The Move to Medicine

"Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced."

It was 2:00 AM local time in a continent where I had never been. There were 18 of us rumbling down a poorly paved road, in an old bus that could not have been meant for more than 15. The seats were uncomfortable, and a horribly made music video of an African version of west coast rap was playing through crackly speakers. I looked out to see military men holding AK-47s, deciding if they were going to let us through a checkpoint. We weren’t in California anymore. We were a team of doctors, nurses, volunteers, and a dentist, on a medical mission to Cameroon.

The group was headed to Nkar, a town in the northwest part of Cameroon, to set up a week-long free medical clinic. Immediately, I moved from tasks such as fitting glasses to organizing triage and realized this was not going to be a purely observational experience. I took one boy, whom, like me, was probably 17 years old to the dentist’s chair. He was nervous about getting his tooth pulled, so I used the international language of soccer to calm him down. We both played defense and agreed that the position was often under-appreciated. I then readied the needle for his anesthesia, and told him about my favorite soccer game as his tooth was extracted. It was then placed in my hand...

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