Boricua Badass: Defining Dr. Talia Torres
What has your journey through medical school taught you? What kind of hardships did you face?
It has been a few months since I’ve officially become Dr. Talia Marie Torres. It has been 9 years since I have begun this journey. It was non-traditional in every sense. Straight from high school, I started a combined BS/MD program in New York City. This accelerated program forced me to learn quickly, barely passing every class by the skin of my teeth. I somehow made it through unscathed and proceeded to complete my clinical years in Ohio. Being here added new challenges, like driving for the first time as a 23-year-old and moving over 500 miles away from home. Isolated from my support system, I had to try to build new bonds in this foreign place. I wasn’t as lucky this time around.
My motivational quotes app sends me a daily notification, and one of the quotes that resonated with me was, “I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me.” Although I am not familiar with this video game character, Joshua Graham’s quote is the definition of my medical school experience. There were countless obstacles that I faced that I thought were going to end my dream of becoming a doctor.
From failing small exams in undergrad physics to clinical board exams in my third year of medical school to have to repeat that entire clinical year, I felt that failure was beginning to define me. Imagine being told by a doctor in your desired specialty, “I wouldn’t want you in my program because of your significant lack of knowledge.” Imagine feeling like no one is on your side, except for your family and friends who are 500 miles away. It takes a toll on your mental health when you are isolated and physically not with your support system. Through this arduous journey, I learned that the fire inside of you is what will keep you moving. That fire was my family, friends and the thought of my sweet abuelita telling her doctors, “I want to live to see my granddaughter graduate.” Having faith in the unknown is nearly impossible some days.