¿Hay una Doctora (Talia Torres, M.D.) en La Casa?
The best thing about being the “founder” of Physician Outlook Magazine is that I get to tell MY story, and the story of others that have had a great impact on my life.
It’s no secret that we have a shortage of physicians in the United States, and we have an even greater shortage of physicians of diverse backgrounds. As we experienced during the COVID19 pandemic, diverse patient populations were disproportionately harmed by the virus because of a combination of factors (higher rates of obesity, hypertension, poverty, multiple generations living together, poor access to care, and employment as underpaid essential workers, among many other contributing circumstances).
It has been well documented that patients’ health improves when care is delivered by someone who is culturally similar. So the obvious solution to overcoming our nations’ shortages of culturally competent and diverse physicians?
It’s not rocket science: the solution is obvious. We need to “grow” more doctors, and we need to cultivate them from within the very communities that need medical care and preventive education the most.
Thanks to the generosity of a female entrepreneur and philanthropist by the name of Sophie Davis, a program that does just that was born at the City University of New York. The accelerated degree program created a path to medicine for economically disadvantaged students who promise at least two years of primary care service in an underserved community. Although graduates are no longer called “Sophies,” the program’s goals and commitment remain the same: to produce broadly educated, highly skilled physicians of African American, Hispanic/LatinX, and other ethnic backgrounds who have historically been under-represented. The graduates of this program excel as healthcare advocates and role models for future generations.
The story of Dr. Talia Torres is a very special one for me, because she is the first of my pediatric patients who has literally “followed in my footsteps” and career path to become a doctor. You can read more about her-story in The Hispanic Outlook on Education. When Talia was born, I was a young, fresh-faced, eager new Attending Pediatrician at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center (now NY-Presybeterian), working for the famous Dr. David Israel Smith, whose office was across the street from the hospital.
Dr. Smith’s practice was the medical home for many of New York City’s “famous families.” We saw our fair share of celebrities and their children, but what I loved most about working for Dr. Smith is that we also saw a lot of “regular, normal folk.” Talia and her parents did not fall into the “rich and famous” category in the traditional definition, but they have filled my life with the sort of currency that money can’t buy.
I am beyond proud of Dr. Talia Torres, as it is in her reflection that I see a promising future.