Talk about ADHD in PS

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Endoxifen

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I'll be applying next cycle, so this is a bit preemptive, but I'm writing some similar PS's now and I thought I'd vet this idea. I realize that this would be taking a risk and the prevailing wisdom is to avoid that. Still, I feel that I could write a unique and extremely personal PS with ADHD as a thread to follow, not the topic itself.

I don't want to go into too much detail about the essay, but in short, it will follow my developing interest in oncology and my switch from PhD track to MD track. The reason that I want to talk about ADHD is because I noticed an interesting parallel between my compensatory behaviors and a sterile, mechanistic understanding of cancer (the one I held when I wanted a PhD). I will talk about how I idealized the clockwork nature of cancer, but this changed after I personally experienced the cancer's real human cost. In the end, I took responsibility for my old point of view by not rejecting, but integrating it into a greater understanding of the disease and how this lead me to want to be a physician-scientist.

As I've said, I'm purposefully glossing over the subtleties and nuance of the essay. I promise that I have been as careful as possible with the topic of cancer and I have not made any unjust comparisons between the severity of ADHD and cancer. This isn't an essay about how I've "suffered" from the disorder. Nor is it melodramatic or overly self indulgent about the cancer in the family. I don't want this to be another "my grandma died and it made me want to be a doctor" essay. My goal is for this to be an honest self reflection on a critical period of growth in my life.

I'm posting here because, in order to do this, I will have to admit that I have ADHD. ADHD may have caused me some problems, but I've been enormously successful. I have a 3.98 GPA, I've won honors and awards, and am soon to have multiple papers to my name. Up until last week, these ADHD behaviors were just a part of my life that I had to deal with. Still, now that it has a name, a diagnosis, and a prescription, it could become a source of prejudice. ADHD would be a really powerful literary tool for the essay, but is the cost too high?

Any comments and advice are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your help!
 

efle

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What is lost by leaving out the ADHD? Can you not just write about how you had this abstract, scientific view of cancer that was changed by personal experience, without any mention of attention disorder? Like even if there wasn't a risk of prejudice, it just seems kind of shoehorned in to say that's why you had the first type of view.
 

sliceofbread136

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God no, do not include any single mention of psychiatric disease. There is a strong bias against this in the medical community and it will 100% hurt you
 
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Lawper

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Unfortunately, psychiatric illnesses have a very strong stigma in medical community. @Goro says med schools are like furnaces that will break even healthy students. Mentioning ADHD is a bad idea.
 
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Endoxifen

Endoxifen

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Unfortunately, psychiatric illnesses have a very strong stigma in medical community. @Goro says med schools are like furnaces that will break even healthy students. Mentioning ADHD is a bad idea.
That's why I went to the doctor in the first place. I haven't had any serious problems, but I wanted to cover all my bases. It turns out that it was totally the right move.
 
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Endoxifen

Endoxifen

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What is lost by leaving out the ADHD? Can you not just write about how you had this abstract, scientific view of cancer that was changed by personal experience, without any mention of attention disorder? Like even if there wasn't a risk of prejudice, it just seems kind of shoehorned in to say that's why you had the first type of view.
It's not like I can't tell the same story without the ADHD, but when I sat down, it just wrote. There are a bunch of interesting parallels between my habits and cancer. More importantly, my focus ebbed and flowed with my development. It just seemed to provide a level of connective tissue that earlier drafts lacked. However, I wasn't expecting everyone else be so unequivocal in their dissent. Maybe I should take another crack at it or find a way to euphemistically talk about the same things.
 
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Kingsmen2018

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"this is why you shouldn't accept me into your program" is essentially what you would have wrote.

Just because it is ur reason u should be a doctor I'm sure its not the only one. In any case, good luck mate
 

DBC03

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Everyone likes stories and it sounds compelling. However, I can see how this could lead to problems down the line. You're pretty far out so keep writing, but if you can find the same way to tell the story without actually talking about ADHD it sounds like it could be interesting.

But I probably totally screwed up my PS and so perhaps you should only consider my advice around this time next year if I have an actual acceptance in hand...
 
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Endoxifen

Endoxifen

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"this is why you shouldn't accept me into your program" is essentially what you would have wrote.

Just because it is ur reason u should be a doctor I'm sure its not the only one. In any case, good luck mate
Thanks for being so frank! The people in my life seemed really supportive of the idea, but I was still nervous about it. I knew if I came here, people would tell me straight. Anyway, it's still early days. I'm sure I can make something of this.
 
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efle

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It's not like I can't tell the same story without the ADHD, but when I sat down, it just wrote. There are a bunch of interesting parallels between my habits and cancer. More importantly, my focus ebbed and flowed with my development. It just seemed to provide a level of connective tissue that earlier drafts lacked. However, I wasn't expecting everyone else be so unequivocal in their dissent. Maybe I should take another crack at it or find a way to euphemistically talk about the same things.
No amount of added literary wow factor is worth using the subject matter, imho. Statements don't need to be masterpieces of writing style/structure as much as they need to have the right (read: safe) content. You have plenty to write a "why medicine" narrative on without bringing it up!
 
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Tenk

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It's not like I can't tell the same story without the ADHD, but when I sat down, it just wrote. There are a bunch of interesting parallels between my habits and cancer. More importantly, my focus ebbed and flowed with my development. It just seemed to provide a level of connective tissue that earlier drafts lacked. However, I wasn't expecting everyone else be so unequivocal in their dissent. Maybe I should take another crack at it or find a way to euphemistically talk about the same things.
Is your ADHD going to kill you? Because that's pretty much the only parallel with cancer that anyone would care about. Don't mention it.
 
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Endoxifen

Endoxifen

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Is your ADHD going to kill you? Because that's pretty much the only parallel with cancer that anyone would care about. Don't mention it.
Yeah, with a little distance, I can see this was a terrible idea. I couldn't see forest through the trees. Thank you for the help. I appreciate it.