Personal Statement: Sample 1


Personal Statement: Sample 1
“I quickly scanned the cluttered table. All I had was all I was going to have—the
stethoscope slung around my neck, the dirty nasogastric tube, and my shaking hands.
“How’s she doing?” Dr. Gillian, the American physician yelled, craning her head in my
direction, needle in hand. Blood and amniotic fluid seeped everywhere, uncontrollably.
“Pulse is 60; respirations are sporadic,” I replied, as calmly as I could muster. “Her color
is improving, but tone is weak.” She is not making any noise, I thought, biting my lip. My
classmate, Julie, assisting the surgery, shot me a worried look. Dr. Msema, the remote
hospital’s medical director, and a lone nurse uttered a quick prayer. In the middle of the
Tanzanian rain forest, the practice of medicine unfolded before me. I relied on instinct bred as a
Basic Life Support instructor. With my left hand, I maintained a patent airway, and with my right,
I listened to her heart and felt her pulse simultaneously, all the while counting her halting
breaths. I rubbed her tiny body vigorously, triggering a weak, non-sustained cry. No change. I
reported the news to Dr. Gillian, busy sewing the womb, and repeated the automatic cycle. The
nurse calmly tapped me on the shoulder, motioning she wanted the baby.”Hapana!” I shook my
head no in Swahili.
“Lauren, it’s okay,” Dr. Gillian reassured me. “They’re going to weigh and wrap her.” The
nurse took the baby away, still floppy and blue-tinged. I trailed her next door, watching as she
placed the baby on the scale and bundled her in colorful cloth.
Growing up on an Iowa farm, Africa was more than a world away. My days were safe,
healthy and full of remarkable influences. My mother enrolled me in a local 4-H club which
became the springboard for my interest in leadership, service and immersion in community.
With my two younger sisters in tow, we camped our way through nearly all of the continental
states by the time I graduated from high school, instilling a sense of independence and respect
for people with different backgrounds and beliefs than my own. My career path coalesced for
good when I committed to serving AmeriCorps in a community health center after college. I fell
in love with primary care, public health and matters of social justice.
Once in medical school, I loved being on the wards, interacting with patients of all ages
and learning their stories, but despite my satisfaction, I sensed a dimension lacking in my work.
I saw the need to improve the health care delivery system but failed to understand how to do it.
After my second year of training, I moved to Washington DC to broaden my education with a
degree in health policy. I worked as an intern in Senator Tom Harkin’s office as a research
assistant to his health care staff, where I filled my days with analyzing data and preparing
memos on everything from SCHIP and Medicaid to health care reform, minority health, and
preventive medicine. My time on the Hill taught me what a unique and valuable perspective a
physician offers in the dialogue about health policy, health financing, access to care, and quality
of care. Despite the excitement of grassroots campaigns and the waxing and waning
momentum of health care legislation, nothing compares to caring for another human being ,and
I returned to medical school with a deeper appreciation of the intersection between health policy
and the act of caring for patients.


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