My journey started in Colombia, my home country, where I attended medical school. After getting my medical degree, I had the opportunity to work with underserved communities. I had to do a lot with little and I came to understand the impact of social disparities on health. The reality of the meager resources available in this environment necessitated that the resourcefulness of physicians was the primary tool to achieve optimal patient care. This experience shaped me into an innovator in the field of medicine. I could not have gotten where I am today without being different and thinking outside the box. I would like to share three moments in my career where this proved true.
When a 33-year-old lies unconscious in front of you, it’s never a good sign. This 33-year-old, female patient was found unresponsive by her family. Despite trying medications for possible reversible causes, she did not wake up. She turned out to be an unfortunate case of catastrophic stroke. By the time I saw her, she had fixed, dilated pupils, no reflexes, and no movements. She was brought to the ICU to do more, only to realize there was nothing more available for her. She was already on a ventilator and the maximum doses of four pressors, which were barely able to keep her BP to 40 systolic. She eventually succumbed to her disease.
This October, I was selected to be one of less than 10 ECFMG-sponsored J-1 physicians to attend a three-day leadership development seminar held in Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The seminar I attended was one of a series of eight planned in 2022 and 2023 that make up the BridgeUSA Leadership Development Program. According to its website, the program will host up to 200 total BridgeUSA participants and intends to “promote mutual understanding and lasting partnerships between emerging leaders from foreign countries and the United States,” give its attendees a chance to “collaborate and share ideas, approaches, and strategies to develop solutions to local and global challenges,” and create “a global network of like-minded professionals committed to creating positive change in their workplaces and communities.”
By Amanda Bintz Outreach and Engagement Coordinator, ECFMG
“Keep the cups stacked three levels high, and fill them a third of the way,” the volunteer coordinator told us as she handed us bright green ponchos branded with the TCS New York City Marathon logo and featuring the Statue of Liberty.
“One day at a time.” These exact words I continue to say to myself even after matching and beginning my residency. I had always known my goal was to pursue a residency in the United States. I would read medical books, articles, and other research done in the United States to complement my learning back home. I always thought to myself: “I want to find out how they’re discovering all these new things, participate in them, and hopefully bring innovative techniques back home.”