Aug 27, 2010

Personal Statement Blues...

So that whole application season thing is coming up again and like most of the red tape involved in becoming a doctor, it's a headache.

I've never had too much trouble writing, and it used to be the normal way I occupied my free time before I discovered beer, boys, and youtube...

Where I do have trouble is selling myself. I have no particular idea how to actually convey to others that I have qualities worth hiring without sounding like a tool or downplaying myself to such a degree that I can't even figure out why anyone would hire me.

I also find my best writing comes out of either humor or anger or a combination of both, neither of which are qualities befitting a personal statement. Hire me because when stuff sucks, I'll make cracks about your program that make the other residents laugh. But rest assured, it'll be at your expense.

I also have trouble conveying why I love something, because while I can write a dissertation in iambic pentameter about why I hate something (war, construction workers jackhammering outside my apartment at 11 PM, Nicolas Cage), my general way of describing something I like is that it's "awesome".

So, this means my most natural personal statement would read... "Pathology is so so awesome. I love seeing what the problem is under a microscope because it's the closest anyone will ever come to a diagnosis. I'm fine with bodies since they complain far less than living people and I love genetics and microbiology, even though anyone with half a conscience shouldn't trust me with the former. I did a couple pathology rotations and they were awesome. I used to work at the Donated Body Program and that was super awesome too. They let me play with bones a lot and I got to do forensic research no one will ever be interested in. You should hire me because I think pathology is as awesome as you guys probably do. Peace. PS, I've never seen a single episode of CSI so please don't think I'm trying to jump on the bandwagon. -Ish"

Less than convincing... immature, unprofessional, all those lovely qualities I embody, but you're not supposed to put them a personal statement.

Instead, I currently have something that is pleasantly wishy washy and sounds insincere even though it isn't. I didn't have any one event that led to my pursuing pathology. I didn't have a beloved grandfather who just would have been saved if some go-getter had diagnosed his _____ correctly. I wasn't on a plane where a passenger collapsed and someone screamed for a pathologist, and they ran up, did a biopsy and the patient lived to see another day.

When I was a girl scout, I wanted to diagnose labs instead of people. When I was 13, after abandoning my dreams of marine biology because I get so seasick I envy the dead, I wanted to be a virologist. Probably due initially to Dustin Hoffman. Then when I was a candy striper, I got sick of wheeling patients around and providing comfort around day four and spent the rest of my time there organizing slides in the path lab because it made me happy even though I had no idea what anything was. I found fourth term WAY more fun than second term because I like path and hate physio. I'm a lifer. But expressing that in any form either sounds like I'm lying or like I'm severely socially maladjusted.

Pathology makes me content. I don't run home with awesome stories largely because no one would be remotely interested in what makes my day fantastic, and my best shareable stories from it tend to be disgusting enough to significantly limit my audience. People are excited by stories about gunshot wounds and CPR... hell, I am, and I've run home enthusiastic when they've happened in my other rotations... but once that adrenaline wears off, I'm left with... what? Surgery was cool until it wasn't. Once the excitement of a case wore off, I wasn't left feeling content; I was left feeling bored and frequently frustrated. No answers and no diagnoses. When I'm doing mind numbing number crunching in the gross lab and entering standard templates into the computer, I feel a general sense of peace and satisfaction in the downtime that I have not found anywhere else. Why is that so hard to commit to paper?


Jill said...

HAHA....ya know, your post sounds alot like how I am feeling about the PS....except you can substitute "Emergency Medicine" for "Pathology"!! Keep at will all come together, although you are currently hearing advice from someone who does not have it together. I have hope though :)

Ishie said...

LOL, excellent. It really does help to know that we're all going through the same stuff.

That; however, is *not* going to excuse you from being absent for the TB finale in two weeks! ;)