Katherine E. Bright Submitted 2015-12-14

Preparation and Determination

As Charles Bukowski said, “You begin saving the world by saving one person at a time.” I entered the fall semester of my freshman year as a nursing major. I knew from a young age that I wanted to save the world but how can one human save the world? I chose at the age of three to make my mark in the healthcare world. I dedicated my youth to helping care for an elderly, terminal relative. I chose nursing as my designated field when I was fifteen, however, after one class period in the nursing program I knew it was not the field for me. I then began to research different fields and talked to multiple students and professors. With the help of an older student, Makenzie, I discovered the physician’s assistant program. I interviewed the woman over the graduates program at the University of Charleston and I knew in that moment, this was the career path that fit me best. I switched my major, met my new adviser and prepared my plan for the next four years.

One of the questions I was asked before my adviser would sign the green slip which would officially make me a pre-professional Biology major was “Can you mentally handle the stress that the health care demands?” My voice range with confidence when I said, “Yes.” As a physician’s assistant, I will lose patients whom may be elderly, children or dying of an illness that I cannot stop. I will see the death of teens who have yet to discover who they are, in ways that would knock the breath out of any person with the slightest bit of compassion. I will watch young children becomes orphans. I will watch parents walk out of the health care setting without their children. I will see grown adults cry when their relative of any age group has passed. However, I will save more lives than I lose. I will treat those with colds, broken bones or other small ailments. I will save the life of someone who would otherwise be lost without my knowledge of how to treat the illness. I have prepared myself mentally for the grueling task of saving lives by accepting that I will not always save the patient but I will promise each patient the best care I can provide. I will never walk away from the case without knowing that I gave that person the best chance of survival. When a person begins to code, there are signs and warnings: the drop in the heart rate, respiratory rate and even the energy of the patient if they are conscious. Always remember the ABCs of life support: airway, breathing and circulation. The trick to saving the life of the patient is to understand those signs and to prepare yourself mentally and physically.

Once the patient begins to code, if you are in the room the first instinct should be to hit the appropriate code button to alert the nurses and the physician that the patient is coding and needs lifesaving care. The second instinct should be to clear the airway for proper intubation. Then, you should begin to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation. You might need to give a shot of adrenaline to a heart if the patient’s heart does stop beating. If need be you may have to use the defibrillator to shock the heart back into normal rhythm, depending on the circumstance. Despite popular belief, it is not as easy as shown on television to intubate a person who is or is not unconscious. Also, despite televisions depiction, despite your best efforts you will not always be able to save the patient. A large part of the actions of saving someone’s life includes an adrenaline rush which puts the physician into a fight or flight mode. I believe it is important for this to happen but it is also important to know how to control this flood of adrenaline. The adrenaline for someone could either awaken them which allows them to perform their job better or it could have the opposite effect.

I believe that the physical and emotional toll it takes on a person to save another human beings life is a price that is heavy on any heart but a price that must be paid. It takes a special kind of human being to have enough compassion to save a life yet enough determination to do what needs to be done in order to save the patient. Many would refer to me as a “bleeding heart.” I have so much compassion and empathy which many thought would impair my ability to perform the task which need to be done to be an effective healthcare provider. However, my compassion has given me enough drive to want to save every life that I come in contacts with but also allows me to understand that not every life can be saved. I believe that the healthcare system is eighty percent mental and emotional abilities and twenty percent talent and luck.

I have prepared myself for the losses and I have prepared myself for the wins. I understand the price I will pay to better the community and the world, one step at a time. I am willing to carry the burden of each loss to better myself so there will be more wins. I want to redefine the face of medicine. I want to lead a generation of healthcare providers into the future where more children, parents and relatives go home with their families versus a body bag.

Thank you for taking time to read this essay which I hope will convince another student who may be struggling to find their right field in medicine or who just needs to know that another student feels the same way. I would love to win the scholarship that is associated with this essay but if I do not and this is shared amongst the other future or present students and they find comfort in these words, it is not written in vain. Thank you for the consideration and the honor of writing this essay.