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Personal Statement for Medical School Admissions
By: Richard Martin
October 2007

In my forty-seven years, I have had the good fortune of a wonderful family and a successful career. I have served on non-profit boards, business organizations, technology standards organizations, corporate boards, youth soccer leagues, and international science fair committees. However, an issue that has long invigorated and impassioned me, the lack of medical care in underserved communities, has continued to go unaddressed. For instance, in the Lehigh Valley, where I live, an estimated 20,000 people cannot afford basic medical care—ten percent of the population. I want to be able to provide those basic medical services, especially preventative medicine, which can ameliorate some of the worst problems, through a clinic in an area where, traditionally, the uninsured fall through the cracks. The Lehigh Valley, which is rich in hospitals and medical services, is nevertheless filled with those who cannot get the care they need.

The key is not complicated, obscure procedures, but basic medical care. In a study published by Oxford University Press in 1993, it was shown that 57% of all injury victims need only basic medical care, and fewer than 2% need surgery of any kind. Providing access to basic medical information will save lives. The need to provide good, affordable care in urban and suburban areas is dramatic and immediate. My plan is to relieve the burden on specialists and regional health centers and deliver, through education and healthcare, the requisite support for the underserved.

These clinics will specialize in delivering medical help and assistance to those in the local area. Should an emergency require it, I imagine a telemedicine consult with a local ER physician and upon concurrence and necessity, transportation to a care facility more suitable to assist the patient. In conceiving of this clinic, I have drawn on my extensive relevant experience in the technological side of medicine. In my career as a systems integrator and solutions provider, I have seen telemedicine (now known as telehealth) at work. In early 1994, for instance, Dr. Anne Thompson, then the chief of pediatrics of UPMC-CHP, which serves an association of five regional hospitals, saw a need. Many of the association’s hospitals are difficult to get to during the winter; ER doctors in the regional health care facilities had to call for assistance when a pediatric case presented. When a medical airlift, which costs $7,500 per flight, was called in, it often turned out to be unnecessary, and often times dangerous for the participants. More over, medical personnel were drawn from UPMC pediatrics, taking them away from their hospital responsibilities. Dr. Thompson’s proposal was to use telemedicine principles, video, telemetry, and consultation with the ER physician to determine more accurately whether or not transport was necessary, and, more importantly, a course of treatment for the pediatrics case. My solution was to create telemedicine links to each of the ER facilities directly to the PICU at UPMC, and create consult rooms where physicians could evaluate the sometimes complicated Pediatric cases. Although my solution was not chosen, the idea has spawned a series of discussions and actions by regional facilities across the nation for the use of telemedicine applications in emergent conditions.

I have also been involved in the implementation of telemedicine applications for the U.S. Army, and the base in Yuma, Arizona, which was in desperate need of primary care physicians. It was a remote outpost. The Army decided to use secondary health care providers, army nurses, to provide palpation, and U.S. Army physicians to provide diagnosis and treatment via a telemedicine link to a primary base. I was awarded the installation contract for an NEC Teledoc 5000 series telemedicine system. Likewise, I have been involved in the sale of telemedicine equipment to the State of New York for its rural medicine programs. Through these experiences I have seen the need for this kind of equipment from one side of the equation, and, at this stage of my career, I am now eager to implement my ideas about the evolution of medicine from another perspective, that of the care-taker.

My undergraduate degree, in nuclear engineering, came from Penn State, and upon graduation, working in the utility industry for several years; running my own radiation analysis laboratory and discovering the application of educational tools to industry. While I have not pursued a career in medicine along a traditional timeline, I have always wanted to go to medical school, and even had the chance in 1989, when I was accepted into the PhD program in bio-medical engineering at Penn State. At the time I was forced to make a choice that prevented me from pursuing my dream. Now, I have the time and the resources to fulfill it, as well as a passion that drives me towards medicine: the goal of providing basic services to underserved communities.

Upon completion of my studies, it is my hope that I can perform a meaningful residency in family medicine. Afterwards, I plan to apply my expertise in business, my experiences, and my medical degree to the creation and growth of non-profit facilities to address the pressing, necessary issue of the medically underserved in my community.