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Neurosurgery Residency, Raised On a Farm

I consider my rural Kentucky upbringing, with all its pitfalls and limitations, to be the formative force in molding my work ethic and in maximizing my abilities towards a career path in neurosurgery. It was in this environment that I learned to be resourceful, learning that failure is sometimes life’s best teacher. In dairy farming, maintaining financial solvency is a difficult task. My father found it necessary to seek employment outside the farm. Fifteen years old and left to manage the farm on my own, I became determined to make drastic changes. Reading extensively through trade journals and books, I formulated an economical feed mixture for our herd that greatly improved milk production and made the farm profitable for the first time in 20 years. Multitasking as a mechanic, carpenter, accountant, veterinarian, gardener, and high school student, I discovered an innate desire to solve problems and make an impact in those situations that present before me.

In college, my interests naturally gravitated to the basic sciences. I obtained my degree in biochemistry with a goal of pursuing medicine, but considered establishing financial stability a priority. Therefore, I initiated a career in chemistry and engineering and worked at honing my methodical problem-solving abilities. With each employer, I made great efforts to make important contributions, and in return I was rewarded for both my insight and my ability to discover unique solutions to their problems. 

Knowing of my past interest in medicine, a friend from church, Dr.C, a neurosurgeon, invited me to observe one of his cases involving the excision of a meningioma of a 17 year old male. It was the first surgery that I had ever witnessed firsthand and I was drawn like a moth to a flame. The patient had fallen out of the flat bed of a pickup truck and sustained blunt trauma to his head. A CT scan of the head ruled out cranial fractures and intracranial bleeding, but revealed the ominous yet fortuitous finding of a tumor. Now before me, the tumor lay nuzzled between the hemispheres, caudal to the cerebellum. This young man’s brain had quietly been accommodating an abnormal growth disguised only by frequent headaches. Therein lies part of the beauty of neurosurgery. In just a few hours a neurosurgeon can improve on the mishap brought about by rebellious cellular replication and save a person from an unfortunate fate. To this patient’s benefit, it spared him from ever developing the mass effects of an ever-growing benign tumor. From that moment on my career in chemistry and engineering no longer seemed satisfying. After 11 years in the work force, I resigned from my job and set out on a new course. With a clear goal of pursuing a career in neurosurgery, I focused on my academic performance and achieved and maintained the top academic position in my medical school class. In addition, I learned an entire new language creating the cross over into a new culture and ability to reach out to Spanish speaking patients. 

Dr. C continues to be my mentor. With sound advice and guidance, he has inspired me to follow in his footsteps. With Dr. C, I enjoyed a memorable experience at the 2003 AANS meeting where I was introduced firsthand about various research projects with which he has been associated. Additionally, we traveled to the X Institute where I observed both state of the art neurosurgical techniques and ground breaking research providing further incentive and inspiration for me to be involved in the advancement of the neurosurgery field. 

I am interested in finding a neurosurgery residency program that can offer a diverse patient population as well as a diverse learning experience. With my past involvement in industrial research I also have the desire to be actively involved in research activities within the neurosciences. In return, I am confident in offering my enthusiasm and innate attention to detail and quality of medical care. I do not shy away from hard work, but rather, invite it and thrive on it. As always, I am committed to make a positive impact to my neurosurgery residency team through determination, perseverance and a strong desire to be of service through my endeavors.

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