Jesse Hernandez is a 2011 Notre Dame graduate and majored in Arts & Letters pre-professional studies and psychology. Hernandez writes about his time in Puebla and how it led to a career in medicine.
My time in Puebla was very influential both in my career path and my experience at Notre Dame. The program was phenomenal and gave me my first experience shadowing medical professionals. I had the opportunity to shadow physicians of various specialties and it gave me a realistic insight into the day-to-day life of a physician. It was a priceless experience that would not have been possible without the Puebla program. It further strengthened my conviction to continue pursuing a medical career.
While I was in Puebla, I traveled around the country, learned more about my Mexican heritage, and had a great educational experience at Universidad de las Américas. Lisette Monterroso was amazing and looked after us as if we were her own children. She organized trips that further enhanced our understanding of the Mexican culture and introduced us to some holistic medical practices in rural communities. My favorite trip involved us having a “temascal bath,” essentially a sweat lodge that was common among ancient Aztecs. At the end of the bath, we all jumped into a freezing swimming pool. Puebla was by far my favorite part of my undergraduate experience at Notre Dame.
Currently, I am in my final year of my Emergency Medicine residency at UT Southwestern Medical Center/Parkland Memorial Hospital and practice at the busiest emergency department in the country. Parkland sees over 241,000 ER visits a year. My patient population is made up of primarily underserved/unfunded communities including a large segment of Latino patients.
I use my medical Spanish on a daily basis. It is a privilege to be able to provide medical care to patients in their native language. I never thought I would be training through a pandemic; it has been both a scary and rewarding educational experience. The pandemic has allowed my fellow ER doctors to demonstrate our diverse array of clinical skills and knowledge, all while being part of the front lines against COVID-19.
It is crazy to think that just 10 years ago I was shadowing a doctor for the first time in Puebla. Now I have pre-med students shadowing me and find myself on the other side of the coin trying to inspire the next generation. If I could do it again, without question, I would still choose Puebla.
Learn more about the Puebla program.