Admissions Essay - Providing Medical Assistance to the Homeless
For me, the journey from child to medical school applicant has not been typical. It began on the damp side of a Washington bridge, where I lived when I was fourteen years old. What sparked my interest in medicine was the role I came to play among the homeless with whom I lived. It soon became apparent that I had certain knowledge that my peers lacked: Knowledge of the nature of infection and basic principles of hygiene. When Pat, a middle-aged transient with matted hair and a solemn disposition, arrived at the bridge one day, he could barely walk without assistance. Complaining that his feet hurt terribly, I removed his shoes. His socks had almost completely adhered to the skin of his feet, due to a long period of wear in his damp, poorly ventilated shoes. After a long, painful process of peeling off his socks, I immediately saw what was affecting Pat’s gait: his feet were pale and severely swollen, with spots of breakdown due to lack of circulation. He simply didn’t realize his feet needed ventilation. For almost two weeks, I convinced him to stay under the bridge with his shoes off and rest. At least three times a day, I returned with not only food, but also dry rags and disinfecting towelettes, and to gently rub his feet to stimulate circulation. The decubitus eventually scabbed and healed, and he was soon able to walk without such pain.
After this experience, I gained a reputation among my peers as a caring and relatively knowledgeable person. Individuals within my circle of acquaintances, especially other girls of my age, began to seek me out for information about their basic health concerns. With a steady supply of towellettes and dry pieces of cloth, I was able to help prevent infection in a number of superficial wounds. Realizing I had neither the skill nor the supplies to treat any more serious health problems, I more often convinced friends to seek help, walking them to the hospital if necessary. The most poignant of these experiences was the hour I held the hand of Star, a timid young blonde girl, in the emergency room as she was examined following a violent rape.
These and many other experiences I had in the two years I spent homeless eventually inspired me to seek other ways of...