Thursday, August 11, 2005

He estado muy ocupado. De hecho, ahorita estoy en Chiapas, y no tengo mucho tiempo para trabajar en el internet, aunque tengo tanto que quisiera decir. En los días siguientes, tendré mas para escribir. Abajo usted puede leer mi "personal statement" que entregué como parte de mi solicitude de estudiar medicina.

I want to be a physician with a Masters degree in public health because it will enable me to contribute to the health and well-being of the refugees of war, famine and violence through organizations like Medecins Sans Frontieres. In places of profound instability such as the slums of Mogadishu, the generations-old Palestinian refugee camps in Gaza or Lebanon, and the deserts of Darfur, vulnerable people can become desperate. With a dual clinical and community health background I can both offer the care and support that every human being deserves, and I can collaborate on community health projects in the affected communities. Thus, rather than allow such people to become disillusioned, I can use my training to respect and engage the intrinsic value of the world's poorest citizens.

This world is an unhealthy and dangerous medium for the growth of many of its inhabitants, and I hope to help reverse the trends that perpetuate this unfortunate situation. There are, of course, many root causes of global problems such as environmental devastation, political instability and epidemic disease. Furthermore, each locale has its own epidemics and environmental dangers. For example, Baltimore, the city I was raised in, suffers from excessive addiction rates and pervasive violence that threaten entire communities on a daily basis.Since the causes of suffering are numerous, I could approach these problems from many distinct perspectives. However, since many of these problems are rooted in unhealthy and fractured communities, I intend to help heal communities with knowledge of clinical medicine and an informed background in public health.

While I am convinced of the nobility and necessity of such projects, I do not intend to become a medical nomad wandering the world and treating the sick. I have deep respect for individuals like Paul Farmer that work full time on health projects in endangered communities such as the AIDS patients of Haiti. Nevertheless, I will probably only do such work on temporary basis, eventually returning to my home community.

On the other hand, I am no less concerned about the security, health and harmony of communities that are not in such a dramatic stage of social breakdown. Poor and wealthy communities alike suffer from dangers as disparate as cancer and handgun violence that necessitate both individual medical treatment and community-wide knowledge and action.

For example, the citizens of the Wagner's Point neighborhoods in Baltimore City complained for years about their isolation from the rest of the city by several large chemical plants. These plants had a history of dangerous accidents and the only road out of the neighborhood went between two such chemical manufacturing facilities. The community organized itself and, with the help of public health professionals, articulated its concern that a strategically unfortunate chemical spill could trap and poison residents. The city finally bought out the neighbors after a dramatic chemical leak highlighted this real and present danger. While this may not have been exactly the resolution that the community wanted, my mother's role as an physician with a master's degree in public health was important in allowing the neighborhood's concerns to be taken seriously.

It is exactly this type of work that I hope to combine with the classical, clinical role of a physician. I am convinced that the best way to keep a community safe is not only to have enough doctors to treat all the possible chemical burns, but to use public health experience preventatively and in collaboration with the residents to allow them to provide for their own health and well-being.

That being said, I know my role as a clinical physician will bring me into close contact with the communities I treat. I intend to live in the neighborhoods of my patients if possible and encourage values of collective well-being as I care for individuals' well-being. Furthermore, it is in the separation of the poor and the rich and the segregation by race and religion that other profound fractures in society become institutionalized. I hope that in addition to simply treating individuals from all backgrounds, I can help build a community between them and overcome societal divisions that underlie many societal faults. These fault lines are often the basis of societal instability, violence, and ill will.

In my time abroad I have met and spoken with Argentine textile workers, Salvadoran-American housekeepers, Mexican peasant farmers and all measures of Cuban society. Getting to know such people was occasionally awkward for a relatively wealthy North American student like myself. Nevertheless, with a common language, a little bit of shared context, and some effort I got to know many of them as equals and build some form of communal bonds with them.

In some ways, I want to be a doctor in order to become wealthy. However, I define wealth by the strength and support of my community, and in this way I want to create such wealth for myself and my community.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I don't know who made this. i like when this text is talking about oventik, i lived there and i speak their language but i am not zapatista.whoever made this i want to say that this is a great job, i want to learn english and i can teach tsotsil (my first language) and i live in the USA, my Email is