A Miller School student pays tribute to courageous physicians who sacrifice their profession for their freedom
By Lara Juan Martinuzzi
Photography by Sonya Revell
Lara Juan Martinuzzi
One word makes a man’s day
That afternoon I realized that one word had likely made this man’s day. Doctor. A word that had come with many sacrifices, enormous commitment and profound passion. A title that he would never reclaim in America.
This was not the first time I had encountered a Latino physician who was unable to practice medicine or who had to go through additional, extensive training to regain their privileges in the U.S. A few months prior at a conference, I met a Venezuelan orthopedic surgeon who had just recently relocated to the U.S. He was at the conference to network within the medical field and was considering training to become a surgical technician.
A family friend who had been a renowned orthodontist in Caracas was now working as a dental hygienist for a local dentist in Miami. An OB/Gyn physician from Maracaibo whom I met on a medical mission trip was in the process of starting his residency — for the second time — in order to be able to practice in America.
These doctors abandoned their adored countries to create safer lives for their families. They left behind memories, homes and families. They renounced their titles and with enormous humility, entered their beloved medical profession in new roles. Their passion towards the field is undoubtable and will certainly be recognized by their future patients.
To all the doctors that cannot exercise their passion because they made the brave decision to give it up in search for a better life, I want you to know that the medical community sees you. The lives you touched in your past will never forget your work, and you shouldn’t either. Although you might not regain the privilege of being a practicing physician, your role in medicine is remembered; you will always be an honored part of this community.
Thank you, Doctor.
Lara Juan Martinuzzi is a third-year medical student at the Miller School of Medicine. Her essay was originally published on March 30, 2021, by in-Training, an online peer-reviewed publication written and edited by and for medical students. Republished with permission.