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Relax into the Tension
ERAS Personal Statement – September, 2019
There is satisfaction in a job well done. My bow presses into the heel of my left palm in dawn air heavy with dew. The dual cams roll smoothly as I draw back against 58 pounds of resistance and relax into the tension of my eager PSE Drive LT. I exhale, and the world fades away into the immediacy of the bow in my hands and the bright marker downrange. At the bottom of my breath, I release. The arrow is a part of me as it flies to the center of the target, nestled snugly between my other two shots. This is my meditation, and it kept me centered in the hectic first years of medical school.
Relax into the tension. With archery, I learned to seek excellence in every breath without clinging to the anxious stress that pinched the faces of my medical school classmates. In the emergency department (ED), I learned to trust all my senses and follow my patient’s lead, just as when dancing, I learned to relax into the tension of the leader’s hand, flowing through dips, backflips and spins. As a provider in the ED, I approach each patient with the fluid confidence I use to read the incoming waves while surfing, analyze data for my Ph.D. research, or capitalize on an opponent’s momentary lapse in concentration in jiujitsu. In medicine and in life, finding balance is the key. Relax into the tension to find your flow.
Speed and chaos calm my mind. The structured cacophony of the ED is comforting, and the hectic pace is relaxing—both remind me to focus on my target and prioritize my actions. Caring for a patient in the ED often feels like climbing a tree whose branches are made up of labs, imaging, consults and treatments. I enjoy interacting with family members, nurses, specialists and social workers, as we cooperatively figure out the best route to the top. Every successful discharge feels like a breath of fresh air rustling through treetops.
I thrive in emergency medicine because I love the anticipation of wondering where in the alphabet the next challenge will be: [A] Airway, breathing, circulation: trauma codes are adrenaline rushes back to the fundamentals—everyone likes those. [B] Broken bones give us a chance to hone anatomy and radiology skills and are rewarding because we can often provide definitive treatment. [C] Complex medical cases are hard, but they remind me to stay humble, always keep learning and be thorough. [D] Drug users, drunks and difficult dispositions are some of my favorites because unpleasant conversations challenge me to overcome any personal bias, frustration or complacency. [E] Emotional encounters (intimate partner violence, child abuse, miscarriages and grieving families) remind me of the inherent value of humanity, the reason I chose this path.
As an emergency medicine physician, I hope to notice the details that might be missed, address the hard problems and intervene at critical times in peoples’ lives. That desire—and the ability to find flow in the unpredictable chaos of medicine, hunting and life—is what draws me to emergency medicine. Every shift in the ED, I feel honored to earn my patients’ trust and am sincerely grateful for the opportunity to provide care to those who need it most. Relax into the tension. There is satisfaction in a job well done.
Copyright © 2022 by Erica Warkus