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Like many residents in internal medicine, I started my training unsure of which specialty I would choose for my fellowship. I had very broad clinical interests and desired a field in which I could connect with patients on a personal and professional basis. Despite these expansive interests, I had not even considered geriatrics until I met the patient in Room 74.
The patient in Room 74 was a tiny, elderly lady with mild dementia who had been admitted to my care because she was suffering from a urinary tract infection. Starting her on a routine of antibiotics, I noticed that while her physical condition improved, her spirit remained listless and depressed. The woman accepted her treatment reluctantly, even crying or screaming at times at the nursing staff. The other physicians attributed her behavior to the dementia, but I wondered whether there might be something more complex going on in her pathology. Surmising that her outbursts might be the result of loneliness rather than confusion--that she did, in other words, have a firm grasp of reality--I decided to see whether some personal attention could help improve her condition. I spent a little time at the end of each shift talking to the woman. After I earned her trust, she confided in me her story. She said that she lived alone and had recently lost her husband and son. She felt lonely and had no friends. Realizing that her asocial behavior was the result of deep-seated pain, I gave the best medicine I could offer: my friendship.
While working to convince the woman that she could trust and depend on me, I simultaneously contacted social services to see about long-term emotional support after her discharge. Working together, we identified her one remaining son in California and convinced him to take an active interest in his mother's care. In addition, we helped relocate the woman to an assisted living facility where she could actively volunteer in the hospital's senior center. After the woman's discharge, I heard from the social worker that she was doing well.
One day several months later, I had a wonderful surprise during my rotation in ambulatory medicine. Working at the local senior center, I was approached by a tiny but very happy-looking woman. She asked whether I remembered her, and I immediately recognized the kindness of her voice. It was my patient. I was surprised by how much she had changed. As her eyes sparkled with life and interest, she uttered a phrase that I will never forget: "Thank you doctor for what you have done for me. You have made my life so happy."
Just as the patient in Room 74 helped me realize how much I, as a doctor, can contribute to geriatric medicine, my experience studying in the United States showed me how much I, as a person, can contribute to the health care system of my native country. Growing up in Thailand, I experienced an underdeveloped health care system in which the poorest and weakest members of society often receive inadequate or non-existent care. Even elders with caring families often lack the resources to secure the medical attention they deserve. Conventional wisdom in Thailand holds that growing older logically entails becoming forgetful and frail, and the elderly are among the most medically underserved populations in the country.
This is the reason why I have decided to become a geriatric specialist, helping to change outdated conceptions about the elderly in Thailand. To prepare for such work, I recently completed an elective rotation in geriatrics. The rotation showed me the special needs of an aging population, and introduced me to the unique emotional and social issues that arise from artificially extended lifetimes in the era of modern medicine.
The next step on my path toward specialization in geriatrics is completing a fellowship in the field to prepare for my practice in Thailand. I have been honored by the offer of an assistant professorship at my medical school in Thailand, and I look forward to diffusing my knowledge of geriatric care to a new generation of doctors. Geriatrics is a young but blossoming field in Thailand, and the country's aging population has created the urgent need for a stronger, more responsive system of elderly care.
Drawing on the advanced geriatric training and intensive clinical experience of a fellowship at XXX Medical School, I hope to advance my mission of improving the quality of elderly care in Thailand. I am confident that my past experiences and sincere dedication to healing will allow me to succeed in your program, and I look forward to the challenge and reward of an engaging fellowship.
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I read your personal statement for a geriatric fellowship with great interest. I enjoyed your creative use of an anecdote to capture the reader's attention and to highlight your interest in, and dedication to, this demanding field of medicine. Good work.
Many of the changes I made to your essay were confined to the sentence level. I reworked awkward phrases, varied vocabulary, adjusted tone, and increased the direction and flow of your writing. I corrected grammatical errors such as "geriatric staffs" and "many researches," and I eliminated tautological phrases such as "treating her with standard treatment." I also varied sentence length to intersperse long sentences with short, pithy phrases.
In addition, I proposed significant adjustments to the content and structure of your essay. I reworked sentences and whole passages to ensure that you make the strongest case possible for receiving a geriatric fellowship. In addition, I examined your statements at the micro level, determining whether you needed to include additional detail or vary your approach. As a result of this analysis, I have provided a number of suggestions on how you can improve your essay to make it more effective.
The following are some specific comments on the individual paragraphs of your essay:
Your overall approach to this long and comprehensive paragraph is effective. The anecdote you employ is interesting and revealing, and it will undoubtedly hold the attention of a busy fellowship director.
While your ideas are strong, your original presentation was rather congested. Rather than group all your arguments into a single paragraph, I suggest breaking this discussion into multiple parts to make it easier to digest. See my suggestions in the text.
On the micro level, I also found that your diction, tone, and sentence structures in this section needed to be adjusted to make them more eloquent. I reworked each of your sentences carefully, rephrasing your ideas to reflect the kind of vocabulary and nuance that fellowship committees reward.
For instance, I replaced the weak sentence, "I had had the most wonderful and valuable experience with my patient," with, "I had not even considered geriatrics until I met the patient in Room 74." This sentence serves as a lead-in to your next paragraph, and it creates much-needed suspense.
I also chose the device of "Room 74" to protect the identity of your patient. Another possible technique would be to write, "Ms. X," or to make up a generic name like "Helen" or "Emily." The choice is yours. Typically, I have noticed that applicants prefer to show that they have maintained patient confidentiality since this is a hallmark of the medical profession.
The second paragraph of your original essay is also very strong, but it was again necessary to impose a more manageable structure upon your ideas. I have broken up the paragraph into multiple parts so that the reader grasps the progression of your ideas.
In addition, your essay seemed to jump erratically from the discussion of your patient to your reflections on the state of geriatric care in Thailand. This is a crucial transition in your essay, and I have reworked it from scratch to ensure that each idea flows naturally into the next.
One section in which you might consider giving more detail is the discussion of your elective rotation in geriatrics. I provided the sentence, "The rotation showed me the special needs of an aging population, and introduced me to the unique emotional and social issues that arise from artificially extended lifetimes in the era of modern medicine," but you may want to personalize this sentence further. If possible, you should talk about how this rotation advanced your interest in the academic side of geriatrics.
For the conclusion, I tried to emphasize how the fellowship you seek will advance your career goals, particularly since you have already received an offer for an assistant professorship. I expanded upon the connection between your fellowship and your ultimate goal of improving geriatric care in Thailand, but be sure to revise any of my ideas that do not accurately reflect your ambitions or priorities.
Overall, excellent work! Your essay was a pleasure to read and to edit. I wish you the best of luck with your application.
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