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Harvard Medical School Sample Personal Statement – Radiation Oncology – UNEDITED

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Radiation Oncology Volunteer; Biochemical Lab Experience; Neurosurgery Research; ER Volunteer; English Language Tutor; Student Advisor; Community Service

“Carl, the woman we’re about to meet will receive her first palliative treatment today,” said Dr. A., an Attending in Radiation Oncology. He continued to explain her case as we walked briskly down the hallways of the hospital. I followed him into the radiation treatment room to meet the patient and learn about the procedure which, sadly, would not eradicate her disease. Since then, I have met with him weekly throughout this summer to learn about radiation oncology and medicine in general. Through experiences such as these, I have learned much about the profession of medicine. I want to become a physician for the intellectual challenges and rewards that come from helping others.

I first became interested in medical research by working in a biochemical engineering laboratory at MIT. For over two years I explored the medically related field, biotechnology. I have led experiments involving fermentation bioreactors and trained two inexperienced undergraduates. Recently, I presented a poster entitled “Effect of Antifoam during Filtration of Recombinant Bacterial Broth” at a New England Society for Industrial Microbiology colloquium. Enjoying the biomedical rather than engineering aspects of the work, I have shifted my career interests to medicine.

Last summer, I expanded my interest in medicine by working for the Neurosurgery Department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. After a short training period, I worked independently on three research projects: Clonality analysis of schwannomas, clonality analysis of a multiple meningioma, and the loss of heterozygosity (LOH) screening of pituitary adenomas. I developed a strong interest in my work when I observed my mentor, Dr. Peter Black, remove brain tumors in the operating room. After the initial shock and amazement of seeing the exposed brain of a conscious patient, I thought more about the connections between this clinical work and my research. While my projects’ objective was to gain a better understanding of tumors, the ultimate goal is to prevent and cure tumors to save human lives-the very people whom I had seen on the operating table! With this thought in mind, I found the motivation to complete the short-term objectives of my projects. I will be the second author of a paper, entitled “Clonality Analysis of Schwannomas,” which will be submitted to Neurosurgery.

This summer, as a participant in NYU Medical Center’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program (S.U.R.P.), I am learning even more about research and clinical medicine. In my work, I am determining the effect of the absence of the N-ras protooncogene on induced tumorigenesis. By conducting molecular oncology research for another summer, I have greatly expanded my knowledge and interest in the field. In addition, through my experiences in the Radiation Oncology Department with Dr. S., I clearly see the greater purpose of medical research beyond personal intellectual gratification. In the case of cancer and many other diseases, research is the only way to overcome the limitations of current clinical treatments.

I believe that one of the greatest joys and privileges of physicians are their abilities to directly aid and affect a community. While becoming interested in the science of medicine through research, I have explored human service to understand the art of medicine. When I volunteered in the Emergency Room of New England Medical Center during my sophomore year, many physicians impressed me with their sensitivity and compassion. When not assisting the hospital staff, I took every opportunity to comfort patients who felt scared and vulnerable. During that same year, I also tutored a middle-aged woman in English as a Second Language. It was challenging to teach her vocabulary and sentence structure since, initially, simple communication with her had been difficult. Helping her pass the high school equivalency exam made all of my efforts worthwhile. In addition, I have been an Associate Advisor for freshmen for the past two years. In this role, I have helped first year students adjust to college life. Not only have I played the role of academic mentor, but I have also become an intimate friend and personal tutor to my advisees. For my efforts, I won the annual Outstanding Associate Advisor Award.

Besides individual volunteering, I have taken the initiative to help the local community on a greater scale. As Community Service Chair for the Chinese Student’s Club for the past two years, I established a new program to promote the interaction between MIT students and underprivileged teenagers. College students and children affiliated with a local community organization, Boston Asian: Youth Essential Service, have become acquainted through regular activities. Through events such as a scavenger hunt and a hands-on introduction to the World Wide Web, MIT volunteers help teenagers learn about the opportunities available at college. Along with several other undergraduates, I have become further acquainted with the teens through individual tutoring. To establish this new service program, I have done intensive planning and budget management. I have refined rough, creative ideas into organized activities involving over twenty people. During the planning stages, I have worked closely with professional youth counselors, other MIT participants, and the teens. While my involvement in this program has been very demanding at times, seeing these teens learn and develop their interests has definitely made it worthwhile.

During college I have learned many things outside of lecture halls and libraries. In research labs, I have refined my intellectual curiosity and scientific thought processes. In the local community, I have developed my interpersonal skills and a greater understanding of others. Through it all, I have learned to treasure the simple pleasures of helping others. By becoming a physician, I will continue to develop and apply these personal attributes.

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