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Residency Emergency Medicine, Volunteer

The ring I wear on my right hand is a heart, held by two hands, and topped with a crown. Almost weekly, someone asks me about it. I proudly explain it is a claddaugh an Irish symbol, which stands for love, loyalty, and friendship. I treasure this ring for many reasons. First, it is a gift from my parents, who laid a solid foundation for the person I have become, and continue to be a great source of strength and ideal role models. They have taught me more than anyone else has about love, loyalty, and friendship. The claddaugh serves as a physical reminder of these ideals, which I seek to embrace and model each day. The ring is also a reminder of my Irish heritage, which is an important part of the many ways I define and identify myself. My favorite family event is March 17, when we all don our matching [last name] Clan; shirts, board and old fire engine, and slowly cruise the streets of St. Louis' Irish neighborhood as a part of the annual St. Patrick's Day parade and celebration. On that day in particular, we always take time to honor my great-grandparents and other ancestors who left their homeland to pursue the American Dream. They worked hard, which allowed their progeny to see a life rich with blessings. With the determination of my ancestors, and inspired by the ideals symbolized in the claddaugh, I have focused my energies to become a physician, more specifically, an Emergency Medicine physician.

Emergency medicine was not a field I initially expected to enter. I enjoyed all of my rotations as a third year medical student, admittedly some more than others, and found decision time upsetting rather than exciting. As I reflected on the year, I realized that the part of each rotation I enjoyed the most was the initial work up, actually going down to see our patient in the ED. My enthusiasm for EM was grew when I spent four weeks in our ED and another four in the pediatric ED. The variety of patient pathology and personality is stimulating. EM offers a unique combination of intellectual reasoning and hands-on work. I also appreciate the opportunity and ability to deal with any problem that presents. EM physicians are passionate about their field - a love for and loyalty to their field unlike any other specialty. The doctors also enjoy a friendship among themselves and with other specialties that is also unique to the field. EM physicians are on the front line, and get to practice the heart of medicine - diagnosis and treatment. The stakes are high and the scope of the problems broad, thus EM requires high standards and the best trained physicians.

More so than physicians in any other field, those who practice Emergency Medicine are given an opportunity to serve the community's under-served. Though the underlying issue, inadequate access to mainstream healthcare, is frustrating, it is an honor to welcome and provide care to those who would otherwise receive no care at all. Those feelings are underscored by the time I have spent at St. Louis University School of Medicine's student-run health clinic, the Health Resource Center. The clinic is located in an impoverished area of St. Louis City, open Saturday mornings, and all services are free to all patients. The clinic is an all-volunteer effort, and completely run by students. After serving as a student volunteer seeing patients as in my first year, I was privileged to be one of the clinic coordinators in my second year of medical school. I was involved in the day-to-day administration of the clinic, including ensuring each session ran smoothly and managing patient issues, in addition to working with the clinic's affiliated social service organization on larger issues, such as developing 5 year goals for the clinic. I enjoyed my role as administrator and was very sad when I had to turn the work over to the next group of students. However, I have been able to return to seeing patients, which is the most rewarding aspect of working with the clinic.

I have a vision of what my post-residency life will be like, though I feel God always gets a good laugh when I make too many plans. Thus, my plans are flexible, though clearly, I will hold true to the ideals of the claddaugh: love, loyalty and friendship. My experience with our clinic has been the most powerful experience of my medical career to date, so I expect to serve as a physician volunteer to an under-served population. Additionally I love for academia and look forward to the opportunity to empower hungry young medical minds. I find the teaching/learning environment very natural, stimulating, and feel it provides patients with the most up-to-date resources available. As I enjoyed my brief exposure to the corporate world and my experience with running the clinic, I also foresee a role in administration, with the possibility of pursuing an MBA. Above all, I feel I have been given many blessings and talents and hope to use them to give back in return.

Emergency medicine provides variety, an opportunity to use manual skills, a unique diagnostic opportunity, the chance to work closely with every other service in the hospital, and an excellent teaching environment. These are only a few of the reasons why Emergency Medicine is the career best suited for me. In return, I will offer a passionate dedication to the patients, to learning, and to teaching those who are willing to learn. I also look forward to forming new bonds with my future colleagues. In short, I will apply the ideals of the claddaugh, the love, loyalty, and friendship, which are so important to me in my personal life, to my career as an Emergency Medicine physician.

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