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Residency Radiation Oncology, Community


I am convinced that tragedy brings about the best in people. Losing my mother to cancer when she was still in her 30s turned her little boy into a fighter. My decision to pursue a specialty in the field of oncology was based on my cumulative academic pursuits and personal desire to contribute and make a difference in the lives of cancer patients. by the time that I was finishing up my undergraduate studies and taking a course in biomedical ethics, my dedication to the battle against cancer had become solidified. During three months of a clinical rotation in the hospice setting I gained an appreciation for the issues and ethics pertaining to death and dying that so often confront patients with cancer. This experience, along with advice from residents, faculty, and friends persuaded me to consider taking electives in radiation oncology and ultimately solidified my resolve. 

Before my decision to pursue radiation oncology was concrete, I explored my interest in oncology by seeking a research opportunity at Big University Cancer Center during my first year of medical school. After attending a talk by Dr. BA on the molecular mechanisms of TNF signal transduction, I became motivated to get involved. The next week, I began work with Dr. BA in the cytokine research laboratory and was introduced to cancer molecular biology by studying the background and current literature of nuclear transcription factor kappaB (NF-kB). The completion of my first project provided a strong sense of personal satisfaction, and I realized that the challenge of research was a means for me to express my creative energy. Dr. BA continued to support my budding interest in cancer research and I continued to “moonlight” in the lab during the following three years of medical school. 

I took several electives in radiation oncology at My Univerisity and Big University during my third year. My interest peaked and never diminished. I spent most of my clinical experience following GU and Breast cases, and was able to observe and participate in a variety of treatment planning and delivery sessions. I was gratified to be part of a modality that often combines the efficacy of surgery with the opportunity for prolonged patient interaction. I was also attracted by the diversity of cases that radiotherapy offers and the technical nature of the planning process. Finally, in addition to clinical exposure, radiation oncology introduced a wide variety of both clinical and basic science research opportunities. I was excited to contribute to studies that could eventually have a tangible impact on patient care. During these months, I got involved in several research projects related to prostate and breast radiotherapy, including a review paper, chart reviews, and a grant proposal involving NF-kB and radioresistance in prostate cancer. 

Over the past two years on the wards, I’ve learned that my biggest strengths are my ability to adapt to challenging situations and maintain a positive attitude. Clinically, I easily establish rapport with patients and others around me. I have strived to maintain a high energy level through self-motivation, diligence, and a sincere desire to contribute to my field. As a physician and trainee, I will have no reservation about seeking help when needed, and look forward to a role that involves teaching and mentoring. With an emphasis on translational research and patient care, I believe I can do this best in the field of radiation oncology.

During my residency I hope to obtain excellent clinical training and academic opportunities that will help to build a foundation for a fulfilling career in the academic and community setting. Most importantly, I hope to contribute ultimately to the lives of my patients and their families through service and commitment to the advancement of medicine. As I recall the events that led me towards a career in oncology, I remember the cancer patients that inspired me the most, and a statement by a hospice nurse during my graduate experience that continues to resonate with me: “there is something about cancer, in all of its tragedy, that brings out the best in people.” 

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