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Essay workshop with Jennifer
Presentations on Medical Apartheid
Today’s Saturday academy started off with an essay workshop. Jennifer from the Public Health school came in to facilitate the discussion and show us some useful tips when writing our application essays. It was definitely useful to me because I rarely think about the essay portion of the medical school application. The things I primarily think about that will get me into medical school are how I look on paper and how my interview goes. Regardless, I learned a couple of important things that have to do with our essays. First, it can actually make or break you when applying to medical school. An example she gave us that will almost certainly break you are silly mistakes like grammar or forgetting to change the program you’re submitting the essay to. What makes a good essay is one that is reflective about yourself, and clearly answers the question on why you want to go to their medical school. I liked the way she put it: nothing will make you an expert in medicine before you go to medical school, but the admissions committees want to see that you are an expert on yourself, and the best way to see that is through an essay. Personally, for me, I often find my thoughts and beliefs hard to describe, which is something I obviously need to work on. On the other hand, if I just sit down and brainstorm the unique things about myself, I can think about a lot. I guess I just haven’t really given it a lot of time. I proved to myself that I am able to point out the unique things about myself because I was able to create a very detailed “life” map of different things about me.
After the essay workshop, we spent the rest of the day presenting on “Medical Apartheid.” The presentations were pretty standard, with people losing steam until about 1.5 presentations. I did learn one important thing about myself today. That is, during a discussion question, when I was sharing my thoughts, Medhat called me out because my idea was disjointed and seemed random. It is interesting to me that something makes so much sense in my head, but when I try to explain it to other people, it often times does not make sense. After Medhat made a comment about what I said, I was able to take a moment, and piece my thought together in a more organized manner in which case I was able to communicate it effectively. Essentially, before I start speaking, even if my thoughts make complete sense in my head, I need to give it about 10-15 more seconds to convert the thought into something that others will be able to comprehend. This is very important when I start doing interviews with medical schools. It is something that can be improved even in day to day interactions with people, which I intend to do. Overall, I enjoyed this Saturday academy.
This Saturday academy was informative in the sense of preparing for admissions to the school of your choice. Jennifer who is a part of the admission committee in the Public Health department shared important tips to have a successful admission letter. One thing that I found interesting in the length of admission letters is that it goes by characters and not words. Overall, this made me realize that my journey in my undergraduate portion of school is nearly over and I will be applying, getting accepted, and starting nursing school very soon. For nursing school a personal essay is not required but three essay questions are. I have realized that now is the time for me to start working on these questions and with the information I have been learning through the UPP program I should have some great answers! The second half of Jennifer’s presentation was the life cycle. After mapping out where I have been, where I am now, and where I am going I had the realization that my life has had many ups and downs but the majority of it has been up. It is comforting that I am at the point of my life that I am able to speak about the bad as well as the good. I realize that both the positive and negative that has happened to me is the foundation of whom I am as an overall person. It is heartfelt to see some of my fellow cohorts share their life map with everyone as well. I saw that many of us have had experiences that have happened to us that have shaped us to who we will become as future medical professionals. The part that was most intriguing was when Roshan stated that he didn’t include his medical education on his life map because it does not define him it is just a part of who he is. I think this point was an excellent one for yes we are aspiring to become great doctors, physician assistants, dentist, nurses, and audiologist but our future careers will not determine who we will evolve as people. After our morning presentation we then presented our Medical Apartheid exhibitions. Overall I think everyone did a good job with their presentations. This book was perhaps one of the most difficult ones to decipher out of everything that we had to present. Even though this book has shown us the pain and suffering that African American slaves were subjected to it is important to look at the overall picture even through its difficulty to see the positive outcome. Without these trials and tribulations the medical industry would not have evolved the way it has over the years. Now learning from these experiences, building trust and being honest will help to move forward between medical provider, patient, researcher, and research subject. In my opinion have the advantage of being a part of this the UPP program will help mold us into the great medical providers that are needed in this world!
November 10, 2013 Saturday academy
This Saturday academy really opened my eyes to how cruel medicine has been. The thing that hit me the most was from the discussion about Medical Apartheid was about Margaret Sanger’s mission to sterilize, and stop the reproduction of African Americans. She was the woman who started Planned Parenthood. I have always seen Planned Parenthood as a great entity, and a program that is for the good of our society. After really absorbing why it was started, I was able to think about how hard it was to be an African American woman before the Civil Rights Movement. Now, Planned Parenthood is for helping people of all ages with planning a family. This is a very great thing, but now I am skeptical if there are any hidden secrets behind the goals of the program. This Saturday academy really helped with uncovering my thoughts about past medical experimentation. I was really able to put myself in the shoes of the people doing the experiments, and I was able to see the thoughts behind the horrible actions. These people did not view the African Americans as humans, and had no remorse about experimenting on their bodies. Today we are able to see that this was awful, and are able to learn from the mistakes from our forefathers. I am able to take all this information to help become a better doctor and even a better person. I now have the knowledge of why African Americans do not trust our medical system, and the ways I can approach fixing this distrust. It has helped me set the goal of getting this trust back through my future medical practices.
Before our discussion about the novel Medical Apartheid, we were able to make life maps to help us start our personal statement. I see that the personal statement is going to be something I am going to struggle since I am a poor writer. Because of this, I truly appreciate this session. I am still reflecting on why I truly want to become a doctor, and how I can use my past to form the perfect personal statement to show this. From my life map I have been able to pin the points of my life that are significant such as my mother passing away, going into an OR for the first time, and just my family being important roles of why I want to become a doctor.
Overall, this session has helped me take the next small step to cultural awareness. I am becoming more conscious of what a great opportunity UPP truly is. For people of all different cultures and backgrounds to come together and discuss the medical field is truly amazing. I never would have dreamed of this opportunity. It has opened my eyes to the real world, and has made become aware of how little I know about different cultures and past history of America. Also, it has showed me my ignorance and biases that I have had for no reason. I have been able to overcome these through ever session just from gaining knowledge.
The great African American advocate and civil rightist, W.E.B. Dubois, once opined, “Education is that whole system of human training within and without the school house walls, which molds and develops men.” He argued that African Americans would be liberated through education. This Saturday Academy integrated a similar philosophy. Beginning with a writing workshop, each fellow was asked to free write, make a life map, and share one or the other with the cohort. Although seemingly juvenile, this exercise was very helpful and allowed each fellow to assess pertinent aspects of their life. Following the exercise, the UPP cohort attended a workshop on writing a powerful personal statement; the workshop was very beneficial as it allowed the fellows to learn what makes a strong personal statement. Evaluating the sample essays was a key segment of the workshop. In the afternoon, the UPP cohort listened to and gave presentations on Harriet Washington’s literary work, Medical Apartheid The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black American from Colonial Times to Present. Each presentation was most edifying. Not only did the presentations elucidate the facts of medical experimentation on Black Americans logically and coherently, but they encouraged audience participation, shattering the typical presenter-audience relationship that is a staple of this program. Analogously, the presentations were not limited to Medical Apartheid The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black American from Colonial Times to Present; the presentations extended to modern human experimentation, government experimentation on its citizens, artwork and film, and possible solutions to human experimentation in science. It is important to remember that it is widely unethical to approve a drug for humans that have not been trialed on humans; monkeys, rats, and other mammals fail to resemble the human body completely. Consequently, human experimentation is tricky. As aspiring medical professionals, the UPP fellows must be aware of this omnipresent scientific quandary. In retrospect, this Saturday Academy was truly edifying and wholly educational.
Today’s Saturday Academy, besides the nerve-wracking drive home in the snow afterwards, was a wonderful experience! It was, as always, wonderful to see all of my fellow UPP cohort members this morning. After catching up with everyone, we started the day off with a wonderful presentation and workshop by Jennifer Pacheco. Jennifer spoke to us about writing our essays for applications to graduate and medical school. I am currently working on personal statements for my applications to four different doctor of audiology programs, so Jennifer’s presentation came at a perfect time! Jennifer spoke to us about the importance of an essay in relation to rest of an application. An essay, she said, should give a voice to your application. It gives an admissions committee an opportunity to learn about you and your background, as well as your unique personality. In addition, Jennifer discussed various options for essay topics. She guided us in an activity where we wrote for a few minutes about the prompt, “I remember when…” This was an eye-opening activity, because it showed me how easy it can be to write something meaningful in a short period of time. I think that I often am worried to start an essay because I don’t really know what to write about, or I’m worried about not having enough to say. However, during the activity with Jennifer, I let myself just write and not worry about everything sounding perfect or fitting into a specific topic. Jennifer encouraged us to free-write like we did in the activity as frequently as possible. These free-writes can become the foundation for essays. Of course, they would require much editing, but having ideas down is sometimes the most difficult part!
Jennifer spoke to us about letting our history and life experiences shine through our essays. To illustrate this point while helping us understand our own histories in relation to our future, Jennifer facilitated our creation of “Life Maps.” This was, by far, my favorite part of the day. Equipped with a sheet of paper and an array of colorful markers, I let my past, present and future experiences intertwine to form my own colorful life map. I documented events such as my childhood on a farm in La Junta, CO, my move to Colorado Springs and back to La Junta, my college journey that led me to UPP and my current whirlwind of decisions regarding graduate school. My map ended as I became an audiologist at a hospital and started a family. It was amazing to see my life, with all of my family and location changes and life-altering decisions, mapped out in one place. I realized that each big moment in my life had a special purpose. Whether it was to meet someone influential or to challenge me to grow into a stronger person, each experience made me who I am today and who I will be in the future. I gained immense insight on my life and potentially powerful essay topics from this amazing activity.
As Jennifer concluded her presentation, we transitioned into our Medical Apartheid group presentations. I enjoyed everyone’s presentations and the amount of work that each group put into their facilitation of discussion. While many discussion topics related to the same general themes of medical ethics in present day and throughout history, in addition to importance of informed consent and how to move forward as physicians, each group addressed the general themes of the book from a different perspective. For example, our group looked at the importance of “Medical Apartheid” and the events illustrated in the book through the eyes of science and history. Then, we discussed how we can learn from history and move forward with science. Other groups discussed animal experimentation and alternate experimentation options, current tendencies for racial differences in medical experimentation and the option of condemning past medical experimenters for their actions. These issues are not easily solved, but definitely enlightening to discuss. One of the best points that was brought up was that science builds upon history, and it is fair to say that we would not have the wealth of scientific knowledge that we do without important historical events in scientific research. While we cannot condemn and punish unethical scientific practices performed in history, we can learn from them and become aware to their presence in current medical practices. I’m already looking forward to our next Saturday Academy!
This Saturday Academy, we had a personal statement writing workshop (part 1) and our Medical Apartheid group presentations. During the writing workshop, we were shown common mistakes and we were given tips to make a great personal statement. One of the exercises we did (which I wished we would have done more of) was the short writing to a random prompt for three minutes. We used to do this exercise in my high school AP Literature class (except our teacher would play music for us and the tone would change). I definitely need to do this more (mainly because I enjoy writing personal statements). What surprised me about the personal statements is that many people dread this part most. Personally, writing is my strong point (not synopses), and I am actually very excited to HAVE to focus on writing again- it is one of the things I miss most about non-science courses. I feel like I have substantial life experiences to create an effective personal statement to any prompt. One tip that we were given was to know exactly what we want to do, which is where I think I am developed. While I am not sure which particular area I want to go into, I know that primary care is where I will be most useful and where I will be able to work more in under-served communities (which is my passion).
The second portion of the day, which was group presentations, seemed to last forever. Everyone could tell that we (the entire cohort) was busy with school and was not able to put as much into this presentation as the two over the summer. While I was satisfied with most of the presentations and they all touched on important points, I was particularly impressed with Jamie, Wesley, Harraz, Roshan, Andi's group presentation. Whoever thought to use art as an aid was the pivotal part of the presentation. It was nice that the historical analysis was easily conveyed by paintings (which I obviously miss as much, if not more than writing). What I took home from the presentations, the message from all of them combines, was that yes, there have been horrible atrocities that have occurred in the past, but we do not harp on them, we just learn from the wrongdoings of the past, do everything in our power to not repeat them, and move forward. Also, I particularly remember the importance of diversifying the medical field. For this reason particularly, I am proud of the programs that the University of Colorado has enabled that focus on this goal particularly (BA/BS-MD Program and Undergraduate Pre-Health Program). I am also very fortunate to be a part of this vision that has been put in place by some remarkable people.
Today's Saturday Academy was extremely interactive. Jennifer, from the admissions board of the University of Colorado Denver|Anschutz Medical Campus School of Public Health, led a part one of an essay writing workshop. The majority of us UPP students will be applying to graduate schools of some sort, and essay writing is a big portion of the application that one can make a difference on. We discussed hard skills vs. soft skills, where hard skills are mainly MCAT/DAT/GRE scores, and soft skills are more like your interview, or your essays.
I had a wonderful time during the free-writing session we had. It is an amazing method of self-reflection, and pulling things out of your subconscious into your writing. As we went over each other's ideas, we discussed which ideas would serve well in an application essay. We also went over previous essays that were used to apply to medical school. When we applied a score to these essays through a grading rubric, we were able to examine what we would like to see from an admissions officer's point of view. I though that was extremely helpful because it challenged me to broaden my perspective on the entire application process.
One of the more laid-back activities we participated in was the life map activity. I found that I organized my life map based on where I have traveled and where I have lived throughout my life. There are so many memories that have been made outside of home. Upon reflecting on the concept of home for me, I realized that home is wherever my parents are, and not necessarily a specific location. As I move on and continue to work on my true medical school application in the future, I will be sure to consider the major events in my life, as detailed in my life map. Overall, the presentation was stellar and I deeply enjoyed Jennifer's writer's workshop.
Afterwards, we moved onto our presentations about Medical Apartheid, by Harriet A. Washington. Many group presentations initiated group discussions, some of which, became quite heated. Although some of the debates on ethical practice were not settled, by bringing up the topic and thinking about it, I believe that we have made progress on making a difference someday. Overall, the presentations challenged me to be more cognizant of what it is I am doing. I don't want to wake up 20 years from now and realize that I am an unethical researcher, or medical practitioner. In the same sense, I want to make sure that other aspiring health care professionals, as well as those who apply to medical school after I become a physician know that these tragic and gruesome events have happened in our past. As stated by Elie Wiesel, a holocaust survivor: "For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time."
The highlights of the day were a workshop on essays for applications to graduate schools and the presentations on the book Medical Apartheid. The Saturday Academy of November 10th, 2012 started with the workshop about essays for applications to graduate schools. The presenter, Jennifer, from the School of Public Health, did a spectacular job on introducing the material to us. She explained what should and should not be part of an essay, as well as how the essay should look like. She also mentioned that neither typos nor grammatical mistakes are acceptable, and that several drafts shall be drafted before submitting an essay. Medhat, on a side note, advised us to start drafting our essay as soon as possible, in case that some of us have not yet started writing it. Jennifer also engaged the group in many activities that overall, in my opinion, were both exciting and worth it the time they took. For instance, I had never realized that, in three (3) minutes, I could write a paragraph that – after polished – could be part of my essay for my dental school application. That experience excited and encouraged me to finally start drafting my essay. Another activity that I believe was very productive was the life map. At first, it was hard for me to get started on that project, and it also was challenging to decide what should and should not be in my life map. However, after I started composing my life map, it became easy to jot down important things that affected my life, such as my career change, marriage, and kids. In addition to that, I was surprised to learn that our expectations for the future should also be insert in our essay. Therefore, I can say that I really enjoyed this activity. On the other hand, I did not enjoy our next activity as much. We were told to skim through a few essays and point out some of the mistakes we found. I was not excited about this activity because I already knew that these essays should be free of mistakes, and that they should also entertain our future interviewer. Although it was not a bad activity, in my humble opinion, it was a bit boring. However, my overall opinion is that workshop was interesting, and that it added to my previous knowledge about graduate school application essays. The second event of the day was the groups’ presentations about the book Medical Apartheid, written by Harriet A. Washington. Even though this book marks horrible events that have been happening on the lives of African Americans in the United States, it is a very informative reading. It reminded us that racism still happens, and that, unfortunately, medical research based on skin color is still part of our lives. All of the information was extremely sad and I felt a bit angry and disappointed at out society. I could understand the point of slave owners at the times of colonialism, but I still cannot understand the point of those who even several decades later – if not centuries later, still practice medicine based on skin color. The book also chocked me because I always had the erroneous thought that this issue was not racial, but an economical issue. I used to view these issues separate from each other. However, after having read this book, I learned that these are two problems that cannot be analyzed separately, and that racism of every type, indeed, still affects African Americans. The presentations per se, in my opinion, were valuable and reflected all the hard work that the groups put into their presentations. The presentations also demonstrated that the presenters went deep on the subject, and for this reason, the discussions were live and exciting. It is true that I could not be present to watch all of the presenters, but the presentations that I watched were outstanding. Thanks to the Undergraduate Pre-Health Program, via Medhat and Dre, for introducing this book to us. It increased my knowledge about racism and enlightened my understanding on the consequences of racism on health care.
The Saturday Academy this week focused on many presentations based on the book called Medical Apartheid The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black American from Colonial Times to Present by Harriet Washington and an essay workshop by Jennifer Pacheco.
The UPP cohorts did many group presentations regarding Medical Apartheid. Based on the title, you can tell that it is about the history of black people but specifically on how they were treated in the medical committee due to the lack of respect and freedom. The groups were assigned different questions regarding the book to present to the other fellow cohorts to discuss among each other. One of the topics that stood out to me the most was about the good that came out of all of the discrimination against the black community back in the 1950s. It was mentioned in the book that Planned Parenthood was created to decrease the population of black people by giving them birth control pills. Now in the present time, women use these contraception methods openly due the accessibly of the pill to excel in their career. If Planned Parenthood were not found, many women who do not have the income or maturity to have a baby would already have one today. Another discussion that was appealing to me was about the current animal testing system. In modern times, rats are being used in animal testing but why is it so easy to test on mice but not other animals? Back in the 1950s, rabbits were actually used in trials for morning sickness pills but when the pill was used on humans, the babies turned out deformed. The researchers failed to see this because rabbits undergo spontaneous abortion when defects are present. Therefore, rabbits are not good animals to compare to human. Researchers had to fine a new method to test on before going to human testing. Mice and monkeys have been used currently but the ethics behind it was hard to discuss because everyone had different moral believes. Overall, the discussion about the content in Medical Apartheid based on what morals you have so you can determine what is the best thing to do when life presents a troubling problem.
Jennifer Pacheco talked about how to write a good essay by mapping out an outline of your life. Many of the cohorts were really creative by drawing out a timeline of their life and what has influenced them the most. I felt more connected to the people who presented their map because it shows what they went through in the past, what they are going through currently, and their expectation of life.
Mrs. Pacheco also gave the cohort some pointer about how to write a good essay. The pointers included, but not limited to, write about what makes you want to go into the health profession, not why you didn’t want to, and to be concise in the personal statement. She brought some essays that we can review to decide which one was good and which one was not. This was a great exercise because clearly shows actual personal statements that were submitted and reviewed. All in all, the workshop helped me with starting to think about my personal statement.
The latest Saturday Academy consisted of a Personal Statement portion led by Jennifer Pacheco, followed by our cohort's presentations on the book "Medical Apartheid" by Harriet Washington. The Personal Statement portion consisted of a free-writing period, a "Life Map" activity, and critiques of sample personal statements. The free-writing activity, during which we were given three minutes to continue the prompt "I remember when..." stumped me a little bit. It was difficult for me to single out one event that I believed was unique enough to write about. I ended up writing about the lyrics to a song that involved those words. I suppose the free-writing activity was not necessarily meant to require the recall of a life-changing moment. However, it seems as if the point of a personal statement is, in part, to relate an event or a series of events that led to me wanting to become a doctor. If I want to write a stellar, or even satisfactory personal essay, I will surely have to be able to do exactly what this prompt suggested and much more. I suppose I will have to reflect on my life a bit more. The life map activity confirmed my suspicions. I had difficulty relating my life's events in a meaningful way. Of course, my life hasn't been completely uneventful, and I have most definitely grown and changed along the way. I believe I need to begin to insert these sorts of questions into my daily life-- I need to start to ponder exactly why I want to become a physician. I know that the answers are there; I just need to learn to see them and articulate them. When I applied to UPP, I had made my first attempt at a personal statement. I don't remember being particularly satisfied with it. I know that I will have much more to say soon. The Medical Apartheid presentations were hit or miss for me. All of the groups did their due diligence in considering and answering the evaluation questions. However, it seemed to me that the evaluation questions tended to become somewhat redundant, and spurred discussions that were not as cohesive and insightful as I knew our cohort was capable of. I do believe this book and the associated discussion was vital. I recognize now that even physicians and the most respected members of society are perfectly susceptible to corruption, ignorance, laziness, and sheeplike group thinking. I believe that, historical atrocities aside, this was the most important theme addressed in the book. As a new generation of healthcare providers, we must always remember that the medical establishment remains far from infallible, and that many of its traditions have succeeded on the exploitation of those who are less fortunate. We must refrain from becoming overly comfortable with established ways of thinking and constantly critique and evaluate our behavior and practices. While this past Saturday Academy fell into redundancy near the end, it certainly presented some essential ideas.
This Saturday academy started with Jennifer, a member of the admissions committee at the School of Public Health, working with the fellows through a number of writing exercises. These exercises gave me many ideas regarding what I should write about in my personal statement. One exercise that we did was writing about whatever came to our minds for three minutes. I didn’t perform very well at this task since I was thinking about many things and couldn’t pick one to write about. Another exercise that helped me was making a life map. This life map involved my past, present and future experiences and people who were very influential throughout my life. While looking back on my life, I was really surprised by the impact that many of my past mentors made on my decision to pursue medicine. To write my personal statement, I really have to think about my life experiences and how they have affected me today. This Saturday academy has proven to me that I need to set time aside for self-reflection on a regular basis. I believe that writing my personal statement will be one of the hardest parts of completing my application for medical school.
The second part of this week’s academy was comprised of many presentations from groups of students regarding the novel Medical Apartheid by Harriet Washington. These groups presented several great discussion points that pushed me to analyze Medical Apartheid much more than I did the first time I read it. One discussion point that I found particularly interesting was: “If you were a doctor in the 1800s, how would you have treated African Americans in medicine and research?” At first I instantly thought that I would be a physician with strong morals who wouldn’t give way to the pressures of racism and dangerous medical experimentation at, but then I quickly realized that the morals taught to my generation might have been different than those taught to people in the 19th century. Many religions have firm sets of moral codes that haven’t changed for a long time, and Christianity was particularly prevalent in America as it is today. Some morals that are taught by this religion are forgiveness and treating other’s with care and respect. These morals haven’t changed much, but in the 19th century, these morals were only applied to white people since African Americans were considered to be an inferior, non-human race. When I think about these views, I would like to imagine that I would not have been like the majority of physicians during this time, but I also realize the social pressures to fit into this racist culture. A second question that I found interesting was whether or not people should be blamed or, in applicable cases, punished for racial crimes they’ve committed while these actions were considered acceptable by the majority of society. This question mainly related to the treatment of African American’s in early America, but when I heard this question, I instantly thought about the Nuremberg trials. In the Nuremberg trials, many military officials were receiving prison sentences for crimes they committed against humanity during the Nazi regime. Many of these people justified their actions by saying they were “just following orders,” but many of them were still imprisoned. I believe that many of these officials were justly persecuted. When I think about the terrible things that physicians did to African Americans during the1800s, I am even more appalled since these physicians were not following any orders. Culture did dictate what they should do, but they would not have been murdered if they disobeyed cultural norms. With the moral teachings of the time, people should have still realized that people of all races deserved just treatment. I can’t get rid of my hindsight bias on this issue.
Overall, I thought that this week’s academy was mind-opening in a number of ways. The presentations this week over Medical Apartheid were much better and more engaging than the presentation we gave over the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I hope that the presentations will continue to improve.
In this month’s Saturday Academy, we did the first part of the personal essay workshop and presented our Medical Apartheid presentations. I really enjoyed the personal essay workshop. I learned what a strong personal essay includes and what soft and hard skills are. Jennifer Pacheco conducted several activities that were not only fun, but also really informative. Her tips were very helpful in what should and should not be included. It’s nice to know what to steer clear of, as this essay is very important. Overall, the activities got me thinking about my life in the sense of who I am and what events impacted me. Drawing out my life map was difficult at first. I felt stumped because I didn’t know where to start, what exactly to put, or what sounded “good”. I quickly realized this is my life map and whatever I put on it means something to me. When I finished my map, I started connecting the dots in what I could possibly include in my personal essay. We have to write a personal essay before part 2 of the workshop and I’m hoping by then my essay will flow better than what it’s starting to look like in my head. I’m a bit nervous to write my personal statement just because I’m not a very strong writer and I sometimes run into difficulties. I hope part two of the workshop will make me feel a lot better about this whole process. Some nursing schools do not require a personal essay, but they require a response to essay questions in which I hope this workshop helps me with my skills in writing a strong response. I will be applying in a year or two, but thinking about this now is beneficial. There’s nothing wrong with getting ahead of the game.
The second half of the day consisted of Medical Apartheid presentations. This book was difficult to read, but made me realize, as all the other books have, how crazy the medical history has been. It’s sometimes difficult to talk about as well. All of the presentations were different, but most of the concepts/ideas/answers we discussed were alike or came from the same idea. I felt like by the time my groups presented most groups’ already covered similar questions and have already gone over and discussed all of the ideas. This book presented many difficult questions and the ones I really struggled with were “how could have this gone differently?” All these experiments were so immoral and unethical. What came through my mind first was if this didn’t all happen, would we have the same practice as we do today? How would we know what was unethical or ethical? Where would we get this basis? How do we know what we like and don’t like? What should we have practiced on? What about animals? It’s hard to come up with one forward answer; rather I come up with even more questions. Reading these books, discussing these difficult topics, and presenting many ideas is increasing our knowledge of the past and helping us with the future.
Events: Personal Statement workshop with Jennifer Pacheco, Medical Apartheid Presentations
I was looking forward to this Saturday academy because of the personal statement workshop especially. Jennifer Pacheco was a familiar face and it was a treat to work with her throughout the morning. She did a good job of presenting what personal statements consist of and things we should be thinking about when applying. I enjoyed the Life Map activity because it was a fun and lighthearted activity. I didn’t feel as much pressure when I thought of my personal statement as personal. It is daunting to think of writing a personal statement, but it was helpful that she changed my mindset to just start by free writing and thinking of life experiences that shaped who I am today and reflecting upon that in a professional manner for medical schools to review. I always felt as though personal stories were cheesy, but this workshop helped look at professional ways to reveal very personal information about yourself and how it brought you to where you are today—applying to medical school. I kept the example essays and I want to use those to determine what I like and don’t like in an essay and how I can formulate my own style from them. I am not a very open person with emotional circumstances nor do I think its professional to be too open with personal information so I think it’s going to be a challenge for me to write how I feel and establish a professional/personal relationship with my viewers. In class we are drilled to write without including first person experiences so it is always a struggle for me to overcome this in my writing—including these journals. After this workshop I actually bought the “Essays that will get you into medical school” book that was presented to us and I plan to start using this book to formulate my personal statement and help me with application essays. My critiques of this workshop would be that I didn’t get a good start on my personal statement. It would have been ideal to have developed or formulated at least an outline of what I may write about while she was there to kind of look over the rough beginnings of the statements. It would have been a good use of time and helpful to have her direct input or the direct input of any mentor present.
The Medical Apartheid presentations took up the last half of the day and I feel most of them turned out relatively well—better than our last presentations. I was pleased with my group’s performance, despite busy schedules we were able to develop what I felt to be an invigorating presentation that challenged the group to think and discuss. I enjoy getting discussion out of these presentations that challenges you to think in an adverse way. I found Medical Apartheid to be a good read despite the lengthiness and difficulty of the material presented. It was mostly factual based and I didn’t feel as though it presented too many bias opinions although I did point out a few when reading. But, this is not atypical of a book like this. Group 1 had one of my favorite discussions on eugenics and Negro Project with Margaret Sanger’s role. They did a great job presenting on this information and I found it a good controversial topic to discuss among the group. I think it is incredible that this is something the government not only allowed, but supported. This is information more people should know about and I feel extremely lucky to have had these ethical/moral debates as future physicians. These are real issues that we not only need to be informed about, but need to be able to react to in the face of a changing healthcare system as to be careful not to repeat history in anyway. These unfortunate actions that took place in the past need to be recognized in order to prevent them from happening in the future; it also challenges current and future physicians to question their morals and determine whether they are making responsible decisions as healthcare providers. A decision we don’t see as moral or unmoral may be viewed differently twenty years from now so it is crucial that we don’t let our guard down and comply to unethical behavior just because everyone else around us is doing it. Group 4 also did a terrific job presenting on the history of dehumanization in research and incorporating tremendous art pieces to get their point across to the audience. This is a method of teaching we don’t see much so it is a great variation to the typical to-the-point presentations. I was able to connect with the art pieces and see the value in analyzing what people of that era who witnessed these events saw. Viewers should be cautioned with artwork because it is a very biased approach to depicting history. But, the way this group walked the audience through the pieces was extremely effective in my opinion. Overall, I found this to be a good book and Saturday we had good presentations and great discussion in which we were all challenged to think about our morals and how we make ethical decisions in the face of a difficult situation. It is a foundational piece necessary in practice to move from being a good physician to an exceptional physician and I feel extremely fortunate to have had this experience because it is not something we explore in class often.
This Saturday Academy was so useful! I really appreciated that the counselor from the School of Public Health came down and helped us out with our personal statements. I finally have some examples to look at and examine as I prepare my own personal statement. I have a good idea of what I am planning to say, but these examples will help get ideas flowing. What I really liked about the portion of the personal statement presentation was that Jennifer offered tips on what to write about. Writing my high school personal statement was definitely not easy, so any help that I can get in writing the graduate school statement is greatly appreciated. The personal statement workshop arrived just in time too since I will be applying to graduate programs this spring. I think that doing an in-depth critique of each of these personal statements that were handed to us is going to be useful because it will show me what to do and what not to do. I know that a personal statement is supposed to support your resume and application, and offer some insight as to what I learned from these activities, but I want my personal statement to show my interests, my personality, and my style. It’s hard to encompass all of these things in such a limited amount of space, and it does not help that I like to write a lot. I do tend to get very metaphorical and fancy with my writing if I am trying to hard, and while that may make my personal statement stand out from the usual “blah” that these programs receive, I am not sure if this is something that would help me.
Another portion of the personal statement presentation was about out timelines. I had a very difficult time creating mine. I did not put much color into it because I spent most of my time just thinking about everything in my life. I wanted to make it sound reasonable and logical on the paper, and this was really difficult. Nevertheless, I did manage to crank out a great timeline with plenty of details.
The second half of the day was about the presentations on Medical Apartheid. It was a shame that one of our group members could not make it because she was sick, but I took over what she had to say. Overall, I would say that my group’s presentation went very well. I like speaking and being the center of attention though, but I certainly find it to be helpful whenever any other member of my team wants to chime in. In fact, I relish those moments because I can think of a way to refocus myself on what I was saying if I started to go off on another tangent. Since our questions were very unrelated to the actual book, I found it nice that I could incorporate art and other important events in history to the presentation. Not very many people liked to participate though, and I am curious as to why. I would like to think that our presentation wasn’t boring, but I would be biased because I was one of the people that worked on it. What I liked most about the presentation was getting the other members of the program to think about the discussion questions. Medhat had to ask some people to participate, but there were some interesting conversations that were being had. One thing that can be improved for our next presentation is the amount of time everyone speaks. I left the floor relatively open, and I wasn’t hogging up time just ranting on. I would like for there to be more participation, but I don’t know if this is an achievable goal considering that our group was the second-to-last group. At that point of the academy, I believe that everyone just wants to leave, but it’s not fair to the last groups that are presenting.
Overall, there was a great discussion on the book. At some point, I felt like someone was accusing me of being stuck in the past because I had said that, during one group’s scenarios, a white doctor was exploiting a black slave child. I feel like my assumption is safe considering the content of the book, and the fact that this is how race and power has always played out in America. I do realize I need to be more sensitive with my words, but this is certainly no matter to be sensitive about. I loved this book, and I found it to be truly inspirational.
This past Saturday Academy, we spent the first part of the day learning about writing our personal statements. We learned that personal statements are our chance to stand out from the statistics on our transcripts and to make ourselves look unique. I always get some anxiety when we talk about writing personal statements. Since so much emphasis is put on just one essay, there is a lot of pressure to make it an exceptionally good piece of writing. At this point in my life, I don’t know if I have ever written something that is up to par for a medical school application. Also, so many essays are written every year – how am I going to make mine stand out from the rest? What astounding subject can I come up with, and how can I use it to make myself sound appealing to a committee? What if I can’t?
After I had a small mental breakdown about writing personal statements, we participated in the activity of making a life map. A life map involves making a large poster about your life, using drawings, words, quotes, people, events, activities, etc. that helps to show how your life has lead you to where you are now, and where it may lead you in the future. I enjoyed this activity immensely, and I had a lot of fun making my life map. I included people that are important to me, like my family and my friends. I included things that have been meaningful in my life, like basketball, La Veta, the University of Colorado Denver. I put a lot of random smiley faces, because I like my life and who I am. I also included some question marks, because I still don’t know what is going to happen. My map ended with a picture of me as Superman – I am very optimistic about my future. I deliberately made mine scattered, cheerful, and a little hard to understand. This is to represent the fact that even I sometimes don’t completely understand my life. However, this isn’t a bad thing. My map was kind of chaotic, but me feel like I had a lot of possibilities and that I am living life spontaneously, which I like. When Medhat tried to look at my life map, he told me that he didn’t really want to look at it anymore. I told him that this was perfectly fine, as it was my life map, and not his.
Then, we ate Chipotle Burritos and talked about the book Medical Apartheid. This was interesting, but I feel that talking about the same concepts for five hours is repetitive and unnecessary. I was a part of the last group to present. By this time, all of the concepts in our presentation had been brought up and debated about for hours. I had used my talking points in the discussions for other people’s presentations, and most of our slides had been covered in one way or another. I suggest less time for each group. We are all presenting on the same book, so we can only cover it for so long. However, as usual, I was impressed by the depth of the conversations that were held. It was interesting to hear everyone’s take on the book.
This past Saturday Academy, we spent the first half of our days interacting with Jennifer Pacheco on the first portion of our personal statement workshop. Initially I wasn't as excited for the workshop, as I've always been comfortable with presenting and portraying myself in a manner consistent with my own ethos, and never deemed writing a personal statement one of my top priorities. However, after the workshop, I find myself worried about coming up with a personal statement that can accurately and precisely define my ethos. I am still unsure of where the substance in my personal history lies, specifically where my desire to enter the health and science fields lie. Going through the workshop and UPP thus far, I realize that my attitude towards my own writing is cocky, as my ability to write strong, personal essays has diminished since high school. Although I still have the better of two and a half years until I formally apply to my post-undergraduate programs of my choice, I have a lot to think about – my intentions, my desires, and most importantly, what makes me a candidate for lifelong learning.
The second half of the day was spent discussing the anthology “Medical Apartheid” by Harriett A. Washington, which was by no means easy to read – especially with my personal historical interests and preferred writing styles. However, it does highlight a lot of the unethical practices that are products of inherent institutionalized discrimination; all of which need to be brought to the attention of the general public, especially those interested in pursuing a career in the health field. Although I am by no means a philosopher or a sociologist, I find it relevant for the discussion of this novel to discuss the semantics and, what I deem, the ‘gray area’ of ethics and cultural relativism. A lot of what was done relied heavily on cultural norms and ‘accepted practices’ at the time, as well as the tendency for personal bias to affect our historical analysis of past events – as any historian should move to remove any personal bias before discussion. This isn't to say that what was committed was not deplorable or atrocious – as saying so would be simple-minded and naïve. However, it is of my that to better understand an issue, one must begin by understanding both sides of the issue inside and out, making it difficult for me to form a more ‘stable’ opinion from reading one novel. In terms of the presentations, I found many of them to be well-thought out and provocative in nature. However, as a member of the last group to present, it was easy to pick up traces of ennui from both audience and presenters due to the repetitive nature of the information portrayed in all of the presentations. This isn't to say that there wasn't richness and depth to our discussion; I found the discussions posed between PowerPoint slides to be the most useful, as they provided diversity in thought and style of presentation, providing the more honest and less constricted types of thoughts and opinions needed when discussing a book of this caliber. For that reason, I feel that, although much more difficult to formalize and regulate, a Socratic Seminar type method of discussion would be as, if not more useful, in our discussion of these books.
Today’s Saturday academy was quite helpful and as always, it was nice to see everyone in the cohort again. Our presenter was Jennifer Pacheco. During the summer, she presented about the School of Public Health and that presentation definitely brought fourth my interest in studying epidemiology. Of course, her presentation today did not disappoint. She described the ins and outs of writing the perfect essay in order to get into the graduate school of choice. First, she explained the differences between hard skills and soft skills and why it is important to highlight each skill. Hard skills might include an MCAT score, gpa, and a resume. Soft skills, on the other hand, include letters of recommendation and also the essay. The essay is basically meant to highlight all of the wonderful qualities a person has that they are unable to mention in the resume. These skills are not portrayed in grades, which is why it is so important to discuss them in the essay. This was a great point; I had not realized that there are two different skill-sets.
Jennifer also discussed possible methods for formatting an essay. An essay can be in the form of a story, it can describe actual experiences or significant people in our lives, and also life-changing events. Anything that brings the reader to remember the applicant for his or her special skills is the ultimate goal. We also drew life maps which displayed past, current, and future events on a timeline. Many people went up to present their timelines. This was a fun experience because I was able to learn more about my peers and about their experiences. Hearing about their experiences, I could not help but to feel proud and honored to know these students, primarily because they have all gone through unique obstacles and they have always found the strength to surpass those obstacles. It was also great to see that although we have taken different routes to get to the present moment, it is wonderful that we are all united in the same cause which is to offer outstanding health care one day.
Finally, we watched different groups who presented information about the Medical Apartheid book. It was fantastic to hear the different ideas and questions that were brought up by the groups. I found it interesting that the data presented in this book could be discussed in so many different ways. Overall, today was productive and very helpful.
To start off this month’s Saturday academy we went over a presentation about writing personal statements and how to effectively showcase and stand out on a piece of paper. I thought this was a very useful session and probably the most informative session of our academies that we have experienced thus far. I have participated in many such writing workshops, but I thought that this was helpful and I always manage to learn something new each and every time. Additionally, it is always a plus to get another person’s perspective on such a topic.
Later we reviewed example personal statements and critically analyzed them as a group. I thought this exercise was extremely subjective because even though some of my peers thought that a piece was poorly written and lacked substance, I found to be concise and to the point. It makes the whole aspect of writing personal statements even more intimidating just because something you write can either be reciprocated well or end in a total disaster.
To cap off this half of the workshop, we did a coloring exercise about our life in three stages: past, present, and future. I really enjoyed this because we got to color and it was a great way to reminisce about our past, evaluate the present, and to envision what we want to have in the future. This was great because sometimes we get so caught up in our lives now that we forget why we wanted to be healthcare professionals in the first place. It was great to reset our sights on what we hoped and dreamed for.
Overall the entire first half of our Saturday academy was very useful and helpful, but the remaining portion was unfortunately a drag. A reoccurring theme about our book presentation is that we always start off strong and engaged, but unfortunately loose gusto and momentum towards the end. You can credit it to tiredness or lapses in our concentration, but in my opinion it is the constant repetition and beating of a certain idea or concept. Our cohort is extremely intelligent and more often than not we answer and prelude to questions that other groups may have. That is to say that by the end of group presentations, the last group feels like they are reiterating points/discussion that we have already had earlier in the day. This makes it a little more difficult to stay engage to their presentation making it unfair for our colleagues. I am not sure how to address such a situation, but I think a more broad expansion of questions and flexibility in the presentations can help stave off such repetitiveness. On a more positive note though, the food was extremely delicious.
During he third Saturday Academy, the cohort attended Jennifer Pacheco (University of Colorado School of Public Health)’s essay workshop. Though most of us, finishing up our tertiary education, think we know 100% about essay writing and how to write an efficient one - everything changes once one decides to write an essay in order to gain admission to a professional school or program. The skill of essay-writing has been taught ever since we have been in elementary school because, in academia, it is crucial to have the ability to write a concise paper that effectively portrays one’s thoughts, opinions, arguments, and analyses. However, I believe most of us have forgotten that creating an essay to be accepted into a program usually requires a different strategy and approach to the essay and the fact that professional schools will have to sort through thousands of applications and these essays can be someone’s only chance to make a positive impression on the admission council. Due the vital importance of the aforementioned factors, learning now how to write a compelling essay is key in our success in the future. Jennifer aided the group in understanding the difference between a hard skill and a soft skill, identifying the goals one should have in mind when writing an admission essay, and what to not do when writing this essay. The cohort also did an exercise called “I remember when” where everyone wrote whatever was on their mind for three minutes without stopping. This was to encourage free thought and to attempt for us to be ready to write whatever may come to mind because some important details our our lives can be withheld in the annals of our brains. Writing out “life maps” further helped solidify the success of Jennifer’s ultimate goal because all of the information needed to write an effective essay was at our disposal; the key events in our lives and how we respond to them often play an enormous role in the process of “making ourselves stand out” during the application process. Finally, the cohort analyzed essays in order to exemplify what makes an essay stand out and what essays would hinder the chance of one being accepted into a professional program. I would consider myself an above proficient writer, but I do still forget some of the key components that really do make some papers stand out more than others. I thanked Jennifer for her time because I was taught again how valuable effective essay writing is in personification, reputability, and professionalism. I feel confident that as the program moves forward, and the more interaction the cohort has with Jennifer, my writing skills will improve and my admissions essay will be near flawless.
The day then closed following the group presentations that answered various questions and multiple topics about the book Medical Apartheid by Harriet Washington M.D. I was extremely impressed by not only the quality of my own group’s presentation, but also by the presentations of everyone else in the cohort. I believe we can all proudly say that we have become even more educated throughout this program and are better equipped to address a larger range of patients in the future. An effective strategy that many groups used was the implementation of various scenarios that challenged the group to think critically and delve into a deeper understanding of the material presented in the book and in the presentations. Ultimately, one the most significant messages I took home from the book and the presentations is the fact that it is critical in acknowledging the fact that injustice has been done to the African-American by the, predominantly white, professionals in the healthcare field for centuries, but wallowing in this fact is detrimental in the progression of black patient-white physician collaborative future. The other would have to be the fact that by experimenting on animals, we are further propagating the fact that another organism’s life is lesser than our own. Unfortunately, there is no real alternative as of yet to experiment on so this will continue for years to come. If we remember the important messages provided to us by this book and our peers, I believe we will all be more culturally aware and more effective healthcare professionals in the future.
On November 10, 2012 I attended my third Saturday Academy with the Undergraduate Pre-Health Program. I was grateful to have started the academy with the presence of Jennifer Pacheco. Jennifer is a member of the Anschutz Medical campus and has had a great deal of experience with examining and teaching students the fundamentals of writing personal statements. I was fortunate to have her provide such a comprehensive exposure to the essence of personal writings. I learned a great deal from listening to her explain what interview committees were looking for in our personal statements and what we should avoid. I was also pleased with her decision to provide us with personal statements that students had previously used to apply to various graduate schools. This was especially useful because after I had read the statements we took the time to criticize and compliment them with the remainder of the cohort. I realized that some of the essays contained flaws that I did not pick up and others contained many beneficial lessons that I did not realize. Discussing the essays with my peers allowed me to learn about what there opinions are on addressing certain topics within personal statements and what they found inappropriate for this type of writing. I was also fortunate that we read the essays because they ignited and allowed me to start brainstorming the path that I am planning on taking to write my personal statement. I understand that it is a rigorous process and that it is salient to start formulating ideas about how to proceed with writing the essay.
The latter portion of Jennifer’s visit was also very educating. I enjoyed the time we spent in preparing a time line of our lives. Ironically, it was an educating task compiling my time-line because there were many experiences that occurred throughout my life that I had not pondered upon until after this assignment. I was able to look back at what benefits I could take from these experiences and most importantly how I can use what I learned from these experiences to make myself a better person and ultimately a better health-care provider. I was also very pleased that my cohort shared their live experiences and took the time to explain how their experiences have benefited them. I learned a great deal from their experiences and it allowed me to truly grasp the notion of never judging a book by its cover.
After the cohort spent time to share the experiences that have shaped them into who they are we shifted gears and started our presentations on the novel “Medical Apartheid”. I was pleased with the presentations and was especially fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to others interpret what they learned from the novel. After our discussions I learned that it is crucial as a future health care provider to educate yourself about the history of health care in order to understand crucial elements such as the disparities and stereotypes with-in the field. Acquiring a deep expertise on these elements will allow to engage with your patients and understand their concerns at a more sophisticated level. It is crucial that a health care provider can relate to all groups of patients and this most start through taking the initiative to educate yourself about them.
Saturday’s Academy was very beneficial and interesting. We had Jennifer Pacheco from admissions committee in University of Colorado School of Public Health and, our groups’ presentation on Medical Apartheids by Herriet Washington. Jennifer did a magnificent job explaining and giving ideas on what to have on essays when applying to graduate school. She had us do free writing for three minutes and draw a life map. The free writing starting with “I remember when” made my thoughts go crazy, I had many ideas to write about and was not able to choose one right away. It took about 30 seconds when I decided to go with the next thing that crossed my mind. Then I started to write on having too many ideas and comments all the time in my head and never really bringing them out in discussions because I cannot manage to stick to one. The rest of the day I set my mind to just go with the first idea, analyze it, and share it.
The life maps were done and I for some reason volunteered my group to share with the cohort. I did not really have many great drawing or impressive stories all I had was my family supporting me and how education will help me care for my community. I realized I have difficulties when it comes to sharing feelings. I shared the moment when I volunteered at the Denver Rescue Mission a couple of weeks back. I expressed how my first visit was very difficult because I was only trying to make a story on their past and what lead them to get where they are now. There was about 300 people getting food and by the end of the day I felt bad and I didn’t get the rewarding feeling for helping others. I went home and thought about what was going on. I came to realize that I was feeling pity for the homeless instead of empathy. I was doing what I had promise never to do to someone. The next week I went back and was very nervous, I didn’t know what my reaction was going to be. People started coming in rushing to get their warm plate of lasagna. One person past, two , four , ten , and 100 of them passed by with their tray of food and I was okay I did not make any story for anyone this time all. Instead I was happy for helping a human being that day without judging or having to know there past.
The groups’ presentations were great and the discussions above standards like always. What my main focus is on here is how many students thought of this actions being okay because at the time it was not viewed as wrong. What I cannot understand is how can something be correct when pain and suffering is producing to others? How can the physicians conduct surgeries or experiments without anesthesia and not minding the pain, the suffering, the screaming slaves imploring them to stop. Even if something like that was allowed today I could not do it. I cannot and will not hurt someone even if it is to ultimately help other.
This past Saturday Academy featured two parts: effective essay writing with Jennifer Pacheco and the discussion of the novel, Medical Apartheid. Although much time of the essay writing was spent drawing personal ‘life maps’ as opposed to talking about writing style, the session was extremely helpful. The primary emphasis of this section was what experiences have contributed to one’s personality and their desire to enter the health career of their choice. In short, this promoted a lot of self-reflection and allowed for me to question my upbringing and why I want to someday become a physician.
However, though first portion of this Saturday was dedicated to personal statements, the most interesting discussions of the day occurred during the presentations of Medical Apartheid. One of the major questions proposed by the presenters revolved around the idea of consent and what is ethical and necessary when asking for an individual’s participation in a research study. Though today we understand that informed consent is the most moral route for using human research subjects, the ethics of the past were different than modern ethics and the two time periods are therefore not analogous. In other words, future techniques may look back on our present practices and think lowly of our treatment of others, just as we view the past conduct as unethical and unjust.
Upon first reading Medical Apartheid, I undoubtedly frowned upon the treatment of African Americans and other minority groups; however, after this Saturday academy and taking into consideration the differences between the ethics now and the ethics during the time of the Medical Apartheid experiments, I began to understand that the nature of the atrocities, like those described in the book, can only be fully realized universally in hindsight and that it is more important to learn from these mistakes than to continue to debate the ethics. Furthermore, these discussions caused me to reflect on what practices I will choose to carry out as a physician, potentially simultaneously doing research, and what my moral and ethical obligations should be.
This Saturday Academy consisted of a personal statement and workshop and book presentations on Medical Apartheid. I found the personal statement workshop particularly helpful. Given that the application process is fastly approaching, it was nice to have some information that is helpful to us now in this process. I really enjoyed making and hearing everyone's life maps. With the main events of my life mapped out in front of me, I got a better idea as to what I want to include in my personal statement and what I want to leave out. In order for me to get started I need an outline, which the life map seemed to do just that. Then we were each given a packet of sample essays that were about various subjects and we were asked to read one and answer certain questions pertainging to the personal statements. It was extremely beneficial to view the mistakes and misunderstandings that stand out as an outside reader. This really taught me the importance of having several people proof-read your personal statement, especially those that do not know you personally. This way you are certain to avoid gramatical and spelling errors. I also really enjoyed the tips that the presentor gave us, such as courtesy for the reader: not being too personal, not too long, keeping the reader interested, knowing what should be omitted, etc. These all provided an excellent guideline for writing my own personal statement. After the personal statement workshop and lunch, we began the book presentations on Medical Apartheid. The book was obviously difficult to read and remerber all of the various cases presented, but ultimately I felt as though everyone got a great understanding of the message the author was trying to portray. Everyone did a fantastic job in the layout and appearance of their presentations, along with the content. The various different focuses that each group was given provided different knowledge and information that was new to the audience due to the presenter's reflection. Overall I really enjoyed the immense amount of knowledge that I walked away with after this Saturday Academy. I am confident in saying that I will certainly apply what I have learned.
Saturday’s Academy was brief introduction to writing techniques and styles that are often used when applying to professional health programs (i.e. School of Dental Medicine and school of Medicine). Jennifer Pacheco from the admissions committee of the Colorado School of Public Health was the presenter in this week’s Saturday Academy and came to discuss ideas and writing methods when applying to professional programs. An activity that was used to emphasize these personal statements was utilizing an illustrated “life-map” that distinguishes the individual from another applicant. What I learned through these presentations was that everyone has a different “purpose” that defines who they are and what they hope to achieve in their lifetime. Different perspectives were based off life events that occurred in each individual’s life and seeing these different maps allowed for a much more broad perspective of the events that affect people’s lives. As I was making my map, I realized how unique I was myself and discussing my story with other cohort members was gratifying knowing that they had both opposing and supporting statements on certain aspects in the healthcare field. Ms. Pacheco emphasized that formulating a personal statement is very difficult and requires time and a lot of analysis. Although everyone has different stories, an individual must recognize an experience in their life that really stands out and what they must be able to interpret what they gained from it. How an applicant can interpret an event that happened in their life is something very crucial in the writing process. I realize that there are a lot of events that defined who I was; however I realize that some of these events are more important than others due to their relationship of how I see other individuals and how I believe others should be treated. The second part of the day was spent on presentations about Medical Apartheid. The presentations all involved in depth analysis of how African-Americans were mistreated in early medical years and the tragic stories of experimentation that was occurring here in the United States. These presentations all shadowed a theme that continues even today, and that is the awareness of mistreatment in medicine. Whether the physician is oblivious to the matter or not, I believe it is important for individuals to be aware of historical context that may have affected a certain demographic whether it be from medical experimentation or any other mistreatment. The discussion of medical experimentation brought up other topics that were not nearly as discussed as I had thought, at one point the discussion of bio ethics was presented and it was interesting to hear other’s opinions on the subject matter. I myself have never token a bio ethics class, however the discussion that revolved around certain moral theories made me interested to see how morality plays an effective role in the certain treatment that is provided by certain health care providers.
I thought that the November Saturday Academy was very interesting and had some very important/helpful aspects. The Saturday academy was broken up into the following three sections: life maps, the personal statement workshop, and the presentations on Medical Apartheid. The first portion of the day was devoted to each of us developing and sharing life maps that helped explain some of the past experiences that lead to each of us becoming who we are. I initially thought that this particular exercise was going to be relatively boring but I found it to actually be very interesting and useful in its own rights. I thought that the life map helped me personally by making me reflect on all of the experiences and aspects of my life that has led to me getting to this point. I initially thought that this exercise was going to be very trivial but I have found that making a life map has given me decent ideas on what I can include on my different admission essays for when I apply to professional school. Making a life map made me remember and talk about the crucial things that helped shape me as a person but were pushed to the back of my mind. I now have more things that I can mention in the coming essays I will be writing. The life maps also helped me learn more about everyone in my cohort. It was really interesting to see what helped shape all of the successful people in my cohort. I have a better understanding and respect for everyone in my cohort because of what they were willing to share with everyone.
The second part of the November Saturday academy was dedicated to a workshop to help everyone write personal statements. Of the three portions of the academy, I felt that this was the most helpful for me. Writing a personal statement and other admission essays has made me nervous ever since I started at UCD. The personal statement is my one opportunity to really set myself apart from other applicants. The personal statement is a major factor in what determines whether an applicant gets an interview. As a result, I am slightly intimidated with writing a personal statement. I was really happy to hear that there was going to be a personal statement workshop because I knew it would be helpful for me. The instructor started by having us do a quick three minute free-write about any topic. I didn’t understand why we were doing this exercise until after the three minutes passed. In that three minutes I was able to write something meaningful enough to base an entire essay around it. I never heard of this approach to essay writing but I found it to be very helpful. The next part of workshop was about each of us reading sample essays and determining if they were good enough for an interview. This was another very interesting section because it forced me to really analyze other essays and be critical about what to include and what to avoid in my own personal statement. In addition, all of the students will be writing a rough draft of their personal statements and bringing them to the January Saturday academy. I am really glad we are doing this because it will allow ample time for revisions and edits which can lead to a very good personal statement in the end.
The third portion of the Saturday Academy was spent on group presentations on Medical Apartheid. I do have to admit that this section was particularly long and somewhat dry. Luckily, there wasn’t too much repetition since each group had different evaluation questions. I think that there was a lot of interesting discussion topics that were brought up. One interesting topic that I found interesting was about if it would be unethical for a surgeon to perform an involuntary procedure on a slave if the procedure was successful and lead to helping many other people. I thought this was a very interesting discussion topic because it forced everyone to make a judgment call on whether involuntary experimentation is justified if it is successful and helps a lot of people. My personal view was that it was still unethical because it implements a hierarchical structure which put the value of a slave’s life below another human. In terms of being successful, I didn’t think that this made any real difference because the success of some procedures are based on chance which eliminates this as a real factor. I was always interested to hear what my peers thought even if their ideas didn’t align with my own.
Today we discussed personal statements, made life maps, and did our Medical Apartheid presentations. I really enjoyed working on personal statements because they are something I have been trying to put off for as long as possible because they are so intimidating and I have no idea where to start. But having so many examples and a PowerPoint presentation and key points, it has made the process less frightening. There are so many things now that I know not to put in my statement that I probably would have if I did not have this workshop. The examples we have are also great because I am always afraid of asking others to see their personal statements in fear that they think I might take some parts of theirs.
The life maps were so much fun because I realized the most important things in my life and why I want to go into the health profession and where my life is going. I never really thought much of my past and how it has contributed to the person I am today and how today shapes who I will become. It made me even more excited for the future. It was also very creative, something we should do more of in Saturday Academies that will make the day go by faster.
The Medical Apartheid presentations were very good. I always love seeing all of the perspectives of the books we read. Each group always has something to add that I never thought of before. I was also proud of all the groups for finding such interesting topics to talk about from such a dry book.