Medicine is not always about curing, but about healing and listening

One of the expert’s missions is to be able to create change, educate and positively impact young Puerto Ricans.

Dra. Bárbara Rosado is currently a gastroenterologist with a subspecialty in liver transplantation. Photo: Journal of Medicine and Public Health. Fabiola Plaza.

Thanks to a thorough training in medicine, the Dr. Barbara Rosado it is currently gastroenterologist with subspecialty in liver transplantation. He began his studies at the University of Puerto Rico, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in biology, and then entered the School of Medicine of the Medical Sciences Campus.

“I entered the Internal Medicine program of the Medical Sciences Campus, and did an additional year as chief president. Later, I had the opportunity to enter one of the most recognized centers in the United States, the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where I studied gastroenterology and completed an additional year in hepatology and liver transplantation, ”he added. “Then, I return to Puerto Rico, and I join the faculty of the Ponce School of Medicine, being an associate professor at that institution, and that is when I establish my practice in Ponce.”

Dr. Rosado remembers that, during her years at the School of Medicine, she had great mentors, such as Dr. Esther Torres, who was an important pillar in her professional career.

“One of the reasons why I chose internal medicine is because it is a branch that allows me to establish a differential diagnosis for patients. Being already in internal medicine, I realized that gastroenterology was the area that I was passionate about, since it could make early diagnoses and interventions, such as screening for colorectal cancer, and reduce mortality from that point of view. Also, there are many diseases associated with women such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, autoimmune hepatitis, among others”.

During her residency in this area of ​​medicine, the specialist became aware of the high demand for patients who required the assistance of a hepatologist, since many people with advanced chronic disease arrived and, according to the expert, Puerto Rico did not have a center transplant and did not have the specialized human resources, so he took on the task of continuing his studies in gastroenterology

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For Dr. Rosado, communication with her patients is essential in treatment. Photo: Journal of Medicine and Public Health. Fabiola Plaza.

“My return from the United States to Puerto Rico has been challenging. Our health system can be challenging from the point of view of access barriers to certain treatments such as hepatitis C, which, fortunately, has been released and the restrictions have been less and less in terms of patient benefits” , he acknowledged. “At first, getting therapies to certain populations was difficult and these barriers have been eliminated.”

After the return of Dr. Rosado to the island, together with other specialists in the area, they took on the task of developing collaborations with other institutions in the United States, such as the University of Tennessee and the Ochsner Clinic, with the aim of providing the patient with the opportunity to receive a transplant in Puerto Rico even without having a specialized center where it was performed.

“In 2005, when I returned to Puerto Rico, I did not have privileges at Hospital Damas, but even so they called me to please see a patient who was very sick. She was a young woman who had developed fulminant liver failure not associated with any viral infection, we understood that she was somewhat autoimmune and she was able to be transported by air ambulance at that time to the Mayo Clinic in Florida. Today, that patient is fine, she is alive, she has a useful life, she has seen her children grow up and 17 years later she is still my patient”, she recounted. “It has been a challenge, but also a very big achievement.”

Women’s struggle for gender equality in medicine

Fortunately, the differential gap between the participation of men and women in certain branches has been narrowing: “we see that women have been overcoming barriers, creating bridges and opening doors”.

“When I was at the Mayo Clinic, we had 85 consultants in the gastroenterology unit, only 2 of whom were women. Between us, we were also only 2 women and the others were men, ”she recalled. “I believe that the fact that women are making their way into branches that have been dominated by men and that we are doing so well, has allowed us to see more and more empowered women who have multiple roles in their lives, occupying important management positions. leadership”.

Likewise, the expert emphasizes that it is important for her to make her students and society understand, through education, that a doctor must not lose his human role by being a mother, wife, daughter and professional, and being able to set an example of construction of that balance so that they feel that everything can be done, and it can be done well.

“There has always been the idea that we cannot do everything well, or that if you are a good professional, then perhaps you are not present in your children’s lives. Those are stigmas that need to be removed.”

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“When that person walks out of my office with a smile, it’s extremely gratifying and there are no words or anything material that can replace it.” Photo: Journal of Medicine and Public Health. Fabiola Plaza.

Empathy and active listening: main roles of the treating physician

For the gastroenterologist, one of the greatest satisfactions is to make the patient who enters your office feel cared for, listened to and respected. “We must not only focus on treating or curing, because we will not always be able to do it, but we can heal and listen,” he emphasized.

Within the roles that a doctor has, they are not limited only to the diagnosis, management and treatment of diseases; on the contrary, the role of a doctor must transcend and become an educator with his patients.

“For my part, one of the things that I am passionate about is contributing to the training of the doctors of the future, so one of the things that I wanted when I made the decision to return to Puerto Rico was to be part of a medical school. doctor or a medical school where I could help train future colleagues, students, and residents.”

State-of-the-art medicine for the benefit of patients

Dr. Rosado emphasized the importance of doctors continuing their education process to be up-to-date on the main needs of the general population, advances in science and technology.

“Medicine is not static, it is changing and that is why we doctors must continue this education process in order to provide patients with the best possible quality of service,” he asserted.

Another of the facets to which the expert has dedicated herself has been research. This has allowed him to participate in important studies that have contributed positively to the evolution of treatment for hepatitis C and other conditions.

“Doctors must have an appetite to contribute to the advancement of science; it is something that I wish we could incorporate a little and that we should dedicate time to develop, because it helps us create the necessary changes and offer better tools, while we understand our population better”.

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During his stay at the Mayo Clinic, he always had in mind to return to his country and provide a specialized and high-quality service. Photo: Journal of Medicine and Public Health. Fabiola Plaza.

The family, its main engine

As mentioned by the gastroenterologistBeing able to maintain an adequate balance between her profession and her personal life has been a challenge for her. However, she assures that with the help of her husband, Dr. Francisco Torres, the process has been more bearable and possible in all their years together.

“I have two fabulous children, one is graduating from fourth grade and my daughter is in eleventh grade, and that part of educating them, so that they are good human beings, and of benefit to society, has also been one of my great tasks” .

On the other hand, his father, whom he still cares for, has been a central axis throughout his medical career, since he assures that he learned important values ​​from him that, today, govern his life.

“My father always told me, ‘I’m not going to be able to leave you an inheritance, but the most important thing I’m going to be able to leave you is education.’ Since I was 5 years old I played with stethoscopes and he told me so and I have internalized it and it is something that I also try to impart to my children and I believe that, within society, it is essential that our children and young people are educated in order to have a country better”, concluded Dr. Bárbara Rosado.

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