I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Héctor John Marti, a Puerto Rican doctor currently doing an internship at the Hospital Metropolitano de San German in Puerto Rico. He recently graduated from the international medical school program at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara where he spent three years before soliciting to do his last year of clinical rotations at HMSG. Afterward, they offered him an internship position, and that is where he is now. He will apply for residency following the end of his internship. His Instagram page is fascinating and super informative from a medical aspect, so please follow him at https://www.instagram.com/dr.johnmarti/.
What was the medical school experience in Mexico like, and how did you feel about the transfer to Hospital Metropolitano de San German in Puerto Rico?
My medical school experience was a pretty great one! Sure, there are always things you wish you could change, but I got the opportunity to live in a country with a different culture, experience how medicine is done in other places, and make lifelong friends! I also loved the sense of community. Being at a place with like-minded individuals who share similar goals was amazing! It gives you the sense you’re not alone in this journey. What I mainly disliked was that the education is given in the international program (for US students) wasn’t very relevant to what the USMLE required us to learn, so the process of studying for the Boards was more challenging. Fortunately, we addressed the issue, and I believe the school started taking action towards providing a more relevant course for US students. The school’s teaching format varied, but it was mainly based on course lectures. For certain subjects like anatomy, we also had laboratory hours. Something I want to highlight is that for the first 2 years we had a weekly course called DHC, which in Spanish stands for “Destrezas y Habilidades Clínicas” (Clinical Skills & Abilities) where we learn all about the proper history and physical examination. Also, the school created PMS, which stands for “Programa Medicina en la Comunidad” (Community Medicine Program) where students can go to different clinics around the state and help out communities in need with basic medical services, medicine, and food. In regards to transferring back to Puerto Rico, that is something that I’ve always wanted to do. It provided a good US clinical experience where I have learned very much. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be part of HMSG.
Can you tell me more about the internship you are doing in Puerto Rico?
The internship I’m doing at HMSG in Puerto Rico is a year-long in duration. It’s basically an extension of medical school or a 5th year. Here I do rotations in all of the different services the hospital offers. This hospital has surgery, gynecology/obstetrics, pediatrics, internal medicine, intensive care unit, and emergency room rotations. At the moment, I’m currently in the emergency room, which I love. The great thing about this program is that I have direct access to all the attending physicians. Cases are discussed directly with them, and the learning experience is amazing! There are no residents here, so as an intern, we get to do almost everything a resident would do. From initial patient evaluations and case presentations to assisting in surgical procedures, to taking command of ACLS protocols if a patient were to suffer a cardiorespiratory arrest, and even to intubate if it is necessary. A normal day would consist of a morning meeting with my colleagues where the on-call intern briefs everyone on the hospital’s new admissions and patient eventualities. Then, we proceed to do rounds with the attendings, and then we do patient progress notes as we manage whatever happens during the day with the patients. Finally, we end the day with a patient hand-off to the intern that will stay during the night.
Why did you choose to become a doctor in the first place, and what do you think are the traits of a great one?
I chose to become a doctor because I have a genuine love for people and the belief that I can help others. To have the capacity to affect change in the life of another human being is nothing short of extraordinary. Every day, I strive to make a small impact. I’m just so thankful I’ve been able to learn so much about myself while in the service of others. It’s truly been a blessing. On that note, there are many traits that a good physician should have, from being humble and kind with an attention to detail to be disciplined and diligent. However, I believe that a good physician is the one that first and foremost is aware that it is always preferable to prevent illness, more so than to treat and cure. And if treatment is ever necessary, a good physician should provide it with the utmost care and respect towards human life before him. Finally, he is to never forsake the art form that is medicine and the privilege that is to be a physician.
Do you have any idea what type of specialist do you want to become?
I have been asked this question a lot, and my response has always been the same. I truly love medicine as a whole and would commit to any specialty because, for me, the end goal is to help people, to save a life, and to prevent disease. But if I have to choose one, I would say Integrative Medicine just because it involves a more complete approach (conventional and alternative) to address the patient’s underlying conditions. Integrative Medicine is an approach that puts the patient at the center and addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and environmental influences that affect a person’s health. It employs a personalized strategy that considers the patient’s unique conditions, needs, and circumstances. It uses the most appropriate interventions from an array of scientific disciplines to heal illness and disease and to help people regain and maintain optimum health.
Are you involved with other types of medical work outside of the clinical aspect like research or public health work?
At the moment, I’m not involved in any research or public health work, but as an undergraduate student, I was involved in a Study titled “Risk Factors in Patients with Breast Cancer” where we interviewed many breast cancer patients to identify common risk factor patterns shared. I enjoyed interacting with these amazing people, and listening to their stories was amazing! It was a very humbling experience in itself to be a part of this.
What do you see as the biggest public health issue the world is dealing with right now?
I believe that we’re experiencing a problem in which doctors aren’t allowed to practice real medicine. The work is micromanaged and sanctioned by insurance companies. Needed treatments and medications are denied to patients left and right. Sadly this creates a ripple effect in which more doctors are stressed and unhappy with their work. This ultimately leads to a major disconnect between those providing care and those seeking help, compromising patient care greatly. Just remember that medicine is about people. We are healers, and our calling is to serve.
What is your advice for high school students who want to become a doctor when they grow up?
My advice for high school students that want to become doctors would be twofold. The first part of the advice involves what you do, and the other involves who you are. For the first part, just learn to deploy patience and to be disciplined with your studies. For the second and most important part, work on yourself. By this I mean learn to serve others with a full heart even when you’re tired and when you’re not feeling great. It’s about the people. You have to love people, all people. You can always look up what you don’t know, but the way you work on yourself, the way you devote yourself to serve others, the way you never stop learning says something about who you are, and it says something about the type of doctor you’ll become.
Dr. John Marti. Instagram, www.instagram.com/dr.johnmarti/. Accessed 11 Nov. 2017.
Hospital Metropolitano. Metro Pavia Health System: Medical Tourism, medicaltourismmphs.com/metro-pavia-health-system/. Accessed 11 Nov. 2017.
Integrative Medicine Consultations. BW Primary Care: Bridge to Wellness, bwprimarycare.com/owings-mills/services/integrative-medicine-consultations/. Accessed 11 Nov. 2017.
People Helping People. People Helping People, www.familyhelpingpeople.com/. Accessed 11 Nov. 2017.
Universidad Autónoma De Guadalajara. Suites Guadalajara, suitesguadalajara.com/. Accessed 11 Nov. 2017.