Residency Surgery, Breast Cancer, Saudi

I am a 32-year-old man from Saudi Arabia now living in New Jersey. I come from a large family and have five siblings who are all successful and all in very different fields. Our parents were a major source of our successes and they were particularly ambitious for me as I was regarded as the brightest in the family.  It was my father’s hope that I should become a physician and, although I wanted to make my own decisions in life, I eventually embraced this hope myself and decided to determinedly devote myself to achieving this ambition. Unfortunately my father died before I gained entry to the medical school and this is still a source of great sadness to me.

My father ran a successful business and involved me in his business from the age of 13. I was eventually given responsibility for supervising workers of various nationalities at an early age. I would take my books to the workplace to study when the opportunity arose. This background was a character-building experience and provided me with some very useful skills such as effective planning, supervising, and getting along with people from various cultural backgrounds. I was involved in the business until starting my residency program. The skills and experience I gained in this way has been of enormous benefit to me in my career to date.

I began my medical education under some disadvantages compared to many of my classmates. Unlike the some of the class, I had been educated in Arabic but was now receiving instruction exclusively in English.  I was also the first in my family to study medicine and so did not have the comfort of experienced practitioners able to help me with my studies.  I overcame these disadvantages through putting in very long hours and applying a very determined approach to my work.  

After graduation from medical school I was determined to be a general surgeon. I saw this work as requiring the characteristics and skills that I knew that I possessed; the ability to deal with stressful and demanding situations, to think quickly and decisively and to provide good team leadership.  The potential to directly improve and to save lives in the operating theatre appeals to me enormously.

I joined a 5 year residency program in Riyadh Military Hospital. The hospital is the largest in the country having 1,500 beds. This was a first class environment to gain substantial experience in a short time. I was very successful professionally during my time there and formed some deep friendships.  I was the best resident in 2007 with the highest marks in many oral and written examinations. I completed the MRCS ENG (three parts) before I had finished my third year. I was also one of only seven people of ninety one who passed the clinical exam on the first attempt; and in the final Saudi board written exam I was awarded the highest mark in the country.

During my residency I enjoyed good relationships with all my colleagues. Several asked for me to be included with them on the work rotations and several invited me to choose their specialty so that we would work together in the future. As a senior resident, I was also elected to represent all resident staff.

I loved the whole sub-specialty of general surgery but was keen to help the largest number of patients especially in an area where there was a shortage of expertise. I chose surgical oncology, focusing on breast oncology as this fitted these criteria and as breast cancer is increasing in Saudi Arabia. I also identified other problems that confirmed me in this choice.  Breast cancer is the commonest cause of death among Saudi women after MVA and the incidence is increasing. This is because there is no screening program in my country resulting in late discovery and, because of the shortage of specialists, subsequent management is provided by non-specialist general surgeons. These factors obviously contribute to a low survival rate and quality of life for patients and I very much hope to be involved in improving this situation.

I am absolutely determined to be among the very best surgeons in my country in managing breast disease , and to acquire and maintain the most current knowledge and skills in my  chosen field and thus provide the best to my patients.  I am also very keen to be involved in research in my specialty and thus to make a significant contribution to the academic community and the health of women generally.

It has been difficult  to go ‘back to basics’ to pass the USMLE but I obtained a very high score in Step 1 at 99 and await Step 2 results but am confident that I shall again achieve a similar result. I hope that this will provide you with a further indication of my determination and my capacity for hard work in support of this application.

I am confident that the fellowship program that you offer will enable me to achieve my goals and that I shall make a valuable and significant contribution to your academic community. Thank you for considering my application for the program.

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