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Residency Ophthalmology, Middle East

I am a doctor from Iraq who was a mere toddler at the time of the Gulf War; I remember distinctly peering through my living room window at the street crowded with tanks and marching soldiers. A storm of light slashed across the night sky’s shock waves from distant explosions shattered a deceptive silence, causing the water in a glass to quiver. The Gulf War, my earliest memory, began a long history of relocation and travel – a lifestyle that necessitated patience, constant acclimation, and emotional understanding. These are all character traits required of the ophthalmologist I intend to become. I feel privileged to have been able to visit and reside in many different parts of the world, including the Middle East, Australia, Another Middle East Country, North American countries, and the United States.

Fortunately, my parents were able to leave Iraq, and I was able to finish growing up in various cultures. As a child, I viewed each move as an adventure, one that positively influenced my personality. Because I could adapt to different cultures and people, I formed friendships quickly and easily and developed a keen understanding of diverse viewpoints. I learned to embrace the notion of always maintaining an open mind. As a future ophthalmologist, I hope that this quality, along with the other character traits I have acquired during my journey, will contribute to my ability to be a well-rounded team player, thrive under pressure, and, most important, benefit my patients through solid relationships.

 My role as a prosector during my first and second year of medical school first sparked my interest in ophthalmology and the eye. My curiosity and the natural complexity of the head and neck led me to study for days before my initial scalpel incision. I became acutely aware of the unique relationship between the eye and its surrounding structures, which allows it almost to float, yet become altered by slight contractions of muscle fibers. As an individual who enjoys hands-on, technically detailed work on performance cars, it was no surprise that dissecting the orbital structures brought on a feeling of excitement and fulfillment. My passionate pursuit of ophthalmology began then, and the yearning to learn more carried through to my clinical years.

During my internal medicine rotation, I elected to spend as much time as possible in the ICU to improve my ability to distill and understand complicated cases involving many disease processes. I took a keen interest in observing the ocular manifestations that often accompanied the systemic diseases in these cases. As a result of my evolving interest, I secured a three-month rotation with research opportunities at US State Eye and Ear Infirmary. With each area I covered – including clinic, emergency ward, and surgery – I became more and more convinced that ophthalmology was the right specialty for me.

While in the clinic, I was finally able to work with the instruments that I had read so much about in various texts. In my efforts to master the slit-lamp, I quickly picked up presentations with anterior chamber inflammation, foreign bodies, and varying types of ulcerations. I realized that it is the physical exam that directs the ophthalmologist’s diagnosis, rather than ancillary testing. While examining corneas, I came across multiple presentations of Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy, which increased my eagerness to begin my intended research on this disease. In the upcoming months, I will investigate the relationship between oxidative stress and aberrant extracellular matrix deposition by exposing the endothelial cells to pro-oxidants. I intend to draw upon my research background, which I developed at Large State University, to gain further insights into the pathogenesis of the disease, and ultimately I hope the research will benefit patients.

I am a doctor initially from Iraq. As a toddler, I saw the streets filled with soldiers and tanks during the Gulf War. Fortunately, my parents were able to get us out of Iraq and to have the privilege to live in various countries and cultures. In my current position at XXXX University Hospital in XXXX, I spend my free time in the emergency ward, occasionally working independently and aiding busy residents with the continuous influx of patients. My sense of belonging grew, making me even more eager to embrace the field of ophthalmology. A 7-year-old girl who presented with questionable globe rupture translated into a surgery case that was also handled by the ophthalmology team. Fortunately, she was fine and can now have a normal childhood, an outcome in which we played a significant role. Continued patient care within the field translates into better outcomes for our patients and is also part of my attraction to ophthalmology. It is incredibly fulfilling to be on hand to witness the return of a patient’s sight. One of them said, “I can see cars.” Another rejoiced, “I can finally see my husband.” Surgery was equally enthralling for me, especially microsurgery. My confidence in working with instruments and alien technology will help me acquire this facility quickly. I believe this stems from working in tight areas inside engine bays and finding ever more effective and efficient ways to manipulate tools with patience, finesse, and skill.

This experience afforded me insight into what ophthalmology has to offer and prepared me to pursue a residency program in the field. Now I am looking to work with a group of talented and diverse ophthalmologists and residents who care and have compassion for their patients. I want to expand my skills and take advantage of the resources available at my institution, including research and academics. Furthermore, I am excited about the opportunity to broaden my exposure to the gamut of pathologies affecting the eye. I am looking forward to being in a program that can provide that goal. Also, as a senior resident, I would like to be able to use the skills I have gained as a tutor and student leader during medical school to teach and help junior residents, and to share the knowledge that I have gained. With my diverse background and commitment to patients and ophthalmology, I will bring an enthusiasm and unwavering curiosity to learn and be trained. My flexible, patient, and open-minded personality will help me contribute to the care of our patients. I am confident that I will be an asset to my program

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