The advice that was given to me about writing my personal statement is that whatever I wrote, it must be a statement that came directly from the heart. I’ve found that in order to do this, I must actually write about my heart. When I was born, doctors discovered that I had a ventricular septal defect. The defect needed to be repaired, or I would have been wheelchair-bound and not lived past my fifth birthday. The experience of my heart surgery was not only life-altering for me, but for my parents as well. I was their first-born child, and they had just purchased their first home.
It is hard enough to learn the ropes of becoming a parent – but to be the parents to a very ill child was something they had never prepared for. They always taught me to be thankful for the kindness and guidance of my pediatrician and cardiologist, who were vital in getting them through this difficult time in our lives. These physicians followed my heart health throughout my life – they were present for every echocardiogram, heart murmur, and even any question that my parents had for them up until I turned eighteen.
The kindness of these professionals inspired me to want to someday pay it forward and to become a cardiologist. The more I became immersed in the pre-med track in college, the more I began to realize that I was not passionate about the science behind the medicine. The idea of helping those experiencing illness was still enticing to me, but I also knew that I wanted to be a lawyer. I didn’t feel that I could adequately repay what had been done for me if I was a lawyer, and I expressed that to my mother.
She responded that if weren’t for lawyers, the surgeons would not have been able to save my life. I thought that I had known the full story behind my heart operation, but at nineteen years old, my mom told me a much different side to the story. The health insurance company at the last second decided not to cover the heart surgery. The cost of the surgery was seventy-five thousand dollars, and as middleclass people who had just spent their entire savings on a house, there was no way they could afford the surgery.
They not only had to worry if I would be healthy post-operation but also now had a battle to fight with the insurance company. To our luck, a lawyer stepped in and took on the case pro-bono, and he was able to get the procedure covered. I was shocked – a lawyer had been behind the scenes of this event in my life, ensuring that my family and I were treated justly in the midst of that horrible time. They made it so that my parents could choose for me to live and be healthy without taking on a humongous debt for making the choice to save my life.
The connection I had observed between the healthcare and legal field was something that I wanted to take part in first hand. In order to do this, I traded my business casual attire for scrubs to work at New York Methodist Hospital. I worked in the Congestive Heart Failure Unit of the hospital, and I taught patients who had experienced CHE how to manage their conditions once leaving the hospital. The CHF Volunteer Intervention Program was created at the hospital to deter patients from being readmitted with CHF within thirty days of being discharged.
This is because the Affordable Care Act has created a financial penalty against the hospital if this were to occur, believing that the hospital either misdiagnosed the patient or did not provide the patients with enough information to adequately care for themselves once they had left the hospital. It was extremely rewarding for me to be able to work with these patients, especially since I had experienced CHE myself. I was able to educate multiple patients on how to alter their diets and restrict their fluid intake to prevent CHF from reoccurrence, as well as discuss symptoms to watch out for.
I was also able to observe the positive effect that law had on the patient’s health – hospitals were now more liable for ensuring that patients are more educated about their condition once leaving the hospital. Thad once regarded the professions of law and medicine as two completely distinctive and unrelated entities. I now realize that the two are completely intertwined. The realization of the law’s influence on not just medicine itself, but on hospitals, doctors, and patients changed my perspective on both fields entirely.
Medicine can treat and cure illness – but the law ensures fairness and justice in that process. It creates the standards of patient treatment, ensures the ethics of procedures, and forms laws about informed consent. Those who legislate health law and policy strive to make a positive difference in not only the healthcare system but in the health of the people in our country overall. || now knew that being a lawyer could create opportunities to make a difference in people’s health – just not in the way that I may have initially envisioned.