An Interview with Fred Valente Regional Advisor, ECFMG Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program
Fred Valente celebrated his 30th year as an ECFMG employee this fall, working as a regional advisor for the Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP). The following is an interview conducted by Journeys in Medicine to chronicle his achievement.
30 years! How does it feel to reflect on this milestone moment in your career?
Return with me now to the thrilling days of yesteryear, 1989. The Berlin Wall was torn down. The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize. The World Series was postponed for ten days as a result of an earthquake. An entire generation grew up since I started working here. Considering that this sort of longevity in one job is practically unheard of these days, I consider myself to be extremely lucky. Through my three decades, I have worked with many wonderful and talented people. We have always worked hard… really hard. We also laughed together and, sometimes, we cried.
By Tracy Wallowicz Director, ECFMG Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program and Compliance
The one-year anniversary of Journeys in Medicine is the perfect time to reflect and reminisce about the past year and to look ahead with excitement to all of the amazing exchange visitor (EV) physician stories yet to be told. The impact that EV physicians have on health care in the United States and around the world cannot be underestimated and it has been both an honor and pleasure to tell their stories through our blog. While I have truly enjoyed each and every blog entry, below are a few of my favorite quotes from the past year.
I am a pediatric intensivist, and I am from Nigeria. As an intensivist in the US, I offer multi-disciplinary care to children who are critically ill, in an ICU environment. Our team offers various forms of support for any organ-system failure ranging from tracheal intubation/mechanical ventilation to extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). However, in Nigeria and most other low and middle income (LMIC) countries, children who are critically ill are not cared for in an ICU environment. Most of the hospitals in these resource-limited settings lack the capacity and resources to intubate and mechanically ventilate children who are in respiratory failure from varied causes. As you read this blog, if a child goes to any of the major tertiary pediatric institutions in these regions, in respiratory failure or has any major organ-systems dysfunction, the fate of that child is grim. There are millions of such children, even at this moment.
“Surgery in the USA, huh? Do you know what are you doing with your life?” That was a quote from one of my friends.
Surgery is the most precious thing that happened to me. It was my dream to be a surgeon, but things got complicated when training in the USA came into play. I, like most of my friends during my medical school, thought surgery residency in the USA was an impossible task to accomplish, given the visa, high test scores, and research required to be competitive with US medical graduates. I dreamt of being a surgeon, day and night since childhood. So to me it was like a vision that only I was able to see, the passion only I was able to feel, the road only I had to walk, so that when I eventually make it come true it will become a hope for the people around me.
As I sit in a dear friend’s apartment in New York, basking in the nothingness of vacation, I realize that the time left in the intern year of my Internal Medicine training can no longer be measured in months. It has been quite the year and I am part trepid, part excited to transition into a senior role in the next academic year.
This is not the first of such transitions for me, and neither was Match Day 2018 my first dance with the NRMP. I first moved to the United States in 2016 to begin an Anatomic Pathology/Clinical Pathology (AP/CP) residency. I remember putting all I owned into two travel bags – more like haphazardly stuffing the bags – and getting on the long-haul flight to Chicago, to begin the next phase of my seemingly never-ending medical training. I was excited and grateful to be part of the next group of exchange visitor physicians.