Bleary-eyed and still recovering from my ER scribe shift the previous night, I glanced at the patient census list: it was looking like another busy night. “Hey Andrew, everyone’s tied up with running a code in bed two. Can you start getting the history on Mr. Jones in bed six?” While transcribing his history of present illness, it became clear that Mr. Jones’ chest pain was a classic presentation, and the situation’s urgency dawned upon me.
I grabbed the EKG machine and placed the electric leads on his body. As he endured his pain, I held his hand in comfort and ironically found it just as soothing to me. I admired Mr. Jones’ pleasant demeanor and his underlying strength reminded me of my own father’s cardiac experience. Momentarily, I felt an inexplicable bond and connection with this stranger in bed six. However, my desire to do more for Mr. Jones was frustrating as I was limited in my capacity as a mere medical scribe. This frustration worsened knowing that nobody was available to help more. My limitation only strengthened my resolve to become a physician and be able to help in a greater capacity. I pushed these thoughts aside and was able to find an available ER physician. As Mr. Jones’ pain dissipated, his smile returned as he extended a grateful hand toward me. I asked Mr. Jones if I could visit him in the hospital tomorrow. “I would like that,” he replied.
I went to see Mr. Jones the next day and could not help but notice that he appeared unkempt, which prompted me to learn more about his personal situation. I learned that, much like my father, Mr. Jones’ heart attack was induced by stress. Unlike my father’s situation, Mr. Jones’ stress was more severe as his personal life was in shambles and his support system was completely lacking. My father had the good fortune of having a strong supportive family, and I was saddened to see Mr. Jones alone in the hospital without any attentive family members. With every visit to his bedside, I noticed his inability to understand medication instructions and difficulty navigating the hospital environment. This was an all too familiar nightly experience during my medical scribe tenure in the ER. Mr. Jones understood what he needed to do, but not why he was being instructed to do so, resulting in lapses in medication adherence. His health literacy was impaired, affecting his road to recovery.
Mr. Jones had been through enough, and I became inspired to improve community health literacy. I started Virtual & Augmented Reality Organ Systems (VAROS) Technologies Inc. to improve patient treatment understanding. It was apparent that Mr. Jones was not alone in that patients of all ages and education levels were not comprehending important yet complex verbal explanations by health care personnel. Offering customizable, immersive organ system designs across a suite of extended reality technologies allows VAROS to supplement the physician’s explanations and curb this challenge for patients. Fortunately, fellow community leaders, such as engineers and researchers, have aligned with the inspiration and joined the platform to expand our reach to as many patients as possible.
I believe knowledge is powerful in its ability to turn angst into appreciation. With a perceptual grasp of one’s health comes the removal of fear-based lifestyles, allowing one to thrive biologically, socially, and psychologically. Having seen, first-hand with Mr. Jones, how debilitating a condition can be when compounded with a lack of understanding, I wish to not only empower myself with a medical education but to do so for my fellow man. From undergraduate personal training to transcribing in the ER, and now leading VAROS, my dream is to continue growing my foundation to bring knowledge and positive change to those around me.
As I do not yet have the medical education to truly be able to deliver quality treatments with care, improving health literacy with VAROS has been my attempt to meaningfully improve patient lives at this time. Doing so has expanded my understanding of healthcare beyond the one-on-one interactions seen in the clinic or hospital. These experiences have reinforced my desire to become a physician so that I can grow beyond limitations in my ability to treat people, both personally in a clinical setting and interpersonally at the community level. My desire is to be there for those grappling with death and holding their hand as they return to health, but systemic changes need to be addressed using modern solutions. Spending my gap years working alongside patients and building these innovative solutions has made me eager to begin medical school and earn the education and training required to take my capabilities to the next level. Doing so will allow me to finally be there for people like Mr. Jones and my father; with no amount of reward comparing otherwise.
My father’s heart attack changed my life. Leading up to that point, I never felt in control of my destiny. Much like my father, I lived reactive to the environment. On the day of the heart attack, I was home from college. After an aimless freshman year, I was eager to reflect on my past and recalibrate my trajectory forward. While my father was not one to complain, the look in his eyes spoke volumes; I knew something was wrong. I took him to the emergency department (ED), and by this time, agonizing pain overtook his whole body. He was knocking on death’s door and we both knew it. With every breath came a wince of pain, both for him and me. As his heart struggled to pump, my knees grew weak as I watched the man who raised me grapple with death. As indecision and doubt began to crystallize into fear, the doctor entered the room. Radiating warmth and confidence, the doctor quickly soothed our panic. Coordinating orders with the surrounding support staff, he knew what to do. In due time, the results spoke for themselves, bringing relief to all. My father was free of pain, and I, in awe of his complete one-eighty transformation. From that day on, I yearn to be like the doctor, with a mind intellectually capable of saving a life while also reducing tensions in the room. I desire to work with patients – for patients – for people like my father. However, first, I must take care of my father.
His heart attack was stress-induced, and the prognosis included mental and physical rehabilitation. To many fitness is mundane, but to me, it has healing properties. Fitness serves as my form of self-medication; however, this time it would be used to help my father. Recovering his strength and restructuring his diet was the priority. Beginning with the basics, I was impatient at first, but soon celebrated even the slightest bit of progress. Within a matter of months, he had surpassed his pre-heart attack baseline while we grew closer than ever. His transformation from bed-ridden and weak into a lively, younger version of himself, proved to us both that we are in control of our lives. For the first time, I found joy, compassion, and love in training others. Witnessing my father’s recovery brought more satisfaction than any personal workout and illuminated my passion for working with others to achieve their desired state of health.
As my father’s health bloomed, I was left with a burning desire to return to the ED, this time as a medical scribe devoted to better understanding the patient-physician relationship. In southwest Virginia, local to my university, I came to understand the deeply ingrained socioeconomic underpinnings that limited patient health literacy in the area. Riddled with prescription nonadherence and misinterpretation of treatment plans, I was eager to help patients understand the magnitude of their condition and the necessary steps to optimize recovery. I refocused my efforts on research pertaining to ways to improve patient health literacy.
Despite ED language barriers and cultural differences, patients learn best when engaging their senses. To help patients engage their senses, I joined a research lab dedicated to modeling and printing organ systems. With this, I took medical explanations from purely verbal or two-dimensional into the third dimension allowing patients to understand the progression of their condition by building a mechanistic model they can touch and visualize. These mechanistic models motivated patients regardless of age, state, or condition to take initiative in their recovery.
With an interest in further expanding my perspective of various settings in healthcare, I joined a gastrointestinal (GI) private practice in my hometown following graduation. I assumed the role of medical assistant, procedural technician, and clinical research coordinator. With each position, I grew comfortable and came to enjoy working directly with patients. Similar to the ED, socioeconomic differences limited health literacy amongst the patient population; and in this case, poor health literacy significantly affected enrollment and compliance in clinical studies. To improve patient participation, I created Virtual and Augmented Reality Organ Systems (VAROS).
VAROS initially strived to improve patient participation in ongoing clinical trials; however, as I grew more familiar with my role in the GI clinic, VAROS proved to be applicable in other facets of healthcare. VAROS strives to empower the patient by making the prognoses more digestible and motivating patients to take initiative in their recovery.
As the medical community shifts to include more technology in all facets of healthcare, I wish to become more adaptable in the medical environment to improve my efficacy as a physician. To achieve this goal, VAROS takes a multidisciplinary approach to maximize adaptability in the medical field as technology advances.
VAROS serves as a stepping stone to becoming a physician. Through the pursuit of knowledge and collaboration, I am confident an education in medicine will allow me to achieve my long-term career goals of improving patient care and health literacy. I long to join a medical community that will persevere in moments of uncertainty for the betterment of healthcare.
With quick strides, we escaped the winter wind and shuffled our way into the busy hospital. Destined to warm up, my mother and I climbed the three flights of stairs and entered a packed ICU. Filled with groans, moans, and flustered workers, this is where my mother would clock in, and I, out for the night. Attending school near the hospital, the ICU break room’s couch became a second bed. While my mother cared for patients, this is where I would lay down for rest. Riding waves of drowsiness, I scratched my eyes and yawned deeply. Drifting into a dream, I heard a gentle, “hello.” A young man, looking eerily similar to myself, approached me. My eyes immediately darted from his tightly fit white coat and towards his “Dr. Andy” name tag. “I am your youthful intentions for pursuing medicine,” Dr. Andy said with pride. Before I could ask what he meant, his calloused hand extended out to greet mine. Placing my hand into his, the scenery changed to reflect the hospital’s basement rehabilitation gym. “Your years of working out in this gym will prime your interest in the body,” he said, eyes enamored as he scanned the rows of machines, “so here, marks the beginning of your path to medical school.” Standing next to Dr. Andy, the overlap of fitness and my path to medical school became apparent: countless exercise repetitions symbolizing long nights of studying throughout busy semesters and muscle burning, necessary for growth; comparable to seeing life struggles as learning opportunities.
Abrupting the flow of transformative life lessons came another, firmer, “hello.” An older, more composed doctor with familiar facial features stood facing me. Wearing a neatly ironed white coat, my eyes scanned for a name tag. “The name is Dr. Drew, but you can call me your evolved intention for becoming a physician.” Seeing Dr. Andy stare at Dr. Drew with respect, my admiration soon followed. “Let’s see how your undergraduate experiences allowed you to explore the components of medicine.” I followed closely as we traveled to the hospital’s emergency department. “Where the weight room calloused you,” Dr. Drew said as workers shuffled between rooms, “the emergency department will soften you.” Some patients holding onto their lives, and others, tears of joy with relief of their symptoms; this is where I would see the grappling of life and death played out in so many people. With a snap of his fingers, dozens of computers and 3D printers filled my view. “In this laboratory, you will work to help more than one patient at a time.” Before I could respond, his fingers snapped to bring us into a jam-packed lecture hall. “And this,” Dr. Drew announced one last time, “is where you ultimately finalize your decision on a career path.” Seeing how it all pieced together, I noticed the projector flash on; a highlight reel of my undergraduate experience began to play. As Dr. Andy and Dr. Drew both watched, mesmerized, my experiences as a medical scribe, biomechanical researcher, and teaching assistant flashed before our eyes.
As the reel came to an end, one final doctor appeared. Tie tucked below a worn white coat, the doctor’s attire radiated professionalism, and his eyes – experience. “Hello, Andrew,” I heard, my eyes too distracted by his greying hair to look for a name tag. “My name is Dr. Andrew, and I represent your future self as -” I joined him to say, “a physician.” He smiled, proud of the other two for helping me understand thus far. With so much to show and only limited time left in my mother’s night shift, Dr. Andrew began my final lesson. Taking me back to the ICU breakroom, he stated: “With innovative technology and scientific discovery, in the coming decade, the field of medicine will grow, and with that, the role of physician will adapt.” Enthralled by his words, yet perplexed as to how exactly I was involved, I asked for more insight from Dr. Andrew. Looking at me, then at the other two, he said, “That, Andrew,” pausing long enough to gain my full focus, “is for you to decide.”
Suddenly, I was brought back to the warm ICU break room as my mother slammed open the door, scrubs stained with sweat, looking ready to go home and get some much-needed rest. Walking back out into the bitter winter frost, my racing thoughts kept me warm – oscillating between fitness, the intricacies of medicine, and the exciting future of the medical field.
Mind, Body, Spirit
We all have a mind capable of limitless amounts of knowledge and understanding, a body to carry out the mind’s deepest desires, and a spirit determining the direction of action. In order to achieve a harmonious relationship between all three, one must work on each one individually. I have been intentional in my efforts to align my values, strivings, and goals insight with that which will improve my capability of being an excellent physician while helping my fellow man’s ability to flourish.
Having a healthy mind is broad and often unique to each individual. For me, regular exercise of the brain is a great starting point. Beginning as an undergraduate, I have used various coding languages, such as python and HTML, to build simple ideas into impactful services. Throughout MCAT studying, the transition to online learning, and interview preparation, I have built free, online applications to help students across the nation. With each project, I applied new skills while staying true to my core values of altruism and beneficence. Another aspect of maintaining a healthy mind is being willing to step out of one’s comfort zone and learning from mistakes. Growing up with a family of medical professionals, I would ask “are you ever hesitant to step into acute care situations?” Hearing the answer, “Yes, but through training and repeated exposure, the discomfort begins to fade away, and, over time, those cases excite me the most!” I knew this was applicable to more than just healthcare. Reminiscing on feelings of anxiety drifting away as the starting pistol marked the start of my cross country races, I realized how my own resistance was the only obstacle blocking me from personal growth. Now, I see challenges as a learning experience and I continuously try to push my boundaries a little further.
Having a healthy body involves being free of illness and disease with no recurrent pain. My years of personal training have shown me the transformative power of taking proper care of one’s body. Improving one’s physical health influences all other aspects of human functioning. Unfortunately, there are times where a healthy diet, good nutrition, and regular exercise are simply not enough to ward off ailments. Because of this, I want to be there for patients who need extra help getting better; whether it be through surgical operations, proper diagnoses, and/or musculoskeletal manipulation.
My work towards developing a healthy spirit emerged during my Freshman year when I received the news stating my father suffered a stress-induced heart attack. As part of his treatment, I pledged to be by his side as, together, we learned about typical behavioral responses to stress, ways of managing stress, and coping mechanisms. These have been revolutionary in both of our lives, equipping us with the ability to stay calm and rational, both in short- and long-term scenarios. Doctors often have to make difficult decisions, deliver horrific news, and see death on a daily basis. As time goes by, these stress-management skills will be used on a more frequent and extensive basis. The next aspect of a healthy spirit involves being comfortable with one’s mind and body and recognizing that, together, they are part of something much bigger than themselves. This takes form in many religious contexts, however in my eyes as a future medical practitioner, I see it as being part of the interconnected web of healthcare professionals. Every member must understand their role, be aware of their own thoughts and feelings, and communicate with others in a clear and concise way. This was made clear to me during my time as a medical scribe. The emergency department physicians were not only dependent on other specialists throughout the hospital, but on their supporting nurses, technicians, and transportation workers. The patient’s care is possible thanks to each and every one of these workers fulfilling their role. Finally, a healthy spirit requires love, both of oneself and others. I felt filled with love every week throughout my years of volunteering with my region’s Special Olympics. Seeing the athlete’s eyes light up with joy allowed me to recognize the profound sense of compassion that I have for all beings, both in a hospital setting and out.
To summarize, I want to attend a medical school that emits a sense of community; full of faculty that inspires the pursuit of knowledge and collaboration. I hope to be surrounded by fellow medical students who follow their hearts and motivate others for the sake of collective improvement. I want to be in a supportive, yet competitive environment that pushes the boundaries of comfort in exchange for profound discovery. Ultimately, I want to become the best doctor that I can be through a medical education at your school.
In order to describe myself using three phrases, I must first break down my self-view. I categorize myself through an inner and outer description along with lessons that I have learned through my life experiences.
Through this frame of reference, I describe my inner-self with “change my thoughts, and I change my behaviors.” This description has changed my perspective on life by opening me up to the belief that the origin of my action is rooted in my thought patterns. I may expand on this by inferring that my behaviors are guided by my feelings. My feelings are influenced by my attitudes, which are created by my beliefs. Finally, my beliefs are directed entirely by my internal programming. With this, I know that in order to align my behaviors to match my goals, I must look upstream and tackle issues associated with my internal programming, also known as my subconscious mind. Applied to the context of working to become a doctor, I had to first reprogram my mind to love the process of learning. Instead of seeing my education as a tedious path to the finish line, I began to see the journey and destination as being equally enjoyable. Upon this realization, I began to develop a passion for every course I took, every lecture I attended, and every project assigned to me. With a long road of schooling ahead, I wanted to make sure that I was finding internal satisfaction with learning before I fully committed myself to become a doctor.
With a healthy inner world comes a strong outer world, which is why my outer description is “my body is a temple.” This phrase best describes me because, over the years, I have learned to take meticulous care of my body. After spending my latter years in High School purposefully fluctuating weight on a scale of fifty to seventy-five pounds, I began to develop unintended health complications. Since then, my focus has shifted towards building a foundation set for longevity. I have seen the effects that a lack of personal upkeep can have on one’s body and mind over time and, with that, I will always make time for physical exercise. If my body is a temple, then I have experimented with various construction materials over the years. Examples include cross-country aerobic exercise, weight lifting, powerlifting, gymnastics, and yoga. Following my own complications, taking care of my body has turned to be my form of self-medication.
If so much of our lives are built on past experiences, then in order to gain a better understanding of who I am, I will share the lessons that I have learned in my past. A recent realization of mine is that “my reality is revealed through polarity.” I like this phrase because, with almost too many examples to list, it is hard to see a remarkably positive or negative past experience without an associated equal and polar opposite counterpart. Reflecting on my time in college, my most traumatic and life-altering event was when my Father experienced a heart attack. At the time, this was clearly an incredibly negative experience. However, now, I cannot associate his heart attack without the ensuing positive changes in each of my family member’s lives. For my Father, he became a more light-hearted person with a hopeful outlook on life. This was brand new for him and the effects now melt onto everyone he interacts with. For the first time in my own life, I was able to convert my in-class lessons on anatomy, physiology, and medicine into a real, applicable example with which I have a strong emotional connection to. I was mentally taken back to all of my medical scribing experiences that I could now emotionally relate to, specifically when patient family members watched their loved one’s health sharply decline before their eyes. This emotional connecting point is what felt like the last reason I needed to dedicate myself to medicine. While I could never wish a heart attack or any negative health event into anyone’s life, I truly am thankful for my Father’s experience being a direct motivator for me to pursue the path to becoming a doctor.
I was hired by the Emeritas Research Group with the intention of bringing this struggling company back from the dead and into the profitable territory they were once in. For background, the Emeritas Research Group is the clinical research department associated with the gastroenterology practice that originally hired me. In this practice, patient visits are conducted and various procedures operate around the clock. My role as the clinical research coordinator was to boost clinical research involvement, both with patient recruitment and physician participation, and take on more clinical studies all while simultaneously being trained as a medical assistant and procedural technician. In my first week, I had a meeting with the lead physician who gave me a few quotas as benchmark goals to strive for, but seeing the look of desperation in his eyes was enough to motivate me to go above and beyond my assigned role.
Following that meeting, the proceeding actions were taken in chronological order. First, I analyzed the interpersonal relationships of the existing coworkers in order to understand everyone’s leadership qualities, roles, strengths, and weaknesses in order to mold myself into where I best fit. From there, I gained an understanding of what was working, what has worked in the past under different management, and what worked across the nation for other clinical research coordinators. This step allowed me to create many different possible plans of action. After gaining insight from existing member’s points of view, we were able to throw out some ideas and expand on others. We picked a few plans that seemed to work well, tried them, scrapped the ones that seemed efficient on paper but were inefficient in practice, retried, and repeated. Working on the patient side as a medical assistant and the procedure side as a technician, I was able to gain a helpful outside-looking-in perspective which smoothed down several bumps in the road. From there, I continuously rechecked the process and stress-tested all working parts to optimize efficiency. Finally, to save time and effort on future new hires, I detailed my whole thought process and actions taken in an easy-to-understand guide. The finalized plans required collaboration with patients, receptionists, medical assistants, nurses, doctors, and clinical research associates.
The current outcome, weeks after this plan has been in place, is patient recruitment raising up 1000% in some studies, the addition of three new clinical studies (from eight to now eleven total studies), and an overall better flow and communication between staff members and departments. I have learned how easy it is to become overwhelmed in chaotic, stressful situations. In those times of indecision, it is important to act boldly, for if no action is taken, then indecision will blend with doubt and crystallize into fear. In past positions, I have been slow to introduce myself to others and learned the position from passive observation. Now, I understand the importance of actively learning new knowledge and skills by asking the right questions, finding who has the answers, and becoming familiar with every worker involved in the flow of patient care. I have also gained a much-cleared idea of how clinical studies develop from the “bench to bedside.” Coordinating with pharmaceutical companies and individual patients brought with it a newfound appreciation for the dedication that many people have to bring better health to others.
With a broader stroke, I have learned about various leadership qualities that were not made known to me as a student. First, as a successful leader, I needed unwavering courage based on knowledge of myself and my role in the company. I needed definiteness of plan and action, meaning I had to be sure in myself and the plan that I set forth. I learned to get into the habit of doing more than I was paid for, as well as the importance of assuming responsibility for the mistakes and shortcomings of my coworkers. Last but most importantly, this leadership position taught me how to apply the principle of cooperative effort since it was clear that I could not accomplish my goals alone. Together, these lessons proved to be vital when developing a multi-company-wide plan where every employee had to understand and follow through with their role for success.
My most eye-opening cultural experience came soon after meeting my freshman year roommate; a randomly assigned Taiwanese foreign exchange student. Before my roommate began fully unpacking his belongings, he brought out an instrument shaped like a short guitar and began showing it off to me. “It was a gift from my parents for getting accepted into Virginia Tech’s engineering program,” he said with a gleeful appreciation for his hard work. After watching my roommate passionately play the instrument, which I later found is named a pipa, I began to realize just how powerful music and creativity can be for connecting cultures. After my year-long experience with this roommate, I continued expanding my cultural horizons with the intention of learning about the deep-rooted histories of various cultures. First, I sought this through music and individual instrumentation in the Iranian Society. As the only non-Farsi native speaker of the organization, I wanted to connect with the members through non-vocal methods; ushering myself to learn their coveted santur instrument. While there was a bit of a learning curve at first, I really enjoyed having a communal sense of adoration for the instrument’s beautiful sounds and delicate play style. Next, I met two graduate students from the Congo and West Africa who shared their love of the conga and djembe, respectively. These variants of drums produced unique sounds that the three of us have since listened to for years.
I share these stories not because I strive to meet new people and learn about their musical instruments, but because of the cultural and personal backstories that I learn in the process. Hearing about my Taiwanese roommate coming to America to avoid mainland Chinese threats, the Iranians growing up in war-stricken areas, and the Africans coming from financial and nutritional poverty, I have developed an emotional connection to these people; their culture, families, and histories. Using music as the base connecting point, one constant between all of the cultures that I have been introduced to has been their drive to immigrate to America. Growing up in suburban Northern Virginia and having hardly ever left the east coast my entire life, I never realized just how blessed I am for not having to face similar obstacles in my own life. I have since begun to unintentionally see other humans as family members, inspiring a deeply rooted drive to help one another through selfless action. Understanding the pain, struggle, and sacrifice that these immigrant individuals and families made for a better life is formidable and uplifts me to work towards helping others going down a similar path.
These experiences, combined with my understanding of developmental psychology, have led me to be slow to judge others and have encouraged me to work for the greater good of all life here on Earth. I have a self-established obligation to help coming generations, regardless of cultural origin, be able to thrive in a society where their survival is not continuously threatened. I recognize that I am in a position where I can make a significant impact if I fuel my decision-making with love and I start small while scaling up as I expand my knowledge base over time. With passions in medicine, engineering, technology, and education, I will continue to learn, try, adjust, and try again as I develop goods and services that facilitate the success of others with their respective goals.
Cross-cultural communication in medicine is unavoidable. The excellent doctors that I have seen go above and beyond their patient’s needs have always emphasized openness, acceptance, and a lack of judgment, regardless of cultural differences. A beautiful aspect of healthcare is the absence of any race, culture, or ethnicity that is safe from demise for long enough to never need to see a doctor. As a healthcare worker and future medical professional, I act from the depths of my heart, regardless of skin color or birthplace origin, to ensure the utmost delivery of care for all.
My most meaningful volunteer experience has been the creation of my passion projects: MCAT Daily Prep, Interview Daily Prep, and Class-to-Calendar. Voluntarily creating all three projects felt to be the obvious action to take in creating the future that I want to be a part of. As part of the Virginia Tech community and inspired by Ut Prosim, I wanted the project’s success to be attributed in equal amounts to Virginia Tech. For this reason, I have collaborated with individuals of Virginia Tech’s patent office, students and faculty in the computer science and neuroscience departments, Apex center for entrepreneurs, and countless Virginia Tech Alumni in order to create the most effective services of which I am capable. Expanding my network to incorporate people of all backgrounds is a skill that spawned from these projects and will, most certainly, be taken with me to my future medical school and beyond.
MCAT Daily Prep’s positive impact includes being able to facilitate successful MCAT studying through daily questions and explanations, online study sets, and community building. I created thousands of online flashcards that I wanted others to put to use, so I developed a space where users may answer daily questions and discuss outcomes. Molding student education based on individualized needs is an interest of mine that has grown since creating this service. Interview Daily Prep’s positive impact has been increasing one’s ability to feel comfortable in an interview and allowing users to practice expanding on ideas in a clear, methodically tracked way. Class-to-Calendar optimizes efficiency for students and parents of young children from elementary school to graduate school and beyond. This is done by converting student’s class, assignment, and meeting information all onto shareable Google Calendars. All of these projects have been built in stride with COVID-19 restrictions and lifestyle changes. Seeing these drastic life alterations through an optimistic lens has motivated me to help others adapt in any way possible.
I view this volunteer experience as a stepping stone down the path of creating more valuable projects in the future. Seeing the positive impact I was able to have inspired me to never stop working to help others in unique ways. Becoming a physician will strengthen my skill set, knowledge, insight, energy, and motivation in giving back to society. I have already noticed these changes on a smaller scale throughout my pre-medical undergraduate years and I have no plans on stopping now. I like to take Newton’s third law and add a personal twist, in the sense that the more value I give, the more value is given back to me. For this reason, my ideal life includes healing sick patients as a Doctor and voluntarily creating beneficial passion projects to reach a larger audience.
The reason why I do not spend my sole focus on developing more projects is that none of the three previously mentioned would have seen the light of day if it were not for my undergraduate education. I want the field of medicine to be an integral part of where I focus my attention moving forward. I love the challenge, mystery, and unique applications of medicine in regard to the human condition. For these reasons, I will happily continue to voluntarily create projects with no aim on monetary return.
My intention with all three passion projects has been to facilitate the success of the user in ways that were not previously offered. These projects have been important to me because they serve as my first attempts at receiving an idea and promptly acting to bring it to fruition. After being in school for my entire life, it felt refreshing to pursue my projects with the goal of reaching an audience outside of my own classroom. I felt drawn to provide easily accessible, payment-free services to a niche group and expand out as I grew more comfortable. Doing so has instilled a new way of thinking in me, one based on looking for ways of improving our world, embracing the challenge and struggle, and sticking with it to see people’s lives improve in the end.
From a young age, it has been clear to me that my passion lies in fitness. Aside from the physical transformation of my body, the lesser obvious and more significant influence that fitness has had on me is its transformation on my mind. Whether it be stress relief or endorphin release, my body and brain are exercised an equal amount with each workout. With each grueling repetition of any exercise, I can slow down time by reminiscing on long nights of studying, tough semesters with a busy schedule, and even my entire pre-medical school path thus far. Every muscle contraction signifies my ability to push through difficult life events while enjoying the process. Feeling the built-up lactic acid produce a burning sensation has taught me to see life’s struggles as opportunities for growth.
On a different note, working out is also my time for creative expression. Throughout my near-decade of exercise, I have rarely ever repeated the same workout twice. Whether it be changing repetition numbers, sets, exercises, routine order, contraction time, or rest time, I always enjoy walking into the gym and being spontaneous with my workouts based on how I feel each day. Not only does having such variety result in improved muscle conditioning, but I also end up feeling an eager excitement for each workout every day. In a field of objective truths where the scientific method is the path to unleash one’s creativity, I am thankful for my main hobby coincidentally being my creative outlet.
The feeling that I have following each workout has been so self-satisfying that I have thus felt drawn to ensure that others can feel this same way. I created a personal training business that, since its inception, has helped train hundreds of people across the world. In every client’s eyes, I see a past version of myself. Watching these everyday people transform out of their unhealthy habits and become rejuvenated with more youthfulness has been awe-inspiring. In a way, I can relate to how I imagine a physician would feel after seeing their patient spring back to life after administration of proper medication or post-operation.
For a time, I considered pursuing personal training as a career. However, becoming a physician is my primary objective. I intend to keep personal training as a hobby and as part of an overall regimen for good health. With that in mind, I do not hesitate to extract lessons from fitness and use them for my medical path. First, having worked in several roles across different clinical settings, one constant throughout is the importance of being an effective teacher in medicine. Whether it be informing patients on information regarding their condition, instructing coworkers on how to complete their task, or even proving to oneself that a topic is truly understood, teaching is an inevitable aspect of healthcare. Luckily for me, it is near impossible to get a novice weight-lifter to understand proper weight-lifting techniques in order to avoid serious injuries without any form of teaching. Throughout my years of personal training, I have been able to mold my teaching style around my strengths and preferred communication style. I found if I can give a general overview with words, followed by an instructional explanation with a visual demonstration, my clients were quick to understand and recreate. Furthermore, it is naïve to imagine medical school and the path to become a doctor as a stress-free road ahead. The importance of having a time and hobby dedicated to stress relief will become more pronounced with my years of training.
Just as I found love in the exercise of my body, in the same vain I have found a love for the exercise of my mind. Understanding a topic and applying it in a real scenario, to me, unleashes a similar feeling of accomplishment as hitting a new personal best in weight-lifting. I have had plenty of time to create a solid foundation for my mind and body to grow, and I look forward to seeing how medical school will catalyze more personal growth.
I am on the path to becoming a health professional. However, in the coming decade, I expect the typically known role of “doctor” to adapt to technological advancement. I know that change is coming, so I am preparing for change by learning about the field that I will work to make a change in. I choose to pursue healthcare because of the combination of research, clinical work, & teaching. I hope to shift medicine from reactive to proactive, focusing on preventative medicine. I am on the path to becoming a health professional. However, in the coming decade, I expect the typically known role of “doctor” to adapt to technological advancement. I know that change is coming, so I am preparing for change by learning about the field that I will work to make a change in. I choose to pursue healthcare because of the combination of research, clinical work, & teaching. I hope to shift medicine from reactive to proactive, focusing on preventative medicine.
I am deeply grateful to say that my family has remained healthy, both physically and financially, throughout the pandemic. I know that many others cannot say the same, so for this reason, I do not take any part of my life for granted. In terms of academics, I took online learning in stride by being able to prioritize my MCAT studying in the spring and personal projects in the fall while maintaining my highest GPA of college. I created a virtual mutual aid for struggling families connected to the New River Valley Special Olympics. I voluntarily offered body weight workout programs for members of my apartment community after our gym closed. I shared virtual shadowing opportunities with classmates who struggled to gain clinical experience.
Community service & Volunteer
Aside from my freelance personal training, I have spent years volunteering as a weekly bowler and office volunteer for Special Olympics. I have put time, effort, and money into not-for-profit services, like MCAT Daily Prep and my Diseases of the Nervous System Pocketbook. I have spent a semester as a class note-taker for an upper-level neuroscience course. I created a local virtual mutual aid network amidst the pandemic. I am currently voluntarily working on a self-interview practice tool.
I worked as a medical scribe in the emergency department for approximately one thousand hours. I have shadowed physicians in-person for thirty hours. The specialties include intensivist, anesthesiologist, and gastroenterologist. I have shadowed physicians virtually for five hours. These specialists included an orthopedic surgery resident, anesthesiologist, and pediatrician. I gained insight into how many different specialists operate as a connected team in both hospital and private settings.
My first experience as a leader came from working as a subcontractor. In college, I was a teaching assistant for four semesters worth of classes. In my fraternity, I was flown out to Dallas, Texas as the nomination for a leadership convention. Outside of classes, I signed up for the Virginia Tech program Lead for Good where I built an individualized medicine web service. As a volunteer, I worked independently before drafting a team of assistants for my mechanical engineering research project.
Transformative Non-patient Experience
My time at Virginia Tech was the most transformative experience of my life. I developed lifelong memories, friendships, and habits of mind through all of the trials and tribulations that I faced. Over the years, I found healthy methods of handling stress, both for short- and long-term situations. I learned the importance of surrounding myself with supportive peers, regardless of cultural association. I was humbled in more ways than I can count, academically, mentally, and physically. Being able to fail time and time again, but refusing to surrender, has inspired me to become a lifelong learner and pursue medical school. I now approach challenges with cautious optimism; unafraid to win or lose so long as I learn from my experiences.
Unique Med School Candidate
I am a unique candidate because I am selfless in my educational experience. I have voluntarily led projects that have helped thousands of students prepare for the MCAT and their individual classes, all while setting up volunteer opportunities for my classmates. I strive for the collective success of my fellow man inside the classroom and out. I am continually working on innovative ways to improve the medical education and healthcare system for myself, my peers, and my future patients.
Work & Research
My clinical work began with medically scribing and led me to become a clinical research coordinator during my gap year. These were in both hospital & private practice settings. My research was with the mechanical engineering department working on vocal fold prosthetics. I work as a personal trainer both paid and volunteer. Non-medically related work experience includes subcontracting, sports training, and experience in the retail industry. These all taught me skills that translate to medicine.
Hobbies, Interests, & EC’s
Hobbies around my physical health include weightlifting, gymnastics, and yoga. My hobbies for mental health include listening to podcasts covering a range of topics from philosophy to quantum computing. Hobbies involving my spiritual health include meditation, particularly mindfulness and transcendental meditation. Depending on my location, my rest days would include exploring nature and riding my bike, or simply basking in the sun by the beach. If possible, I will try to spend time with animals.
Memorable Patient Experience
I had the opportunity to shadow my Mother’s Intensivist co-worker for a full night shift. After being blown away by the complexity of equipment stationed over patients in the packed ICU, the provider and I made our way down to the quiet emergency department to counsel a young woman. This particular patient had the most severe case of jaundice that I have ever witnessed. I watched tears slide down this woman’s canary yellow skin as she was told that she needed to have a liver transplant if she wishes to live longer than a few months. This case showed me the stark reality that follows a lifestyle that does not favor one’s health. Before I could fully comprehend what I just witnessed, we both rushed to the next case to continue the night.
- I take into account client preferences, goals, and commitment levels before creating personalized workout routines and nutrition guides.
- My classmates struggled with some assignments and Zoom presentations, so I converted the class textbook into an online, easily accessible pocketbook.
- For my teaching assistant positions, I adjusted my teaching techniques for students based on their learning preferences and educational progress.
- Volunteered to create class notes for a course’s accommodations based on the needs of classmates who use services for students with disabilities.
- Voluntarily created supplemental MCAT-related flashcards, study schedules, and web services used by thousands of students across the nation.
- Trained a class of tenth graders in India for free who wished to follow my fitness advice in conjunction with their school’s physical education class.
- Drafted a team of Virginia Tech undergraduate researchers to work with based on strengths, weaknesses, and communication styles.
- Completed Virginia Tech’s five-week Lead for Good; worked on a shared goal with a team of four students of varying backgrounds, cultures, and age.
- I personally train and educate clients in groups of two to ten on proper workout form and technique tailored to individualized client goals and needs.
- Multi-year team captain for high school cross country; led team workouts, boosted morale for weekly races, and hosted team pre-race dinners.
- Played for and won football and basketball championships under multiple coaching staffs with different teammates, play styles, and positions played.
- As a subcontractor, I organized teams, ordered supplies, and outlined progress models for the overall improvement of the contractor’s company.
- Recognized where my community was most affected by COVID-19, analyzed my skill set, and then created free services to improve other’s lives.
- Recognize healthcare’s changing environment due to technological advancement and worked to develop new tools for colonoscopies and emergency medicine.
- Never missed a single shift, day or night, as a medical scribe despite taking a full class load, filled extracirriculars, and concurrent research.
- Never missed a weekly bowling session with the local Special Olympics despite schedule changes, job acquisition, and other life obligations.
- Refused to feel held down by my freshman year GPA and proceeded to improve my semesterly GPA for each semester since.
- Despite severe familial health setbacks, I completed my highest amount of credits in a semester and took on new extracuricullar responsibilities.
- Earned a certificate and never broke HIPAA while working as a medical scribe, medical assistant, or shadowing physicians.
- As a teaching assistant, I learned how to guide students to come up with answers themselves rather than simply giving answers to them.
- Researched chemical supplies that my research team used in order to create and mandate a laboratory safety guide.
- Fellow group members wanted to fudge data in order to support our lab class experimental hypothesis, I firmly disagreed and didn’t allow it to happen
- Sophomore year, I transformed a class’s final project into a local food drive for malnourished and unwell community members.
- I served as my fraternity’s Scholarship chair in order to help the younger, academically struggling members since I was once in that position.
- Maintained membership with the Persian club. I attended cultural events, learned parts of the Fārsī language, and practiced traditional percussion.
- Recognized America’s growing diversification; enrolled and finished Univ. of West Florida Innovation Institute’s 5 week cultural competency course.
- Developed projects with, and learned more about individuals from around the World, specifically Pakistan, Morocco, Italy, and Columbia.
- Cofounded the Calisthenics club with students from Dubai and Iran due to a shared passion for body weight training and coaching.
- Attended a fraternal leadership convention focused on addressing bias and ways to appropriately acknowledge, accept, and respect other cultures.
- Taught youth sports where I learned how to communicate through language barriers to students of varying ages, knowledge, and experience levels.