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When considering why I chose to pursue a career in medicine, there are countless answers that I could think of. Many students say they enjoy helping people; others say they would enjoy a profession that requires excellent critical thinking skills. While I find myself agreeing with a lot of these reasons, the most important reason for me is wanting to impact my community. Growing up in rural south Texas allowed me to experience what living in a medically underserved area entails. I was able to see how my community and many others around Texas are facing a problem with a lack of quality care with limited options in rural areas. My experience began with my grandma, diagnosed with stage four colon cancer when I was eight years old. At the time, I had no conception of how many people’s access to healthcare differed. Because she lived in a rural community, she traveled over an hour to visit her oncologist. Rural communities also face a lack of technology, specialist, and supporting healthcare professionals. After moving to a large city for my undergraduate and being able to volunteer at urban hospitals, there is a clear difference in the medical technology that rural areas seem to lack. Another adversity my community faces is the lack of specialists practicing in rural areas. Many of my family’s primary healthcare providers were not physicians but physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners. In my experience as a COVID-19 vaccine drive-thru volunteer, it because prominent how essential supporting healthcare professionals is. Much of my time was spent interacting with patients, nurses, and other volunteers. Through this experience, I saw how my community’s experience with the pandemic emphasized the need for more physicians. My family’s experience and volunteering emphasized how my aspirations of being a physician stem from wanting to be an agent of change in advancing my community.
In addition to making a change in my community, medicine represents a career that would allow me to be an educator and provide patient-centered care. Being a medical humanities major has allowed me to see the importance of public health. My experience as a COVID-19 contact tracer allowed me to see how detrimental misinformation can be. Many patients that I have talked to are misinformed based on information that is not reliable. Taking this perspective and applying it to my community, I realized that my community could benefit significantly from more public health education, especially with easily preventible/ controllable diseases prevalent in my community. In many medically underserved communities, physicians cannot build patient-doctor solid relationships because doctors must accommodate the shortage by taking a “stop and go” mentality rather than patient-centered care. As a physician, I would apply for my roles as an educator and build patient-provider solid relationships.
As I said before, I feel that often the importance of supporting medical professionals is overlooked. My interest in healthcare began in my junior year of high school when I enrolled in a certified nursing assistant course. I spent time in a skilled nursing facility during my course and gained insight into how the healthcare team operates. I discussed what career path would be best after graduating high school in one particular instance. She explained that while all healthcare professions are gratifying, physicians are what the area needs most. After high school graduation, I remained open-minded about careers and shadowed nurses and rehabilitation professionals. In these experiences, I was able to see how the healthcare team is much more collaborative than many think. My preceptors often would explain to me how they had to collaborate with other healthcare professionals to ensure that the patient was put on the best plan for their health. While shadowing nurses, I saw how nurses evaluate a patient and must relay the information to their primary provider. While observing nurses and therapists, I learned that doctors must be able to go beyond their expertise and consider how to help patients through a multi-prong approach.
There are many reasons that I want to be a physician. Above all, wanting to impact the community in which I was born and raised is a significant motivating factor. In my education, I learned how essential diversity in healthcare is. While Hispanics make up nearly 50% of Texas’ population, less than 10% of practicing physicians identify as Hispanic. While I think that good physicians should have the ability to treat patients of cultures different than their own, there has to be representation for the patients. Being a first-generation student that grew up in a culturally rich Hispanic community, my main desire is to return to my community and provide compassionate care to the community that made me who I am today.