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In May 2009, I experienced something that impacted me greatly, and changed my life permanently. I had signed up for a medical mission trip that would take me deep into the wilderness of Guatemala, into a small farming community called Magdalena. What I thought would just be a fun trip, ended up positively affecting me in such a way that I knew I wanted to become a Physician Assistant. After traveling for about 12 hours, I found myself dropped in an area surrounded by mountains and with a limited water supply, where only Spanish and some Guatemalan tribal languages were spoken.

One of the clinics I worked in had the size comparable to a typical studio apartment in the States. After admitting patients and taking their vitals, I would lead them to the exam room; a closet large enough for an examination table, tight shelving for medicines, medical supplies and a couple chairs. The nurse would allow me along with my teammates to listen to lung sounds on infants, fill medications from the small supply, and clean wounds and apply bandages. I found out that most of the cases I assisted with could have been prevented with simple hygiene practices or proper nutrition; something so many Americans take for granted.

One particular case that affected me greatly involved a middle aged man who was employed as a furniture maker. He came in one with a wrapped hand and a grimace on his face. His hand was oozing and obviously very painful. Due to my willingness to help and my advanced knowledge of the Spanish language, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to help this man. I unwrapped his hand and found several fingers partially missing, then gently started cleaning his wounds. I talked with him as I worked and he told me what had happened. While working, his hand had been caught in a machine, and part of it had been ripped off. After a few days, it became infected due to no medical attention and poor hygiene. An injury such as this would have required surgery in the States. Surgery was not an option for this man, as the closest hospital was at least an hour away by car, and there was no way he would have been able to afford it. He left with some antibiotics and a promise to return to the clinic for a follow-up exam. Though his hand would never be the same, I know the work I did that day helped that man well enough so that he could recover, return to work, and in turn, provide for his family. I enjoyed knowing that what I did that day would definitely help him in the future.

It’s not just my educational qualifications that make me perfect for the Physician Assistant program. I know that my compassion and empathy I have for people, as well as my passion for the healthcare field genuinely will form me into a well-rounded Physician Assistant. By earning a position as a Physician Assistant, I can achieve my goal to work in the healthcare field, as well as fulfill my desire to help people. When I can help make others well and happy, I feel happy and fulfilled with my work. Some day I will go back to Guatemala, not as a student, but at as a Physician Assistant and I will treat the Guatemalan people once again.

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