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Embracing the Art and Science of Surgery

May 23, 2023 | 0 comments

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May 23, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

Personal Statement For Medical School

I sensed that I wanted to fight against avoidable death for the first time at 12, looking at my granddad dying of an undiagnosed diabetic coma.

Two years later, I was invited to a class majoring in biology at one of the top Moscow high schools. Most courses were taught by professors of Moscow State University, which implanted critical thinking and research skills into my brain. For course projects, I studied birch leaf variability using geometric morphometry, some ecological features of hamsters and differences in response to exercises between genders. These years were challenging, but the school helped me to nail basic sciences at medical university.


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Entering medical school, I was not aware of my future speciality. Although, I had reservations just for a couple of months. I still vividly remember my first meeting with the student research group of the largest Russian centre for cardiovascular surgery. That day in neonatal cardiac ICU, I realized the tremendous amount of knowledge and skills I am to achieve before I take responsibility for the health and life of others. I stuck on big surgery and got so motivated that, a year later, I managed to achieve a level of understanding enough to make a presentation on the student section of all-Russian meetings of cardiac surgeons. In the same year, I began volunteering in the thoracic OR of one large local hospital. I learned most adult cardiac and thoracic procedures protocols in those three years. In the evenings, I peered at recordings of operations, analyzing them frame by frame.

As a third-year student, I carried thin rubber tubes, sutures and instruments. I guess I looked weird buying a few pounds of porcine hearts to practice anastomoses. From time to time, I scrubbed in for experiments in the animal facility and assisted in transmyocardial laser revascularization procedures. It was tricky to mark tiny burns with epicardial prolene 7/0 sutures in off-pump settings. I believe my fine motor skills benefited from intensive piano lessons during my childhood. I got to be born pitch-perfect, and my parents dreamed of raising a new Van Cliburn. I have a photo of myself, five years old, playing the grand piano in Moscow Conservatory. Thank God my parents quit my musical career, and I became a doctor.

I have always had good luck with my teachers. They nurtured my medical judgement in line with an evidence-based approach. Indeed, medicine is an art to some degree, but you need years of experience to make sense of it. Therefore, it is reasonable for the young doctor to rely on guidelines with proven efficacy rather than on diagnostic acumen or sixth sense. Training of high-quality physical examination and history taking is a centuries-old tradition of our medical school. In a few years of exposure to clinical surgery, I learnt that “big preparing means small surgery” and vice versa.

I enjoy serving my patients even with my non-medical skills. I will always remember a 33 years old gentleman suffering from malignant thymoma with extensive local invasion, complicated with superior vena cava syndrome. I want to think that my enthusiasm for medical imaging and 3D modelling helped to design a radical resection. To me, the ultimate reward is to be warmly thanked, even for little things, like redressing your patient by yourself on a day off.

I have a passion for coming up with solutions to non-trivial problems. Thus, investigating intracardiac hemodynamics at Bakulev Center, we invented a precise and robust method of trabecular meshwork measurements for a left ventricular cavity. And this year, I had the luck to spend a few months in Baltimore studying big hospitalizations data, so I decided to get familiar with statistical language R and wrote some scripts for automatic trend analyses.

Surgery is the unique blend of clinical medicine, fundamental science, innovative technologies and the inimitable drive of the OR. Our speciality requires wide medical knowledge and erudition in related areas but allows you to focus on some problems simultaneously. For the year of surgical internship, I have assured myself that my choice is the best on all counts. Last year I lived a dream – to get high-quality training in the U.S. I will make all possible efforts to become an excellent surgeon and perhaps contribute to science. I would love to be in a thoracic or vascular fellowship for five years.

The program they will match me to will receive a vigorous, motivated and compassionate team player eager to help his patients and colleagues.

I have found myself; now it’s time to create myself.

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