Sunday, February 18, 2018

2017-18 AAEM/RSA Medical Student Scholarship Winners Share Why They Are Choosing EM

Author: Tamathor Abughnaim
University of Illinois College of Medicine

RSA is proud to share the following essay from one of the 2017-2018 Medical Student Scholarship winners, Tamathor Abughnaim. We felt this essay best exemplified why she is choosing EM as a specialty. Congratulations, Tamathor!

For years I have harbored a secret ambition: to become an astronaut. When I told an attending about this ambition, he did not understand why I was in medical school and interested in emergency medicine. To me the connection was obvious - I love exploring the unknown. The challenge of not knowing everything, of having to piece together a story without all the information excites and motivates me. I am not interested in space or emergency medicine strictly for their textbook scientific components, but rather for their broader implications for humanity. My passion for emergency medicine stems from an appreciation of the dichotomies it must embrace: individual care with community focus and independent critical thinking with a team approach. My family, like many low-income families in Chicago, used the Emergency Department when we were out of options and out of time. By the time I was a teen, I understood that the ED represented more than just medical care and as a result, I became drawn to social justice and healthcare. I spent two summers with an NGO in Peru and discovered that their unique challenges were being addressed by a cross-section of the whole community. Every chief complaint in the ED is just scratching the surface of the patient's needs, and I enjoy the balance of addressing the individual problems while reading between the lines to unveil the needs of the community. The emergency physician is the leader of a patient's team. I revel in the sense of camaraderie and shared purpose that permeates the ED. When I taught cardiac emergency response to EMT students and it was important to me that students left with a sense of the importance of their contribution to emergency care. I emphasized that although we work as a team it is equally important to maintain independent critical thinking. It is a difficult balance to maintain, and I am always striving to improve my leadership and teamwork. I may never get past the stratosphere, but I believe I have found my place here on Earth amongst the dichotomies and unknowns that permeate emergency medicine. As I continue to aim high, I hope to remain grounded in the humanitarian principles that brought me to medicine in the first place: that patients tell us more than their diagnosis and that progress relies on the dedication of those willing to work together to achieve it.

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