Limping out of the court with a twisted ankle, I winced in pain. As the main player of the university Table-Tennis team, I was determined not to let my team’s effort go in vain. The final match was two days away and I decided to focus on my strengths- my backhand chop, as opposed to only concentrating on my opponent’s weakness. As I was getting my foot examined, my coach remarked, ‘The pain of regret is greater than the fear of failure’. This thought comes back to me today as I prepare to apply for my Internal Medicine Residency in the United States.
Exploring newer horizons and pushing myself to resist complacency have always been my mantra, be it academics or sports. During my medical school rotations, I was drawn towards Internal Medicine as a subject. The hunger to go beyond the prescribed basic course requirements pushed me to travel alone to the United States for my clerkships in the fourth year of medical school. I observed how excellent medical practices integrated with cutting edge technology are a perfect blend for providing superior patient care.
Throughout my Infectious Disease rotation at the University of Connecticut, I was introduced to a wide spectrum of infectious illnesses – Skin and soft tissue infections, sexually transmitted illnesses, HIV, Hepatitis C, infective endocarditis and even my very first case of a tick bite! These experiences made me yearn to come back to this country to pursue residency training with an aim to better myself with every chance. I am eternally grateful to my attendings and fellows there, who recognized my enthusiasm and encouraged my dream of applying for an Internal Medicine residency. With this in mind, I set about taking up the American Licensure exams while working in the Department of Gastroenterology at Fortis Hospitals, India.
I had the privilege of working with renowned physicians during my term at Fortis, many of whom were trained in the United States. With the guidance of the excellent faculty, I was able to utilize the concept of evidence based care towards the treatment of the patient population. I also took up opportunities to tutor and teach students during their Internal Medicine rotations in the hospital. Their valuable feedback and encouraging response, coupled with appreciation from my superiors, instigated the desire to pursue an active role in academia in the future. I believe there is no better way to affect the future of medicine than by sharing knowledge with student physicians. It is during the training period that one has to develop keen observation skills without compartmentalizing the patient. Like Osler said, ‘The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the person who has the disease’. I cannot think of any other specialty which demands such extensive knowledge and application and provides a continuous scope for learning.
Although I continued to work towards my dream of an Internal Medicine Residency in the United States, the exposure to research eluded me. It was an incredible opportunity to broaden my horizon when I was accepted to work under Dr. Michael F. Holick, a pioneer in Vitamin D and Metabolic Bone Diseases at Boston University. I took it up as a challenge and over the months grew to understand the intricacies of research and how perfection in every little step matters to the end result. The translational research strengthened the application of my basic science knowledge in a clinical setting. During the six months spent in his laboratory and clinic, I observed and followed up frequently misdiagnosed conditions such as Osteogenesis Imperfecta and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I witnessed how medicine being an all encompassing field requires the patient, doctor, as well as the society at large to play equally important and coordinated roles, demanding perfection and utmost commitment. This experience like many others before reinforced the importance of always pushing boundaries and exploring newer territories, to grow as an individual.
This very reason motivates me to continue to strive towards my dream of pursuing an Internal Medicine Residency in a well-rounded program, catering to a diverse group of conditions. I look forward to being a valuable contributor in the team, working towards the common goal of providing superior patient care. Having grown up with the influences and experiences that I have had, I know I have the dedication to do the hard work required to achieve my goals. Being a sportsperson made me a natural team player and also instilled discipline in me from a very young age. The final day of the tournament when I gave it my all and won the match- much to the delight of my team, it dawned on me what getting out of the comfort zone truly meant. It meant overcoming the fear of failure and breaking boundaries; and I had done just that.