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IM Residency, Iraqi Woman Doctor


At 32 years old, I feel that I am at my optimal moment to give my all to a residency program in Internal Medicine. I finished medical school in my native Iraq, and I fell in love with Internal Medicine since I have always seen it as the most complex area of medicine with the most mysterious problems that require a competent, hard-working physician to solve. I completed an internship followed by a residency position for one year that included Internal Medicine. However, by the time I finished my medical residency in 2008, I had already been living through the worst street violence in the history of Iraq for over a year. Doctors increasingly came to be seen as legitimate targets because we cared for the victims of the bomb blasts set by the terrorists. I finally could not take it any longer, and I fled for my life to neighboring Jordan, where I remained engaged in medicine (although unable to practice for legal reasons fully) until I was able to arrange my immigration to America. I have now been living in the USA for the past six years, and I have done everything that I have been able to do to stay engaged in and abreast of developments in IM, short of returning to practicing medicine. Now blessed with two children, and fully established with a beautiful, loving husband—who has promised to follow me wherever I go to practice medicine, taking advantage of the fact that he is self-employed—it is my time.

The 21-month-old nephew of my husband also died in a drowning accident, and I felt the responsibility of supporting his parents with all my energy to help them pass through the tragedy; and made my desire even stronger, leaving me hungry to return to practicing medicine because I know I can help people and support them in any severe condition of their lives. All of this, together with the obstacles that faced me when I first came to the USA, it didn’t stop me from insisting on learning more about practicing internal medicine in one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world. I have volunteered full-time in a four-week externship program at XXXX Hospital and Medical Center, in Detroit, MI. I assist healthcare teams with patient intakes, histories, and physicals. I feel very much like this experience is a laboratory for my re-insertion into the practice of medicine here in the USA, and I am fully engaged with the 6 ACGME Core Competencies.

At the internal medicine clinic in Detroit, in my externship program, where an elderly patient was admitted for a checkup complaining of chronic pain, as our team began to take history and update ourselves on her pain, I saw something off in the way that the was looking at us, as if she was hesitating to talk about it. I spoke up, asking her how she was doing in general, and she looked at me with watery eyes and said firmly that she couldn’t even take care of herself after the bathroom due to the pain. She started bawling, surprising the team and myself with the emotion behind the tears. I kept talking to her, asking her to open up more, and we formed a bond as she spoke about the difficulties of dealing with pain at her age and how her dignity was being taken away. When she left our office, she thanked me for listening and hoped to talk to me the next time she came in, and I was most impressed that these relationships I can make and these emotional bonds that extend beyond a single hospital trip, were what I wanted. I want to help families, the elderly, and many of my patients throughout their whole lives and improve the health of entire populations, a passion I could fulfill with internal medicine.

Over the last four years, I have completed several observerships with several different physicians, in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Oncology, Hematology, and Cardiology. Each one of these doctors took me under their wing and taught me many valuable things that will help me to excel in my residency. I intend to apply for a fellowship in Hematology/Oncology after finishing my residency training. I will always do my best to stay up to date with the latest developments in my field as, in addition to always helping the underserved in my community as a volunteer.  I hope to be selected for a residency program in an area with a significant population of Arab speakers; with more and more immigrating to America, medical communication in their native language could save their life, especially in the case of accidents. I hope to use my Arabic as well at some point caring for refugees from Syria, my native Iraq, and other Arab-speaking countries.

Thank you for considering my application.

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