Hometown: I was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Washington Heights in the City of New York.
Name of Undergraduate Institution: University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Exercise Physiology Major
Name of Medical School: Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Residency and Fellowship Programs: Columbia University Medical Center
Favorite Quote: “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.”
Scholar Beats Incredible Odds to Become a Physician
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
My initial intent was to be a doctor but I stumbled into public health my first year of medical school. I felt that I could have more impact on my community by combining the two perspectives.
If you could go back and have a chat with your 1st year postgraduate self, what would you tell him?
That there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that everything will work out. Continue to have faith and trust in yourself and the man upstairs.
What advice would you give to a medical student looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
Adequate training is key. Some of it is formal training but some is self-learning. As you train and add different dimensions to your skill set, think of how these can be combined. I used to think that cardiology, epidemiology, echocardiography and behavioral medicine could not be combined, but they can. Think outside the box.
What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?
Staying true to what I saw as a vision of who I wanted to be. There will be a lot of differing opinions trying to tell you where you belong. But the real question is where do you think you belong? What do you want to be?
What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to residency?
The first priority is to get good clinical training. The second thing is to think about where do you want your career to be beyond residency.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
I love the intellectual mix in my job where I can see patients either in the office or on the hospital floor, do cardiac procedures, develop research programs and ideas, write grants, write research articles, mentor early career members, and have administrative duties.
Do you have another professional degree? If so, how has it impacted you?
An MPH. It has changed my whole perspective and has allowed me the flexibility to mold my career.
Can you please walk us through a typical workday?
There is no typical workday with the mix of things that I cover. Over the course of a typical week, I can start seeing patients in clinic one day, then another day sitting at a regional board meeting for the American Heart Association, then mentoring an early career colleague on writing her grant application, then sitting on an local IRB committee meeting reviewing clinical studies, then revising a paper for publication, then sitting down with Center staff and the associate director to review activities and strategies, then adjudicating clinical events for a national epidemiologic study, then performing cardiac procedures another day and then meet with my cardiac sonographer to review progress on my own epidemiologic study. Needless to say, my days are long.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of your job? The easiest part?
Most challenging is the time management and staying on top of everything I do. The easiest part is enjoying what I do.
What has been your favorite memory so far in your career?
Completing my clinical cardiology training and passing my boards. Making an impact in so many patients’ lives. Being the lead chair on the first ever Scientific Advisory on State of Cardiovascular Disease in Hispanics in the US.
What do you feel makes your specialty stand out from other specialties?
The impact that you can make on patients is immediate and palpable in cardiology. Cardiology has also allowed me to have a career that is a flexible mix of procedures, clinical care, research and public health.
What gives you the greatest motivation to get up every day to go to work?
My wife and two children. And all of the work I’ve done to get to this point.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
As important as your work is, do not forget your family. Don’t ever forget what you bring to the table.
How do you manage to balance your work life, romantic relationship, and family life?
Communication is very important. One, I let my wife know beforehand what to expect with the time demands of what I am doing in my career. Two, keep your partner engaged and aware of the use of your time. Three, take some time for yourself; also take some dedicated time for your family and take some dedicated time for you and your partner.
Do you have any passions outside of treating patients? If so, what are they?
Research and mentoring. Addressing health disparities.
What do you like to do for fun?
Playing golf and watching TV.
In an alternate universe, what career do you think you would be in right now if healthcare wasn’t an option for you?
I would just be another person in the ghetto. Becoming a doctor through a myriad of struggles was my only way out.
Who are some of your favorite musicians? Favorite books? Shows? Movies?
I love old school hip-hop (going back to Sugar Hill gang, etc.), Jazz/Blues, Star Wars and Marvel Comics.
Thank you so much for giving us some insight into your life Dr. Rodriguez! We can learn a whole lot from you! Your advice is really appreciated and both your passion in what you do and the incredible resilience that you have are very much palpable! You continue to inspire many people!
Health Career Spotlights Home Page
Posted on December 13th, 2017