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Celebrating National Latino Physician Day 2023


In the United States, Latinos/as make up 19% of the population, and yet of the physician workforce that we all rely on to stay healthy, only 6% identify as Latino/a. Here in California, the statistics are even more dire, with Latinos/as making up 39% of our current population.


This year, you may have seen in the news and on social media, a new movement to bring light to these disparities and the need for more Latino and Latina Doctors. October 1st has been designated as National Latino Physician Day.


There's been legislation introduced in Congress to mark the day officially, and we encourage everyone to follow along for updates at https://www.nationallatinophysicianday.com/. In honor of this movement, we wanted to acknowledge and celebrate some of our CLYLP alumni that have become physicians.


Dr. Brenda Barajas Medina

Alumna, SLC 2002


On the impact of CLYLP on her educational trajectory:

"The experiences I had at CLYLP provided me with lifelong friendships, mentors, and role models who undoubtedly empowered me to succeed in a field that lacks Latina representation. In turn, this has translated into me serving as a mentor to premed and med students, involvement in career panels and community events at different stages of my career path. It’s hard to be what you cannot see. CLYLP showed me the value of Latino leadership. Representation matters!"


And if you're interested in pursuing medicine, she shares the following:


"Being a physician is an incredibly rewarding career. Yes it is a long road (time passes anyway), yes there are some challenging tests (if something can be taught, you too can learn it), yes it can be expensive to finance so many years of schooling (there are free US medical schools, scholarship programs, fellowships and loans). Surround yourself with people who support your aspirations and people who you want to be like. Being a physician is an incredible privilege. I get to help guide others during some of the most vulnerable moments of their life and to play a role in someone’s healing from illness. Latinos might comprise only 6% of US physicians pero de doctor, poeta y loco- todos tenemos un poco!"


Dr. Érik Fernández y García, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P.

Alumni, CLYLP 1989/1990


On the impact of CLYLP on his educational trajectory:


My parents are from El Salvador. I constantly overheard conversations on TV and at family parties about the Salvadoran civil war. I believe that these conversations led to my unfocused but strong yearning for what I came to know as social justice and service work. My participation in the CLYL Conference in high school put definitions to this calling and introduced me to a whole community of kids and adults, just like me, who wanted to LEAD such efforts. I have never felt such inspiration again and carry it with me through the rigors of my education and profession.


And if you're interested in pursuing medicine, he shares the following:


In Califas, 50% of the youth but only 5% of the physicians are from Latine/x/a/o backgrounds. It is clear from research that healthcare is more effective for communities who experience health inequities, like our community, when healthcare providers come from those same communities. Our representation in the healthcare workforce is not just about justice, it is about saving lives! If you have any desire to be a physician, do it. It is a hard road and trust me, it will take all of your ganas. I am first-gen and had zero guidance, y pues aqui estoy. Si se puede!


Thank you to both Dr. Barajas Medina and Dr. Fernández y García for sharing a bit about their journeys!


We'd love to continue highlighting alumni who have gone into medicine, or any field! Reach out to us at alumni@clylp.org if you'd like to be a future alumni spotlight.


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