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Personal Statement: Do you think its okay if I talk about...

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by cheasus, May 31, 2008.

  1. cheasus

    cheasus 7+ Year Member

    May 12, 2008
    Hey all, I have a really interesting story about this surgery I was a part of in western africa. I was shadowing a ob/gyn and we were examining this patient who had a mass near her uterus that was very painful. She was also known to be hiv positive and was only in her 30s. A few days later, the doctor went into surgery to remove the mass and I had joined him. I had gotten to do an exceptional amount (considering I have no real qualifications) and actually participated in helping the surgeon. I would do such things as suck away blood, hold up parts of the body during cutting and suturing and clamp parts. It was a really cool opportunity and I love the idea of performing surgery.

    Heres the kicker: When the doctor was stitching up the patient I was holding apart some pieces and I suddenly felt something sharp on one of my fingers. I couldnt tell if the doctor had penetrated my glove and possibly my skin with the suture and I suddenly started thinking... this was the patient with HIV. As I stared at my blood covered hands, my mind started going crazy with possibilities for what seemed like an eternity as images of having hiv flashed before my eyes. I considered the possibility of doing something as drastic as amputating my arm. The possibilty that I would go into medicine and not live long enough to ever practice. I was losing my cool a bit. I didnt say anything during at all, i was frozen in time. I finally snapped out of if it enough to say something along the lines of: doctor, do you think you may have punctured my glove when surturing. He reassured me that he hadn't penetrated anything. I told him I was just worried because the patient was HIV positive and I revealed my thoughts. Then he told me: thats the next patient... I went and sat down and watched the hiv surgery after that, I did not want to get near it after that experience.

    The surgery experience I got outside of that (a couple of other ob/gyn surgeries) was pretty awesome and working with the doctor helped solidify my desire to become a doctor.

    So I'd like to use this for my personal statement but I dont know if the medical schools would consider it ethical for me to do so much without having any credentials. It was very influential in making me want to become a surgeon some day and I'd really like to include it in my personal statement. Do you guys think its too risky? Do you think its a good topic? Keep in mind that I just wrote this up off the top of my head in ten minutes, its not what my polished ps would say.

    Thanks so much for any suggestions!
    Cheasus :)
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  3. copingmethods

    copingmethods 5+ Year Member

    Dec 10, 2006
    This was my first impression, but I don't honestly know how it will be viewed.
  4. SaveThisLabRat

    SaveThisLabRat $700 Billion Dollar Woman 2+ Year Member

    Mar 26, 2007
    California *\o/*
    I don't know how to answer your actual question, but I thought it was important that I point out something here. If you ever find yourself having been punctured by a sharp object in the medical setting, I know our first reaction would be to freeze/be in shock/freak out. However, you need to immediately stop what you are doing, go to the nearest sink, and drain the blood out of the wound while washing. You know if you were punctured, and if you're not sure, take off your gloves and check. No matter whether it is an HIV positive patient or not, you never know what blood borne pathogens could be present.

    Next you will want to schedule an HIV test (if you are working on an HIV positive patient).
    Last edited: May 31, 2008
  5. brianmartin

    brianmartin 10+ Year Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Yakima, WA
    I would think twice about basing your whole PS on the idea of "loving surgery". This goes for any specialty. The med school personal statement is not a place to choose your specialty unless it really, really is your lifelong goal. The goal is to concisely illustrate why you are applying to medical school, so make sure not to over-sell the anecdote. I mean, it sounds like it was a really intense moment for you, but just reading what you have doesn't sound like great personal statement material.

    As for "ethics" - it's fine. Would you have been able to assist on surgery in the US? Probably not. But it's Africa, and they know that.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2008
  6. pianola

    pianola MS2 7+ Year Member

    May 23, 2008

    Well, it's an interesting story, I'll definitely give you that.

    I'm not sure I'd write my PS about "and here's what TOTALLY FREAKS ME OUT about medicine," though. I mean, it might send the wrong message or something :p
  7. Lacipart

    Lacipart M1 at UW-Madison 5+ Year Member

    May 2, 2007
    I would talk about it but don't emphazise how you did things you weren't qualified for. Say you were shadowing a surgeon in this clinic and "you really felt like you were part of the surgery".

    Also, did you ever get an HIV test? Not to instill any fear here but maybe the surgeon said the other patient was the one with HIV just to calm you down. Just a thought, I mean, I wouldn't hurt to be tested.
  8. locus000

    locus000 For my Viet peeps! 5+ Year Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    New Orleans
    you could use this for your secondaries. Add a few mention of this in the PS and you desire to be a surgeon but dont go in depth, then further explain this in the secondary.
  9. cheasus

    cheasus 7+ Year Member

    May 12, 2008
    Thanks for all the replies. I did leave the surgery right after asking the doctor and I took off my gloves and checked. There wasn't anything noticible on the glove or my hand. Still, I washed them both out pretty well. I did not get a test, it was about 10 months ago and I've been 100% healthy since so I've had no symptoms of hiv infection. Still, its probably a good idea to get checked.

    I think what I would emphasize in the story is more that I felt like I could really see myself being the surgeon in the future. I just thought it was an interesting read and I could twist it into being a motivating factor for being a doctor.

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