The Amity hospice was filled with despair and neglect

The Amity hospice was filled with despair and neglect. On my first day there, after an hour of training, I met Robbie, a delicate, eighty-year-old Alzheimer’s patient who was recovering from a stroke that had severely affected her speech. I took her to a hair appointment. It had been weeks since she had been outside. After waiting for an hour and a half, she was called in. Hungry, I suggested we go and get some lunch. At first Robbie resisted; she didn’t want to accept the lunch offer. Estranged from her family and seemingly ignored by her friends at the nursing home, she wasn’t used to anyone being kind to her. When we arrived at the restaurant and our food arrived, Robbie took her first bite. Suddenly, her face lit up with the biggest, most radiant smile. She was on top of the world because somebody bought her lunch and was giving her attention. So little bought so much, it was amazing. While elated that I had literally made Robbie’s day, the neglect and emotional isolation from which she suffered disgusted me. This was a harsh side of health care I had not seen before. Right then and there, I wondered, “Do I really want to go become an Attorney?”
What had made me so upset about my day with Robbie? Before then nothing in my personal, academic, or volunteer experiences had shaken my single-minded commitment to law. Why was I so unprepared for what I saw? Was it the proximity of death, knowing Robbie was terminal? No, it couldn’t have been. Volunteering in the ICU unit at the Medical center of Plano and Amity Hospice, I had experienced death time and time again. Was it the financial hardship of the hospice residents, the living from day to day? No, I dealt with that myself watching my parents as new immigrants from Colombia working day by day to meet finances and I had even worked full-time during a year of college. Financial difficulty was no stranger to me. Neither financial distress nor the sight of death had deterred me.
Before the day in the hospice, I only wanted to be an attorney. My interest in law had started out with an enjoyment of volunteering and my government 1 course in high school. From mock trials, the study of cases, and advocating for equal rights has been a delightful journey with new discoveries each day. Equally satisfying was my lecture with Dr. Pinkham which provided an overview of fundamental theories and research in the field of abnormal psychology which lead me to pursue a degree in psychology and incorporate it into law. Specific topics included social perception, attitude change and social influence, aggression, deviance and control, alienation. Looking at the results of an experiment for the first time and knowing that my data, this newly found piece of information, is furthering our knowledge in a small area of science is an indescribable experience. I have so enjoyed it that I am currently working with Therapy and Beyond as a Registered Behavior Technician.
Dr. Collins, the general practitioner for whom I volunteered for two and a half years, had always told me that the desire to become a clinical psychologist must come from deep within. In her office, I took patients’ vital signs and helped them feel more comfortable. I also spent a significant amount of time with Dr. Collins learning about the physician’s role. It was a great learning experience to have learned the medical side of health. She became my mentor. I learned of the physician’s many responsibilities — personal integrity, an endless love of learning, and the awareness that throughout his or her career every physician is a student and a teacher. I also realized that in medicine and even psychology many decisions are based on clinical approximation, as opposed to the precision of the lab. Still after two and a half years in his office, I was unprepared for Amity hospice and my experience with Robbie.
Even my volunteer work at Family Clinic in Colombia, which serves a large poor and underprivileged population, failed to prepare me for Robbie. In the clinic, I worked a lot with children and interacted with their families. I recall an episode when the parents of a nine-year-old girl brought her to the clinic. They were nervous and frightened. Their daughter had a hard time breathing because of a sore throat and had not been able to sleep the previous night. I took her vital signs, inquired about her chief complaint. After she was seen by the physician, I assured her parents that her illness was not serious, she had the flu, and the sore throat was merely a symptom. The relief in the parents’ faces and the realization that I had made them feel a little bit more comfortable was most fulfilling. During my stay at the clinic, I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with patients and dealing with a different socio-economic group than I found in Dr. Collins’s office. But while I was aware of their poverty, I was not aware if they suffered from emotional isolation and neglect.
The abandonment that caused Robbie’s loneliness nauseated me. But after I thought about it, I understood that meeting Robbie and working in the hospice gave me an opportunity, however painful, for accomplishment and personal growth. I also learned clinical psychology offers a lifetime of such opportunities. I’m glad I met Robbie. I visited her and others in the hospice at least once a week. My experience with Robbie and other hospice patients led me to re-commit to a career as clinical psychologist, the only career I want to pursue, but a clinical psychologist who will always have a minute to comfort. Yes, my research is exciting and important. Yes, therapy involves problem solving and analysis of behaviors and symptoms as I learned at the Family Clinic. And yes, medicine frequently involves clinical approximation as Dr. Collins taught me. But more than any of the above, as I learned at Amity hospice, clinical psychology requires compassion and caring.
It is for this reason that I’m applying to UNT Dallas College of Law. My approach to law will be multidisciplinary, which is evidenced by the fact that I’ve already graduated with a double-major in early childhood psychology. I am driven and passionate. And while I know that the JD program at UNT Dallas College of Law will likely be the biggest challenge I will face in my life, I know that I am up for it. I am ready to be challenged and prove to myself I can achieve great things: I will be an Attorney.

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I'm Barry!

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