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Editors wanted: - Nobody wears a white coat any more...
...a tribute to becoming a doctor.
ayradyss
ayradyss
Editors wanted:
National Conference of Family Practice Residents and Medical Students: First-time Student Attendee Award; $600.00 scholarship opportunity.
Essay:
The essay should be limited to a typewritten page (no more than 500 words) with one-inch margins describing:
(1) Your interest in family medicine
(2) Your reasons for wanting to attend the National Conference

And my essay, 499 words...
When I first decided that I was going to medical school, I told anyone who asked me that I would become a forensic pathologist, and that was that – until I explained myself to my mother-in-law. A family practitioner in small-town Indiana, Dorothy knew me better than I knew myself. She laughed at my certainty, listened to my reasons for choosing the field, and told me to wait and see. “You’ll fall in love with the patients,” she said, confident in her prediction. At the time, I just shook my head.
Even before I entered medical school, I learned that she had been right. On a medical trip to Nicaragua, I spent more time with patients than I’d ever anticipated, even sitting up late one night with a girl in the throes of an asthma attack. And, much to my surprise, I did fall in love with those patients. I slowly began to understand that I wanted to work with people, that the lab held little appeal for me, and that my mother-in-law had been right all along.
My clinical experiences have only borne this out: I find myself falling naturally into primary care during my clerkships; I am energized by the chance to see patients from one end of their lives to another. It is a direction to my life that four years ago I would never have expected, but experience has shown me that I am energized and fulfilled by the choice I have made.
I expected, when I made the transition from my classroom years at a branch campus to the clinical years at the main center, that I would join a family medicine student interest group and take part in activities to help me refine my direction. Instead, I was surprised to find few to no activities scheduled by such a group. In fact, as I worked with the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians to try and find ways to bring students into the specialty, I discovered that the group had more or less dissolved over the course of the year. As I investigated further, I encountered a doctor who was also interested in reviving it, and he suggested that I might be interested in going to Kansas City.
He was right – this conference represents a spectrum of opportunities I have no intention of passing up. I am excited by the prospect of meeting with other students and residents who had an interest in family medicine; I am glad for the chance to improve my leadership skills and develop new ideas to help in restarting the student interest group. As I finish my medical school career and enter practice, the opportunities for intellectual growth and skill development provided by conferences such as this one will give me the tools I need to provide the best possible care to my patients. If I am to be the best doctor I can be, those tools will be vital, and I look forward to the challenge.

What do you think? What can I improve? I need to get this stuff in within the next few days, so speed is of the essence...

[Edit: made a few changes. Essay is now 496 words, and updated...]

now feeling:: working working

14 whispers echo . o O ( ... ) O o . whisper a word
Comments
notamos From: notamos Date: April 25th, 2004 07:39 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
[Switches to full-on red pencil mode]

The tone of the essay changes partway through. The first three paragraphs are anecdotal and casual, almost conversational. The fourth paragraph is somewhat transitional, anecdotal at the beginning and more formal at the end and the final paragraph is wholly formal.

In the early paragraphs, the adjective count is high. The 'tiny girl' in Nicaragua, the 'certain distaste' for labwork, and so on. You may want to go back and redline all the adjectives in the first four paragraphs then read it through that way and see how well it flows. A good rule of thumb sometimes is to allow yourself one adjective per 100 to 150 words--it forces you to think about them, only using the ones that really add to the impact of the writing.

The segue from deciding that family medicine was right for you to the lack of a student interest group is a little abrupt, though not so jarring as to demand change if you're running up against the edge of your wordcount. Especially since the segue from the student interest group to the 'why you should pick me' section is quite graceful.

[End red-pencil mode]

I love the anecdote about your mother in law, it's a personal touch that never gets maudlin. Also, the implication that if they sponsor you going to this conference they'll be reviving the student interest group at your school is brilliant. Overall it's a great essay.
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: April 25th, 2004 08:03 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
When I first decided that I was going to medical school, I told anyone who asked me that I would become a forensic pathologist, and that was that – until I explained myself to my mother-in-law. A family practitioner in small-town Indiana, Dorothy knew me better than I knew myself. She laughed at my certainty, listened to my reasons for choosing the field, and told me to wait and see. “You’ll fall in love with the patients,” she said, confident in her prediction. At the time, I just shook my head.
Even before I entered medical school, I learned that she had been right. On a medical trip to Nicaragua, I spent more time with patients than I’d ever anticipated, even sitting up late one night with a girl in the throes of an asthma attack. And, much to my surprise, I did fall in love with those patients. I slowly began to understand that I wanted to work with people, that the lab held little appeal for me, and that my mother-in-law had been right all along.
My clinical experiences have only borne this out: I find myself falling naturally into primary care during my clerkships; I am energized by the chance to see patients from one end of their lives to another. It is a direction to my life that four years ago I would never have expected, but experience has shown me that I am energized and fulfilled by the choice I have made.
I expected, when I transitioned from my classroom years at a branch campus to the clinical years at the main center, that I would join up with the family medicine student interest group and take part in activities to help me refine my direction. Instead, I was surprised to find few to no activities scheduled by such a group. In fact, as I worked with the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians to try and find ways to bring students into the specialty, I discovered that the group had more or less dissolved over the course of the year. As I investigated further, I encountered a doctor who was also interested in reviving it, and he suggested that I might be interested in going to Kansas City.
He was right – this conference represents a spectrum of opportunities I have no intention of passing up. I am excited by the prospect of meeting with other students and residents who had an interest in family medicine; I am glad for the chance to improve my leadership skills and develop new ideas to help in restarting the student interest group. As I finish my medical school career and enter practice, the opportunities for intellectual growth and skill development provided by conferences such as this one will give me the tools I need to provide the best possible care to my patients. If I am to be the best doctor I can be, those tools will be vital, and I look forward to the challenge.

Better?
notamos From: notamos Date: April 25th, 2004 08:12 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
Practically perfect in every way.
boredamazon From: boredamazon Date: April 25th, 2004 08:16 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
well, i have stylistic edits... like don't use contractions in formal writings and not starting sentences with and. like totally acceptable, but a complete pet peeve of mine.

also, these are more general comments that i tell everyone practically. vary sentence openers for a bit of extra mustard, neh? don't always start with a noun (ie I), try a verb or adjective or another part of speech. also varying sentence size can also make anything a more interesting read, like shorter sentences to emphasise certain points every once in a while. too many short sentences are, like too mayn long sentences, tedious to read.

other than that, though, i really loved reading it. let me see another part of you. ^.^

~dana lee (or d. gould)
iliana_sedai From: iliana_sedai Date: April 25th, 2004 08:33 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
The comments I'll post are more subjective than objective, as they deal not with grammar but with content and argument.... I would like to see the points the contest asks you to address (your interest in FM + your reasons for attending the conference), addressed much more directly and clearly.

(1) Your interest in family medicine
You explained why you began to be interested in FM, but I feel that you've answered this question in a vague way rather than a concrete way. Meaning that from this essay, I can't see how the interests you've described aren't attributable to something other than FM -- IM, for instance. I think that perhaps this section needs a more convincing argument for 1) why you are specifically interested in FM and what are the unique qualities of FM that appeal to you, and 2) what is your vision for what you would do in FM. Having explained how you began to be interested in FM (historical), you have not explained what it is about FM that you like OR how you envision your own future in FM (futuristic).


(2) Your reasons for wanting to attend the National Conference
I notice that you didn't actually mention the conference directly (by name). I think it might be necessary to do so, and to be more concrete about what you hope to gain from it. Let me see if I can break it down....

- meet with other students and residents who had an interest in family medicine
- improve my leadership skills
- restarting the student interest group
- intellectual growth and skill development
- the tools I need to provide the best possible care to my patients.
- be the best doctor I can be

In a word, these are pretty vague goals. I would encourage being specific in these cases, because the vague ones look like essay fillers. Restarting the FMIG can be a concrete goal if you can provide examples of what you'd like to do in order to restart it. Attending the conference probably won't help improve your leadership skills that much, but suppose you wanted to go in order to learn specifically about the role of FP's in encouraging smoking cessation -- I would believe that much sooner than I'd believe you would "gain the tools you need to provide the best possible care to patients."

I don't know how helpful this will be, at all. As the writer, it's more about making choices of what to include and not about editing -- so these are some choices that I would consider, and not edits I would necessarily make.
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: April 25th, 2004 09:11 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
The conference has workshops specifically for leaders of FMIG's, or those who want to be involved in their leadership.

It's hard for me to be terribly concrete in <500 words; a little frustrating even.
iliana_sedai From: iliana_sedai Date: April 25th, 2004 09:14 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
In that case, maybe the most concrete way to address leadership would be to mention your interest in those workshops.

But yeah, 500 is very few words. Tough going. :-(
loonyatcbh From: loonyatcbh Date: April 26th, 2004 12:55 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
Trivial stuff, but to my hopelessly linguistically confused ears, "transitioned from...to" is still a verb that is evil (is it still too faddy, or has it been *completely* accepted into the lexicon as a verb that will not be judged as weird?), and "join up with" that student group sounds hopelessly rural Indiana--far too informal. I feel like Planer, but wouldn't just "join" do the trick?
I like it lots. In a twisted way, I love you triumphantly squeezing your voice and your experiences into competitive essay jargony prose that still sounds like you. When I had to write my grad school apps, I just closed my eyes and tried to make it sound like an MC convo program, but that probably got too boring. Don't go that far!
Best wishes!
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: April 26th, 2004 04:52 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
Okay, borrowed two words from "join up with" to make it "join" and loaned them to "made the transition from...to" which would probably please Planer :)

Same word count, good thought.
turnberryknkn From: turnberryknkn Date: April 26th, 2004 02:41 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
Other people have done a pretty good job summarizing my feelings, and I certainly am no profesional editor and leave that kind of suggestion to the folks with the expertise. Except the most important comment --well done. :-)

From: dr_bobbie Date: April 26th, 2004 04:10 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
Your essay sounds almost like my cover letter for my CV. Hehe. I was thinking of doing this as well, but our Senior Symposium, as well as our CSE is that week. :( It'd be a great chance to bump into you!
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: April 26th, 2004 04:53 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
When's your graduation? Or don't you know yet because of baby time off?
From: dr_bobbie Date: April 26th, 2004 05:38 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
I'll still graduate on time...it'll be the first week of May 2005. We have four weeks worked in for vacation during fourth year, plus I'm taking Medical Spanish at night to fulfill a two-week block next year, which will give me six weeks off around the time the baby's due. Should be enough, I hope. :)
coanteen From: coanteen Date: April 26th, 2004 01:14 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
*points up*
what they said.

i think it's very good. 500 words is very hard, i know - our residency application letters were about that long.
if you need to say anything more about FM specifically, maybe mention the holistic and preventative approach to the patient (as opposed to the more focused and treatment-oriented tack taken by most specialties).
the opportunity to form long-lasting therapeutic relationships is mentioned, but you may want to emphasize it more; it's what many family docs say is the most important aspect of family med.

"and that my mother-in-law had been right all along"
i absolutely can't put my finger on why, but i just don't like this one part. that may be completely subjective though, and i do find the whole of the mother-in-law anecdote touching.

"I told anyone who asked me that I would become a forensic pathologist"
wow, that's like the opposite of me. i'm still going into FM, but i wish the army allowed later specialization in forensics. curse you, CSI, for awakening this interest!
14 whispers echo . o O ( ... ) O o . whisper a word