was not armed with the facts about birth control, sex, or the reproductive process. I gingerly explained to her the details as I learned them from the health books that my father had given me. This episode marked the first time I had an inkling that I wanted to become a gynecologist.
Every road since then has pointed me in the direction of obstetrics and gynecology. My first true insight to the clinical aspects of the specialty came during my first year of medical school. Wake Forest has a Community Practice Experience program where students shadow primary care physicians, and I chose to follow an OB/GYN practice. For eight weeks over two years, I shadowed the five doctors in this practice. What struck me most about their roles was their versatility. In one day, the doctors could go to the hospital to deliver babies, go to the operating room to perform surgery, then come back to the office to oversee clinic. They saw women old and young, pregnant and postmenopausal, sick and well. I enjoyed the diversity of the patients, the diagnoses and the treatment options that OB/GYN offered.
My decision to go into OB/GYN was further solidified after I did my third year clinical rotation. After performing many “firsts” – my first delivery, my first overnight call, my first closing in a hysterectomy – I knew I had found my place. I relished every opportunity to assist in the operating room, and even delighted in simple office procedures like colposcopy or pap smears. The rapid results that procedures, surgery and delivery afford patients are greatly appealing to me. Furthermore, I found that I was drawn to the willingness of the patients to heed the physician’s advice in health matters. While most patients in primary care do not even want to discuss issues like improving their diets or smoking cessation, I discovered that they are generally more receptive to do so when they are either pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
Beyond the manual skills required for surgical management in this profession, communication skills are of utmost importance. In few other specialties do patients come with such intimate issues and concerns so inherently challenging. Throughout my clinical experience in medical school, my evaluations reflected that I have an outstanding ability to establish rapport with my patients. It was not something that required a lot of effort; I truly enjoy interacting with the patients and their families. I plan to continue using this skill throughout my residency and career. I am currently learning Spanish because I had so many patients throughout my clinical years that could not speak English. I recently completed a two-week Spanish immersion course in Costa Rica because I feel that interacting through an interpreter inhibits my ability to truly connect with my Spanish-speaking patients, an essential in the doctor-patient relationship.
I am excited to join such a multifaceted discipline as obstetrics and gynecology. I believe that OB/GYN will fulfill my desire for a stimulating, constantly-evolving specialty that integrates the physical and emotional aspects of women’s health. During residency, I want to train with an outstanding academic program that fosters good team rapport and encourages a learning environment. I also plan to explore further training options in reproductive endocrinology and infertility medicine or family planning. Though it has been over 15 years since I first helped my friend through her pregnancy scare, the experience left a lasting impression that, unbeknownst to me, would shape my direction in life.