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App Essay - Partner with HIV?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by zidrem, Dec 30, 2008.

  1. zidrem

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    Hi everyone,

    I am relatively new to this forum and decided to post here because I have a problem that has been concerning me lately regarding the primary application essay. There is a really obvious experience that changed my life drastically, which I want to write about; but I am worried that it may be inappropriate and a poor choice that may hurt me.

    Basically, I am gay, and I have a boyfriend who lives in China; we have been together for nearly 3 years now and always see each other during the summer and during breaks. We are very in love with each other, and it is not the type of transient relationship characteristic of people my age. Last summer (which I spent in China doing a medical internship at a hospital), I suggested that we both get tested for HIV.. and very sadly it turned out that he was positive (and probably has been for many years given his CD4 count ~350).

    At that time I became very stressed (even concerned about the possibility of my having HIV too, despite our mostly low-risk behavior), and even had feelings of wanting to go home to the US early and just abandon him and his problem. However, I was sitting in the hospital, and I watched his face as the doctor told him about his status; because I shared that experience with him (and because I love him, obviously), I felt like I had a responsibility to help him cope with his status and learn as much as possible about what he needs to do to stay strong. After the initial shock, we spent a few pretty miserable weeks together, in which we waited for confirmation of his status, and the results of a CD4 test from the cdc. Ultimately, we pulled through the initial misery, and began to accept this reality; since then I got him in contact with an American doctor at the hospital that I was interning at (because neither me nor my boyfriend trust Chinese doctors that much), and my boyfriend is in very good spirits and making some great changes to his lifestyle to stay as healthy as possible. Whenever the doctors suggest a medication for my boyfriend, I always read research articles about the given drug and help explain to him how it will/won't affect him. Also I now spend a considerable amount of time reading research papers and studies regarding dietary/lifestyle factors and how they affect people with HIV, in order to give him the best advice.

    Of course, my boyfriend's HIV status doesn't affect my love for him; we are still together, and both of us are doing quite well these days, despite what we learned over summer. Before this summer, I had a lot of doubts about going into the medical field (actually I am an electrical engineering/biomedical eng major, and was probably planning on being an engineer); now, however, I have no doubts about going into medicine, and I really wish I could ultimately have the opportunity to do research regarding HIV treatments.

    Anyway, I would like to make my experience at least some portion of my essay, as it is by far the most glaring factor affecting my decision. However there are some problems:
    1. I am primarily concerned that some homophobe will read it, and develop a bias against me because I am gay
    2. I am concerned that me and my boyfriend's experience sounds a little over-the-top, and that people will not believe it is true and think I am writing a load of bullcrap (although it seems the details I can provide and the fact that I am being honest should hopefully prevent this)

    Unfortunately, if I choose not to use this experience for those reasons, then I will have to bulls**t and lie about some other, lesser experience that has made me interest in medicine; unfortunately I am a bad liar, and the essay would likely sound rather synthetic in that case.

    In the end, I don't have to rely on the essay as a "crutch," because my GPA and MCAT are fine, and so I guess it is not a huge deal. I realize this is a problem that probably doesn't apply to much (if any) people here.. so I really appreciate your advice and time spent reading about my situation; sorry for the length.
     
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  3. 236116

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    are you allowed to disclose his status like that?
     
  4. Retsage

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    Of course he is. He's not his boyfriend's doctor.
     
  5. PromisingCapita

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    I second that opinion and think it is unethical to share someone's status like that. You can decline to state his name, but they will know your name and thus reveal his identity by proxy.
     
  6. Retsage

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    Uh, no it won't?

    There's no worldwide registry of gay couples.
     
  7. copingmethods

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    As long as his boyfriend is okay with it, there's nothing wrong with it.
     
  8. cavalier329

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    if that's your reason then write about it. If you get rejected because of a "homophobe" then so be it. Would you really want to go to that institution anyway?
     
  9. smq123

    smq123 John William Waterhouse
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    - First, :thumbup: to you for sticking by your boyfriend during such a difficult time. I hope he's doing well.

    - To be honest, while I'm sure that it was a life-changing experience, this is a pretty weak reason to become a physician. If you really want to "ultimately have the opportunity to do research regarding HIV treatments," you will probably not have this opportunity as a physician.

    Unless you are applying as an MD/PhD, or applying exclusively to extremely research-heavy schools, your arguments do not make you sound like a strong candidate for clinical medicine. You may unnecessarily limit yourself to certain schools for this reason.

    There are MANY other, better avenues to do HIV research - pharmacy, engineering, microbio/virology, etc.

    My biggest concern with people who have one single purpose/incident that motivates them to go into medicine is that there is a LOT of crap that you have to endure that is not related to your primary interest. In your case, there is much more to medicine than just HIV....and you will have to know that stuff as well. I think you are better off writing about what general reasons drive you to pursue medicine, and not just this one specific reason.
     
  10. PromisingCapita

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    There's civil unions
     
  11. Artimacia

    Artimacia can do stuff real good
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    I was about to say, as long as he's ok with it, should be fine
     
  12. zidrem

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    Regarding the disclosure of his status,
    A: He is a Chinese citizen (and not a US citizen), so even if I were to disclose his full name (which I wouldn't), it would be impossible for them to trace it any way
    B: He doesn't mind at all
    C: I don't think I am in any legal situation where I am not permitted to disclose his status anyway

    Regarding this being a poor/insufficient reason for going into medicine, it would not be the ONLY constituent of my essay. His status is not the one and only reason I have chosen this path in medicine (clearly I had interest in it previously as I have been satisfying pre-med requirements), it is just what finally gave me the feeling of "there is no other satisfying career choice." I have worked with physical therapists in a rehabilitation hospital for hundreds of hours, and I also worked with the anesthesiology department in the Chinese hospital 3 months over summer for 40 hours a week; so I do have other experiences that speak to my interest in medicine; also my GPA is a 3.9, so clearly I am not just in it for kicks (and hopefully adcoms will see that).

    I guess I am more just interested in what "take" you think people would have on this kind of essay. Cavalier, I think you made a really good point; I guess I wouldn't really want to bother with an institution that is low enough to discriminate on a basis like that.
     
  13. Rooni

    Rooni Ph.D in Horribleness
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    I'm probably going to talk about my mother's struggle with breast cancer in my personal statement. Is that unethical, too? Lol. Since he loves his boyfriend enough to stick with him through a diagnosis of HIV, I'm assuming he loves him enough to ask his permission to use the story in his personal statement.

    I think if you spin it well, it'll work just fine. I would talk about his doctors and your experience with them, as well as your experiences helping him with his medical issues, researching his illness, etc. Any time you write about an issue so dear to your heart you risk sounding over-the-top, but if you do it well, it's a great way to catch the reader's attention. There probably aren't a lot of med school applicants who have a partner with HIV. And like someone said before me, if the person reading it rejects you because you're gay...f*ck 'em. There will be plenty of people who won't care a bit, and probably some who will even be more sympathetic toward you because of it. It'll all balance out in the end.
     
    #12 Rooni, Dec 30, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2008
  14. smq123

    smq123 John William Waterhouse
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    You're misunderstanding where I am coming from.

    Lots of people have an interest in medicine and satisfy pre-med requirements (just like you), but few of those people are able to clearly articulate why they chose medicine SPECIFICALLY over other careers.

    Having volunteered on SDN to read personal statements in the past, I cannot tell you how many people have said, "My experiences as a paramedic/nurses aide/ER tech speak to my interest in medicine, and have showed me that I ought to be a doctor!"

    Uh....huh? When I asked those people, "Well, why not just be a paramedic, instead of a doctor?," none were able to give a coherent answer. Their interest in medicine is there, but it is focused on a highly specific field of medicine.

    Based on your initial post, it seems like you have a great essay that will explain why you want to be an ID physician, or why you want to be an HIV researcher. None of this, however, speaks to why you want to be a physician in general.

    If you want to mention your boyfriend's situation, and how it added to your interest to be a doctor, then that's up to you. The issue of how open to be with your sexual orientation comes up frequently on SDN, and never gets definitively resolved. But I don't think that you will help yourself by making it the main point of your personal statement, simply because it will muddy your explanation of your motives for becoming a physician.
     
  15. smq123

    smq123 John William Waterhouse
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    If I were an adcom, I'd also want to know how you guys plan on keeping this relationship going if one of you is in medical school or is a resident. You don't really get a lot of summer breaks as a med student, and your vacation time keeps shrinking with each passing year of school.

    They're not illegal questions of the applicant brings it up first....
     
  16. MedicalSonata

    MedicalSonata Friendly Pre-Med, PM me!
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    Is the guy chinese? How exactly did you meet a chinese guy living in China? (Just curious is all)

    It's okay for him to write about him, it's not unethical. No one calls it unethical when someone on here talks about they will write their essay on their grandma living with cancer, eh?

    Congrats on sticking with him through this hard time - shows your character, and I think that's a character they want in medical school applicants.
     
  17. zidrem

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    Ok smq, I understand more where you are coming from now; perhaps this type of statement will make it look too much like I am hinging on a single experience as a reason for wanting to go into medicine; I was planning on also including a couple of experiences from my volunteering work as well, but at a certain point I have to pick and choose what to use, as to prevent it from becoming too lengthy. Unfortunately with the topic of his HIV, it is difficult to describe the meaning of it to me in very few words, so it seems as though if I can only briefly touch on it, I might as well not touch on it at all, and save the risk of being discriminated against.

    I guess my question to you then would be, if I shouldn't write about this kind of experience, then what should I write about (in a general sense)? I could just write more about my volunteer experiences, but this would just be more examples of dealing with people in poor medical conditions (similarly to dealing with my boyfriend)... in the end, whether you are takling about working with people in a hospital, or a partner/family member, it seems as most people speak to to how some experience made you realize the importance of modern medicine and motivated you to pursue it. In the end, we're all human and don't really have foolproof evidence to support the decisions we make.

    I suppose alternatively I can focus more on my experience with the anesthesiologists over the summer, the interesting things I learned about the medical profession, and what aspects and angles of their work confirmed that this occupation is appropriate for me; obviously this type of essay would be a little less passionate (though maybe more appropriate given what you have told me). My only concern is that the hospital was in China, and so I feel like US doctors might not feel that it is a "legit" experience that speaks to the way medicine is done in the US (even though all of the procedures there are much the same).

    Sorry, I know it is clearly not your responsibility to help me with this essay, and I really do appreciate your suggestions. I guess I am just trying to understand all of the weird mysticism that surrounds these things; you can't require someone to have been a doctor in order for them to prove their desire to be one.
     
  18. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    An old lady dying from cancer is not considered as private as a young adult male with HIV. There is stigma associated with the latter, not the former. If you can't tell the difference, that's pretty sad. In reality, being a gay man who is involved with someone who is HIV+ will lead to more discrimination than being a member of any race. Gay people are (by far) the most discriminated minority in the country, and you'd be a fool not to take that into consideration when preparing your application.

    OP I know several gay people who matriculated into what I would consider conservative institutions so I think you might be okay. There is really nothing you can do about personal biases, though... its not like you can control what someone thinks. If I were you, I'd like to say that I would still write what you originally proposed just to stay true to myself. But you never know, you know?
     
  19. zidrem

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    Haha, regarding how we met, the summer before I started undergrad, I got a scholarship to study chinese at a university in shanghai (because I had won some chinese speech competition for native english speakers). Actually when I arrived on the campus there for the first time, no one was there to help me get situated or figure out where I was supposed to be (it was extremely stressful!), so I basically started desperately asking students on the campus if they had any clue where a foreign student should be going. Anyway I finally met this girl that was extremely helpful and helped me find the international student dorm and such.. and we ended up becoming really good friends; ultimately she figured out that I was gay and introduced me to my current boyfriend. We kind of instantly were very attracted to each other and spent every single day together that summer. I speak chinese and he speaks english, so there are no communication barriers or things like that.

    As far as how I plan to maintain the relationship throughout med school... I guess our best bet is that he will get his MBA in the next year, and given his work experience/excellent English skills, it seems that he might be able to get a job in the US, which would make things more reasonable for us. If something like that doesn't work out, I am confident that we can make it even if we can only have little contact during those years. Honestly, I worry about our future too, and I can't say for sure how things will go, but I am confident in our love for each other and we are both more than willing to give it a shot and do our best.
     
  20. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna
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    you just said you can never know, so how would he know? :smuggrin:
     
  21. zidrem

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    Yeah, I understand what you mean cbrons; on one hand I wish I were "badass" enough to stay true to myself and write about that regardless of what others will think, but on the other hand I have been working so hard towards this goal for some time now, and it would be a shame if something as simple as that would have an influence on the outcome of my hard work. If all of my other stats are good, it seems as though the application will be fine so long as the essay doesn't do anything unusual to hurt me, and that is why I am concerned. It seems as though a "neutral" essay may just be better in this case, instead of one that tries to make me stand out moreso.
     
  22. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    well I know because I always know but he might not know because he doesn't always know because hes a human and humans don't always know, you know?
     
  23. julyjones

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    I think you should write the essay the way you're intending (or at least a rough draft) and see how you feel about it and have other people read it (hopefully people who don't know you well). The consensus of this site seems to be sympathetic, but the only way you're gonna know how an essay reads is to write the essay and have people read it.
     
  24. 229141

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    I agree with a lot of this Cbron- but at the same time people who write essays considered too conservative could discriminated by many of the liberal institutions. In my honest opinion a lot of the schools would find this an amazing story...but as others said you should check with your partner about this
     
  25. qmcat

    qmcat Heat
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    i agree with what smq123 and cbrons said. i also think you should stick with your story because it sounds like a very powerful experience.

    as for what smq suggested, i think you should include something in your essay about the doctor-patient relationship, or just something more social/inter-personal than just the HIV research. you should of course mention that you are interested in the HIV stuff, but also talk about if/how you like to work with people.

    and along with what cbrons said about discrimination, i would just apply very broadly. i think there will be a good amount of schools who will like your essay for the passion and boldness of the story, but yea, beware that a few schools will look down and discriminate. just apply to a lot of schools because you never know, you know? (haha cbrons)

    i think you can pull it off, just be careful when you're writing the essay. don't volunteer information if it's not necessary. focus more on the story and how you felt and dealt with the situation and how it impacted you rather than on the specific details of it like how you met and etc.
     
  26. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    definitely agree with you there... academia has little/no place for religious people.. well actually it seems just Christians... which is pretty pathetic.

    zidrem, do what you think is best. I understand either way and its hard for me to say do this or do that because if I were in your shoes, it would be a tough call. Perhaps, like someone else said, write out a rough draft and see how it looks. If you like it, go with it. If you do decide to go with the original plan and the school doesn't like it, well **** em, you got good stats and probably will have more than a few options. Good luck with everything.
     
    #25 cbrons, Dec 31, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2008
  27. Rooni

    Rooni Ph.D in Horribleness
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    That makes my brain hurt.
     
  28. MsKrispyKreme

    MsKrispyKreme The "Hot" sign is on...
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    While this is a touching story, I fail to see what it has to do with your interest in a career as a physician. It seems much more like melodrama, but do what you think is best.

    Adcoms might suspect that you are HIV+ as well though (or will be in the future).
     
  29. MILK07

    MILK07 Silence, I kill you!!
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    If you are concerned about a bias toward you because you're gay, you could always just refer to your boyfriend as your "significant other," which sounds less high school anyways, in my opinion. That way, no one will be focusing on your sexual orientation and will only be focusing on your powerful story.

    :thumbup: to you for staying with him!
     
  30. armybound

    armybound urologist.
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    I agree with this. You'll probably get a lot of interview questions about possibly being HIV+ and what you'd do about patient care and how you don't want to give it to patients, or how are you going to work if your health is deteriorating, etc.

    Not that it isn't an interesting story, but I think it opens a whole can of worms that probably doesn't need to be opened, given that the story you described doesn't exactly explain how it affects your desire to be a doctor. You could definitely tweak the story to explain it better, though.
     
  31. chiz2kul

    chiz2kul t.roll.ed for Banning
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    Agree with this 100%, how does this apply to your interest in becoming a physician?
     
  32. 236116

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    you get used to him.
     
  33. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Caring about the health of your loved ones is not a compelling reason to become a physician. What you want to be able to convey to an adcom is why you will care about a sick or injured person whom you have just met for the first time, and perhaps, how you might be a physician who will develop professional relationships over the years with your patients (if you choose primary care or join a practice in a small town where you will treat several members of the same family as "our" general surgeon and orthopod did when I was a kid) and how fulfilling that will be. Now, you can still express the opinion that HIV is one of the most challenging infections of our generation and that you would like to work on research to find a cure or vaccine but that is a whole different career, for the most part... if you are interested in pharmaceutical or immunology research you should be interested in it regardless of the disease you end up focusing on. Think of the people who went into ID fellowships in 1980 and 1981. They could never dream that patients with a disease they never heard of in medical school ended up being the major portion of their professional careers.

    Coming out of the closet in an essay can be iffy. You might want to save this for secondaries that ask about coping skills and then be circumspect: you had a friend get some bad news about his health and your coping mechanism was to learn as much as possible about the situation and to make efforts to connect him with the best care providers and to do some computer searches to learn more about the medications prescribed to treat his condition. Increasing your knowledge and doing what you could to be sure that your friend was getting the best care possible was your way of coping with this bad news.
     
  34. smq123

    smq123 John William Waterhouse
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    :laugh: I know, and I'm sorry. I remember writing my own personal statement a few years ago, and being totally stumped for weeks. You want to sound passionate and witty, without accidentally coming off as cheesy, sappy, cliched, or too "Miss Teen America"-ish. It's a tough task.

    Well, think of it this way. If your boyfriend weren't HIV positive, would you still want to be a doctor? If so, then why?

    I agree that most people talk about a specific experience that pointed them in the direction of medicine...because that's the only way that most people know how to articulate their thought processes (i.e. around a specific incident). It's much harder to take a generalized wish and consolidate it into a clear explanation.

    When writing a personal statement, think of it as writing a dating ad for an online matchmaking service. You have a short space to, basically, accomplish 4 things:
    1. Show people that you're sincere, and serious about dating/medicine.
    2. Demonstrate that you're not a "love 'em and leave 'em" kind of guy (i.e. won't flake out halfway through MS2)
    3. Show off a little bit of your personality. (What traits make you who you are? Are you loyal, passionate, funny, quiet, tenacious, persistent? Etc.)
    4. Show that you're not a total, complete, freaking weirdo. [Probably the most important one, by the way....and it's amazing how many people are unable to accomplish this one!]

    You don't need a "foolproof" explanation for how you KNOW you want to be a doctor. Lots of people have doubt, and even the strongest motivation takes a beating from time to time. But you DO need some idea for why you want to be a physician, instead of just an HIV specialist.

    (This is all ignoring the very obvious fact that you may change your mind about being an HIV specialist. I, like you, was very interested in HIV for personal reasons - although mine weren't as compelling as yours - and planned on doing internal medicine, and then specializing in Infectious Diseases. That is, until I hit my internal med rotation as a 3rd year student, and realized that I'd rather gouge my eyes out than survive 3 years of an internal medicine residency. Whoops. :oops:)

    That sounds awesome, and I truly hope that things work out like that for you guys. :thumbup:

    I just asked because if an applicant brought up the fact that their SO lived in a totally different continent, I would want to know if the applicant truly understood the time demands of a medical career. If not, I would wonder if the applicant really knew what he was getting himself into.

    Medical training can place a strain on any relationship - I have seen people get divorced during med school and residency...and these were people who lived in the same HOUSE! I don't mean to scare you, but I do think you should realize that if you bring up your SO who lives in China, people will want to know if you've put any real consideration into the demands and sacrifices that accompany almost any medical career.

    In any case, I wish the best for both of you guys. :luck: Good luck!!
     
  35. SouthernSurgeon

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    Agree strongly with #4. Applicants have this bizarre tendency to use the PS as a confession booth. I can't really see any positive side to using this essay topic that outweighs the potential negatives.

    Also, I think you will have to answer a number of uncomfortable questions at nearly every school - even if they are not prejudiced, people will want to know how you plan to remain HIV-free.
     
  36. IDoIt4Love

    IDoIt4Love Breathe...just believe.
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    I don't know if it's the best idea to use this for your admissions essay. The reality is, you are putting yourself at risk for developing HIV by continuing your relationship with him, and part of one's responsibility as a doctor is to try to keep themselves in good health so they can serve their patients better. That sounds like a pretty risky thing to write about. Perhaps you could adjust the story a bit, and say he's one of your best friends, instead? It would still be a pretty life-changing situation and certainly one to learn from.
     
  37. pianola

    pianola MS2
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    OP, I think that you're a talented writer and very obviously an intelligent person. Your decision is up to you. I think you could write a very effective essay about the topic if you were careful about exactly what you said and clarified your motivations for medicine. If you want someone to read your essay, feel free to PM me. I'm more than willing to help (also my name is on the PS reader's list thread that's been floating around).

    I think people on these forums tend to take what the OP says as if there were not events surrounding the discovery of his friend's HIV that may have prompted him to pursue a career in medicine. I believe that you could form a good personal statement so long as you really think in-depth about how your feelings changed as you and your partner went through this process (and perhaps even before it as it seems medicine was never entirely OFF the radar).

    That said, I do have a close friend who was applying to medical school with HIV this cycle (also gay). He chose to write his essays about his struggle with the disease and how, after getting HIV, he was more confident than ever that medicine was right for him. He was not accepted to any state schools with a 34 MCAT and 3.7 GPA (perhaps for this reason but there were likely other contributing factors; frankly we'll never know for sure).

    He ended up going the ND (naturopathic doctor) route, however, and he just couldn't be happier. He loves his school and he loves the area.

    Bear in mind, as others have said, that PS topics are never considered off-limits in an interview (even though those topics might be off-limits if otherwise not-introduced). So be prepared -- you may encounter some tough questions that you either feel are personal or intrusive.

    PM me if you have any questions. Also if you want to talk to my friend, I'm sure he'd be willing to share his experience with this whole medical school process. He's a very open person and among one of the most generous people I know. If he can do something to help others, he will.

    OK

    :luck::luck::luck:
     
  38. flip26

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    OP:

    My advice is to develop an alternate PS that has nothing to do with this topic, for the following reason:

    No matter how you slice it, a PS that is based on "my interest in medicine stems from the disease of a relative/loved one" is an overdone cliche - find something more original to discuss...dig a little deeper...surely your motivation to become a physician is based on something about "you" and not about someone else?

    Don't develop tunnel vision on your PS topic...you should be able to rattle off at least 3 completely different PS topics with no overlap...
     
  39. pianola

    pianola MS2
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    I think LizzyM's response kind of surprised me.

    Well, I doubt it's a good idea to say that the only reason that he wants to become a doctor is because he cares about the health of his s.o. But the situation certainly might make one question one's relationship with disease, one's strength of character in the face of adversity. I'm sure the OP cares about his boyfriend as a person, but this relationship may have opened up a quest for knowledge that was previously untapped -- with an understanding of how HIV can be such a emotional roller coaster, perhaps he saw a bit of insight into himself as a caregiver, as well. Perhaps he got just a little bit closer to what he felt would give meaning to his life in caring for people who are scared or afraid.

    But he's not coming out of the closet, though. Coming out of the closet is not the point of his essay. It's incidental that his partner is a man. It wouldn't change the story a lot if his partner was a woman.

    I guess I'm surprised you wrote that since I think in other contexts, you've said that ADCOMs are generally open-minded about issues like gay rights, etc. But I have no doubt that you probably have a better insight into this than I do.

    So anyway...my $0.02.
     
  40. flip26

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    I agree with LizzyM completely - I had not read the entire thread and did not see her comments when I wrote my reply to the OP just above you, but I am saying essentially the same thing as LizzyM, at least in regards to the issue of "motivation."

    I also agree that declaring one's sexuality, even if only indirectly, is a bad idea for a PS. Your sexuality is strictly personal and confidential information that really should have nothing to do with explaining why you are applying to med school...
     
  41. pianola

    pianola MS2
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    Any time you talk about things that matter to you -- relationships, marriage, adoption (laws) and children, hospital visitation rights, the way you dress, where you see yourself in 20 years -- (whatever) it is impossible to separate yourself entirely from your sexuality.

    How many people answered the question: "Where do you see yourself in 20 years?" with some part of "Well, I see myself having a family..."

    Straight people 'declare' their sexuality all the time: "My husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend [played a role in X,Y, or Z]". And while the OP's sexuality, per se, might not be the main factor driving him to medical school, his choice of partner has indirectly led him to a greater knowledge of himself and what he wants.


    ----
    Oh and OP, take what I write with a grain of salt since my PS was very, very different than what you are proposing: My essay dealt with just about the most commonplace events that you could possibly imagine. I think my PS helped me overall; I got quite a few compliments on it from interviewers. As with any topic, it's all in how you write about it.
     
  42. andexterouss

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    Lol. Very true. Bring out the kleenex!!:laugh:
     
  43. pianola

    pianola MS2
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    I would say most applicants end up writing about 'lesser' experiences. The deep, meaningful experiences we have tend to be personal. The real trials and hardships I've had in my life were not a part of my application anywhere. I frankly didn't think that it was any of the Adcoms' business to know too much about me. And hey, I got accepted at some good schools and I'm waiting on a few more. You can do it :)
     
  44. diosa428

    diosa428 SDN Angel
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    HIPAA doesn't discriminate between the two. There may be controversy about whether or not it's a good topic, but if you're going to argue that one is illegal or unethical to talk about, then the other should be as well.
     
  45. diosa428

    diosa428 SDN Angel
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    None of those topics belong in a PS. A PS is about why you want to be a doctor, not about your personal life.
     
  46. pianola

    pianola MS2
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    Your personal life has no bearing on why you want to be a doctor? :confused::confused::confused:
     
  47. pianola

    pianola MS2
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    I kind of agree with you, though, in a sense. I'm mostly playing devil's advocate.

    But then they should stop calling it a 'personal statement' and call it 'a generic load of cr*p'.
     
  48. diosa428

    diosa428 SDN Angel
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    OP, re: the gay thing - there are people out there who will say "put it in your PS, if they don't like it, you probably wouldn't want to go there anyway". Well, that's not true. Usually one or two people look over your application and decide whether or not to interview you. Then your interviewers (probably 2, maybe one might be a student) get your application, interview you and then fill something out about you. Which gives you about 2 - 4 people who see your application before the entire committee does, and gives those people a chance to crucify you before you application even makes it in front of the committee. So if you happen to get a conservative, 65 year old man who has been a physician forever, he could kill your app and you might not even get an interview. And it would have nothing to do with the school itself, just that one person.

    I concur with whoever said that you will have to deal with this in interviews. You will have interviewers asking you questions about HIV and your relationship left and right. They will ask you what you will do if you get HIV. They will tell you that you are being unsafe by continuing to date your boyfriend. They will probably ask about your sex life. They will tell you that if you get HIV you will be putting your patients in danger. They will probably upset you A LOT.

    Also, anything that has to do with a relationship has the potential to come off as really really immature and should usually be banned from a PS. I would highly suggest that if you talk about it you refer to your boyfriend as a very close friend. I know that that's not the situation, but it would save you from having to deal with the gay thing and the discussions about whether or not you could get HIV.

    Also agree with whoever said that you shouldn't be talking about your desire to do research in your PS. If you want to do research, get a PhD. Your PS needs to focus on your clinical work, shadowing, interactions with patients and understanding of the medical profession.
     
  49. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Everyone (with the exception of a few psychopaths) cares about the health of their loved ones. Everyone wants to know more and do more when their dad has a heart attack or gets prostate cancer. Would you want to spend your time doing the same due diligence for someone you've never met before and will never see again? Would you care as much if some middle aged guy walked into your office and said, "I did some stupid things while I was in out of town and I think I should get tested. Can you do that without telling my partner? I'm on his health insurance -- we're domestic partners." Do you want to take care of that guy? Do you want to have responsibility for the medical care of an obese, diabetic 85 year old woman with a stroke that left her with the skills of a 6 month old (does not speak or stand or manipulate objects, spoon fed, can bear some weight on her feet, can sit in a chair if propped up and belted in)?

    Those are the people who are going to be coming to you for help. Panda Bear has some scathing comments about the people he sees in the ED and his opinions of their lifestyles. Would you relish the opportunity to be their doctor?
     
  50. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    HIPAA doesn't apply because 1) the patient is not in the US and 2) the writer did not obtain the information through a covered entity (working or volunteering in the clinic, pharmacy, insurance company, etc). It isn't covered by HIPAA if a friend or relative tells you or if you read about it in the newspaper. (e.g. I can talk to you about Tom Brady's knee if I read about it in the sports page but not if I read it in his medical chart)
     
  51. ar2388

    ar2388 rads resident
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    i think LizzyM gave excellent advice.
    as for my own opinion, i think you can make this into an excellent person statement. it obviously affected you deeply and hell this is a PERSONAL statement no?
     

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