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Colon & Rectal Cancer, Community Service

My approach to medicine follows my approach to running: do as MUCH as you can, as OFTEN as you can, as WELL as you can. I started running about seven years ago as a way to stay fit and relieve stress. I set my own goals and schedules and, almost before I knew it, I was running my first 10-mile road race. Last fall I completed my first marathon, this fall my second. Running has taught me discipline and increased control over my body and mind. I believe I am a more focused and energetic medical student because I make fitness a priority and undoubtedly maintaining a regime will continue to benefit me in my future medical training and career. I cannot take good care of others unless I take good care of myself.
Guiding has also served to instill many valuable lessons. Being a Girl Guide from the age of five, and later a Girl Guide leader, has taught me the value of community service. As a girl member I learned self-reliance, outdoor living skills and basic life skills such as simple home repair and budgeting. I also participated in numerous community service projects to help food banks, womens' shelters and other charitable organizations. This taught me the importance of using your skills and giving of yourself to help improve the lives of those less fortunate. As an adult volunteer I have gained valuable organizational and leadership skills while running weekly meetings, supervising special events and camps and developing strategic plans. Being a leader to these young girls has made me a more patient and nurturing person.
While attending medical school, I became involved in Monte Carlo, an annual charity fundraising event. As co-chair I had the opportunity throughout the year to hone my organizational and team-building skills. This event requires the commitment and dedication of nearly everyone in the first and second year classes, students who already have a lot on their plate. It was difficult at times to arrange meetings, meet deadlines and keep everyone motivated and committed, so my energy and patience were certainly tested. I also learned to work well under pressure! This event depends on support from community businesses and a large part of my role involved securing and organizing donations of cash and prizes. Many of these donations came at the last minute and had to be quickly incorporated into the event.
I am drawn to Internal Medicine because of its team approach to patient care and the nature of the patient population. I first came to see how different professionals contribute to patient care during my time as a volunteer in the pre-admission clinic where physicians and other professionals from a variety of disciplines worked together to prepare patients for elective admissions. I later saw the same kind of teamwork when I became a clinical clerk in oncology where family doctors, surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists as well as palliative care specialists all contribute to patient care. I am looking forward to working as part of such a team as a resident and later as an internist. With respect to the nature of the patient population, we have an aging population here in Canada and patients require continuity of care for their multiple medical problems. Being able to provide education, compassion and empathy is of prime importance for patients suffering chronic and terminal illness. As a clinical clerk doing Internal Medicine, I met a patient who presented with symptoms suggestive of a stroke. She was admitted to oncology because of her history of bowel cancer and the possibility that it could be brain metastases causing her symptoms. I visited her multiple times each day because I knew she often did not understand what the doctors were telling her on their daily visits and was reassured by my additional explanations. Once it was established that she did not have brain metastases, she was moved to the Neurology floor and was no longer my patient. I continued to visit her and, when I explained to her that my rotation was over and that I had to change hospitals, I was touched by her words of thanks. I have many of the skills necessary to work in the field of Internal Medicine and am looking forward to acquiring others during my residency. My ultimate career goal is medical oncology where these skills, in addition to medical expertise, will continue to be an asset. Based on my experience working in oncology, cancer patients need accurate information, compassion and a doctor willing to advocate for them. I look forward to the challenge.
I am seeking an Internal Medicine program that combines the opportunity to work in outpatient clinics where I can see the same patients over an extended period of time with adequate subspecialty and inpatient experiences. I want to work with professionals who are open to new ideas and eager and available to teach. I had the opportunity during clerkship to work with a busy nephrologist who always found time to teach and to ensure that house staff understand what was happening with each inpatient. As well, I seek a program that encourages its residents to find a balance between their professional life, personal life and community involvement.

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