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Residency in Ophthalmology, Russian Doctor, PHD

I was raised in a small town in Russia, but my education took me away to the big city from the age of 15 forward to work and study. I studied hard and eventually became a practicing ophthalmologist almost entirely on my own initiative. For years, I was a teenager alone in Moscow, independent, self-supporting, and studying with all of the energy that I had.

 My decision to enter medicine was a coalescence of several driving forces, such as my admiration and respect for the noble work of doctors and my appreciation of the vast ocean of knowledge in the area of advances in medicine: the ability to cure disease has always been my initial fascination. As a child, living through the illnesses of my grandparents, I wanted to be able to do something to help them. Later on, as a medical student, my interest in surgery would take flight when my grandfather needed vitreoretinal surgery in the hospital due to his diabetic retinopathy. I went with him and supported him and even made connections: my grandfather’s ophthalmologist would later introduce me to professor XXXX at Moscow’s Institute of Eye Disease, and he went on to become a significant mentor, introducing me to primary texts and guiding the continuing complexity of my reading. I attended clinics with him, watched him in the operating room, and quickly felt at home with the procedures and his scientific method.

 As I entered my third year of medical studies, I knew I wanted to find a specialty that would allow me to work very directly with patients. I tried to master a field that would facilitate my in-depth exploration of new technologies. I became a member of the Students Ophthalmology Society, and this led to my making a presentation at a regional conference and helped to illustrate many of the opportunities presented by careers in Ophthalmology. My fourth-year Ophthalmology rotation confirmed my commitment to this extraordinary window of the medicine. I chose Ophthalmology because of its intimate relationships with internal medicine, rheumatology, endocrinology, neurology, surgery, pediatrics, and genetics. While small, the visual system is highly complex, with a vast spectrum of disease processes and abnormalities.

I earned the Ph.D. in Ophthalmology in Russia, in addition to the M.D., primarily because I hope to stay engaged on some level with research opportunities throughout my career. Frankly, I long for the exciting days of my residency at the Moscow Eye Disease Institute, doing extensive research into proliferative diseases of the eye, such as PDR, ROP, and post-traumatic retinopathy. In particular, we were looking for the initial (crucial) pathomechanism of all these proliferative diseases. I also studied the effects of various rates of oxygen administration on the cell proliferative activity of retinal cells.

 During my international internship in Germany at the Eye Clinic of XXXX University, I had a rotation in general ophthalmology under  Professor XXXX and another in the Vitreoretinal Department with  Professor XXXX. Everything I learned -- from optics and anterior segment to glaucoma, plastics, retina, and neuro-ophthalmology -- fascinated me. I experienced the day-to-day activities of an ophthalmologist in a prominent academic center for two years. It was here, in particular, where I became a fully accredited eye doctor.

 I have not worked as a medical doctor since I finished my internship in Germany with the Eye Clinic of Cologne University three years ago. For the last several years, I have made my home in Brooklyn after marrying an American man; I have a wonderful family and now feel very strongly that it is time for me to fully return to my professional aspirations in America after having distinguished myself professionally in Russia, Iceland, and Germany and now have my family affairs arranged in such a way to be able to give my all to my professional position.

I have made solid progress with my USMLE; while I have not attained scores as high as I would have liked, this clearly has much to do with the fact that my education was in Russian, and my latest position as a medical doctor was in German. I have made an enormous stride in my English ability, however, and now feel that I am qualified for a residency position. Being very friendly is one of my significant assets, and I am a highly self-motivated person with a great passion for my work. I hope to be interviewed for your outstanding program.

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