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February 19, 2024


Sample Essay: Unveiling the Essence of Writing a Winning College Essay

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Embarking on the journey of college applications is akin to painting a self-portrait where every brushstroke represents a fragment of your life's canvas. This series delves into the artistry behind crafting essays that resonate - the why. These essays have not only succeeded but have done so by telling a story that is deeply personal and profoundly human. Through the lens of winning essays, we aim to unravel the intricacies and strategies that transform ordinary narratives into gateways of opportunity. Each essay in our series is a testament to the power of authentic expression, serving as a beacon for aspiring applicants. Join us as we explore these exemplary narratives, dissecting the elements that elevate them from mere submissions to reflections of individuality and purpose.

Essay by Joseph Lee for Giva scholarship at Rush Medical College

Essay Prompt: Who is (or what makes) a good doctor?

Essay: Had you asked me the same question one year ago, my answer would have vastly differed from the one I will give today. In the summer of 2012, with my first year of medical school completed, I embarked upon my last official summer vacation with two things in mind: a basketball tournament in Dallas and one in Atlanta. My closest friends and I had been playing in tournaments for the past ten summers, and it was a sacred bond forged together in the name of competition. However, two weeks before our first tournament, I became instantly and overwhelmingly short of breath. Having been born to Korean immigrant parents, they taught me to utilize the hospital in emergency cases only, and I knew this was such a case. A few scans later, doctors discovered numerous pulmonary emboli (PE) caused by a subclavian deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and just like that, I was lying in a bed at a major hospital for a life-threatening condition.

Fast forward a few months, and I am lying in a similar bed to treat the underlying cause of the subclavian DVT: a first rib removal. There is little that can adequately prepare someone physically, emotionally, or spiritually to undergo surgery, and my thoughts continued to race in the days following. In addition to the expected physical pain, isolation, fear, and frustration were a few of the emotions I experienced in the four-day ordeal. The procedure went according to plan, thanks to a skilled surgeon and his team, but the attributes that made the doctor “good” went far beyond his ability to operate.

“Wow. I’m glad you are feeling better,” and “I can’t believe you went through that” are common reactions people have when they see the scars on my upper chest. The past nine months have been complicated and full of blood, sweat, and tears. But through it all, I have maintained my positivity and gratitude, knowing that I have gained the invaluable experience of being a patient and discovering the vulnerability and trust patients give their doctors. Patients divulge information to doctors that they may have never told anyone in their life, and in doing so, place a great deal of trust and responsibility in the hands of a doctor. Many patients will not understand the mechanism of disease behind their condition and anticipate that the doctor will explain to them and their family why it is that they are feeling the way they are and ultimately heal them. And that is precisely what my surgeon understood: the privilege of caring for patients and the intimacy of the doctor-patient relationship. As I awoke to the care of my worried parents, the first thing they wanted to discuss was the details of the procedure that was methodically and patiently explained to them by my “good” doctor.

In study after study, patients have reported dissatisfaction with their medical care, not because of lack of knowledge or health outcome, but because their doctors did not show enough warmth in the encounter or listen to the patient’s questions and concerns. There are few times when a patient and their loved ones are more vulnerable and need compassion than when dealing with a hospitalization. For some doctors, a patient may be another item on a checklist, but that patient is someone’s mother or father, son or daughter, sister or brother. My “good” doctor understood this and would often say, “If you were my son…” when discussing treatment options, reflecting on the type of care he would want for his family and treating me similarly. Such ideals are rooted in love and compassion for patients, not as clients in the health care system but as fellow human beings striving to make something of themselves and the world around them (I).

Unfortunately, the ordeal of living with a chronic illness or undergoing a major operation extends beyond the confines of the hospital. Whether creditors harassing patients for medical bills, prescriptions needing refills, or required lifestyle modifications, the healthcare experience doesn’t end when a patient walks out of the hospital doors. It often takes merely a minute, as in the case of the “good” doctor who told me that, as a student, I could apply to get the procedure financially covered by the hospital. Such foresight in anticipating financial concerns and directing me on the following steps relieved the surmounting stress.

Lastly, the “good” doctor understands that as our patients are human, so are we. Being human means making mistakes, some of which can result in life-threatening consequences. With that said, the “good” doctor practices humility and honesty, apologizing and sharing as much information with patients as possible. Although no one strives to make mistakes, they will happen, and how one reacts to them is a distinguishing feature of the “good” doctor.

Of all the qualities I tried to explain in what makes a “good” doctor, there was no emphasis on skill and knowledge. While being able to make the correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment plans is expected, the intangibles of love, compassion, foresight, and honesty make a doctor “good.” I learned such lessons in the purest manner possible by being a patient myself, and I will use them to guide me in all future patient encounters as I strive to be a “good” doctor.

What makes this essay successful?

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This essay provides a profound and introspective reflection on what constitutes a "good" doctor, highlighted by the author's journey from patient to medical student. Here are the key strengths that contribute to its success:

  • Personal Experience as a Patient: The foundation of the essay is the author's harrowing experience with a severe medical condition, which offers a unique and deeply personal perspective on the healthcare system. This firsthand account of vulnerability, fear, and reliance on medical professionals allows the reader to understand the profound impact a doctor can have on a patient's life. The personal narrative is compelling and establishes the credibility of the author's insights.
  • Emphasis on Empathy and Compassion: A significant strength of the essay is its focus on the emotional and empathetic qualities of a "good" doctor. By recounting interactions that went beyond technical skill and included warmth, understanding, and reassurance, the essay highlights the critical role of empathy in patient care. The message aligns with the broader knowledge that healing is not solely about physical treatment but also involves addressing patients' emotional and psychological needs.
  • Understanding the Doctor-Patient Relationship: The essay explores the sacred trust and intimacy inherent in the relationship. It emphasizes the importance of doctors acknowledging patients' vulnerability and treating them with dignity and respect. This perspective sheds light on the relational aspect of healthcare, which is crucial for effective treatment and patient satisfaction.
  • Recognition of the Holistic Nature of Healthcare: The author reflects on the importance of considering the patient's overall well-being, including financial and emotional concerns. By sharing an example of a doctor who provided financial guidance, the essay acknowledges the multifaceted challenges patients face and the role of doctors in addressing these challenges beyond the clinical setting.
  • Humility and Accountability: Another critical aspect of the essay is its focus on the humility and honesty that define a "good" doctor. Acknowledging mistakes and maintaining transparency with patients are highlighted as essential qualities. This recognition of fallibility and the commitment to openness contribute to the trust and credibility necessary for adequate healthcare.

The essay effectively argues that while technical skill and knowledge are necessary, the qualities defining a "good" doctor include empathy, compassion, understanding, humility, and a holistic approach to patient care. The author's insights, derived from their own experiences as patients, provide a compelling argument for valuing the human elements of medicine as much as the scientific ones. This narrative illuminates the attributes of a "good" doctor. It serves as a guide for the author's future medical career, emphasizing the impact of personal experiences on professional development and patient care philosophy.

Empowering Your Journey with GoodGoblin

As we dissect the components that contribute to a successful essay, it's evident that the journey of crafting such a narrative is both personal and complex. However, there are others on this path. GoodGoblin is a pioneering ally, offering personalized guidance and innovative tools to illuminate your college application journey. Our platform harnesses the latest AI technology to provide real-time, tailored feedback on your essays, ensuring your unique voice resonates with clarity and impact.

GoodGoblin's AI-driven insights draw from a rich tapestry of successful applications, offering you a compass as you navigate the intricate college admissions process. From generating essay outlines to refining drafts with granular feedback, GoodGoblin is designed to elevate your narrative, ensuring that your application speaks to who you are and the potential you bring to your dream colleges.

In the spirit of the essays we've explored, your story deserves to be told with authenticity and elegance. Let GoodGoblin be your guide, empowering you to craft narratives that are not just successful but genuinely your own. Discover how our platform can transform your college application experience by visiting us at Let's turn the page to the next chapter of your academic journey, where your voice is heard, and your dreams are within reach.