Fellowship Application Personal Statement

After my Instagram Live session last night, I received some requests to post my most recent personal statement. Keep in mind that this one essay was used to apply to two different fellowships (cardiothoracic anesthesiology and critical care). Do NOT copy clips of this personal statement as admissions committees are routinely using services that scour the web for plagiarism.

Only two days into my first intensive care unit (ICU) rotation as an intern, I heard the dreaded “code blue” overhead. “He just became unresponsive and stopped breathing!” exclaimed the nurse. This young man presented with diabetic ketoacidosis but also had a history of untreated AIDS and what would later be diagnosed as disseminated histoplasmosis. Within days he was weaned from mechanical ventilation, continuous renal­ replacement therapy, vasopressors, and a plethora of invasive monitors. Three weeks later, this man literally walked out of the ICU. His hospital course showed me the power of critical care thinking and interventions to save many from the most grim circumstances.

A year later, I witnessed how fragile patients with severe cardiovascular comorbidities can be in the perioperative setting. Relatively new to anesthesiology, I drew on my intensive care skills to care for these patients, but found myself with large knowledge gaps in echocardiography, intracardiac devices, and cardiopulmonary bypass. I then realized how a dual fellowship in critical care and adult cardiothoracic anesthesiology will empower me with the skills to become a more complete perioperative physician – one who not only understands the complex pathophysiology of life threatening ailments but is also skilled to appropriately diagnose and intervene in the operating room or ICU.

Throughout my residency training in anesthesiology, I have developed a propensity to accept the most challenging cases. Rather than shying away from complexity, I have grown substantially by working alongside our trauma and cardiothoracic anesthesiologists to polish my decision-making and procedural skills during our patients’ most desperate hours. Prioritizing the steps in resuscitation and learning to communicate with multidisciplinary teams are pivotal characteristics of a perioperative intensivist. Colleagues and patients have also noted my ability to effectively establish rapport, alleviate anxiety, and distill complex medical pathophysiology into simple concepts. These traits combine with a sincere empathy to help many patients and their families deal with end of life care ­a reality for many critically ill patients.

I now seek rigorous training in both fellowships to expand my breadth of diagnostics, familiarity with treatment modalities, procedural finesse, and ability to rapidly apply my full array of skills to help in any clinical situation. Starting with critical care will provide an unparalleled foundation in pathophysiology to build upon as a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist. I hope to matriculate to a program which encourages this blend of perioperative care and empowers its trainees to pursue scholarly activity, teaching, and ultimately facilitates finding a job as an academician.

In conclusion, these dynamic fields promise challenges in managing all aspects of a patient’s care. I feel the synergy of my medical knowledge and technical skills coupled with a strong work ethic and laidback persona make me well­fitted for a career in critical care and cardiovascular anesthesiology, and ultimately, as a complete perioperative academician.

I hope you will strongly consider my commitment to excellence at your program.

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  1. Hi Dr. Kumar,
    As we are gearing up for the fellowship match this year, I was looking for some sample fellowship personal statements to get an idea and came across yours but the picture of the PS doesn’t seem to open regardless of the device I use. If you could share it somewhere once more, that’d be huuuge!!
    Thank you!!

    1. Hey Amy! Just call me Rishi! I recently changed the design to my blog, and this was a glitch that went overlooked. You should be able to view it now. Best of luck to you! 🙂

  2. Dr. Rishi, I have been following you for a while and I appreciate the endless knowledge and different view points that you put out there to consume. Reading this just opened my mind to so much more. I aspire to be a perioperative academician though I am at the bottom of Mount Everest looking up at you.

    I am a USN Corpsman serving with 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton. Maybe one day I could shadow you in Texas! 😉

  3. Rishi,
    Thank you for sharing this personal statement – The tips and points you mentioned in the live session definitely reinforced some of the minute yet very important details I most often have missed unknowingly in the past (e.g. get to the point, unnecessary fluff, etc.).
    – Bhanu

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