By: Ana Sofia Ore, MD MPH
My journey away from home started before residency, when I moved to Boston to start my research training. I had fears of how welcoming the city would be to a hispanic woman starting to immerse into surgical research and training. I was fortunate to then match for residency here. It’s been five years since I moved to Boston, and it truly feels like home. But what makes it home? The answer is simple. The community I have here. When I think of #HispanicHeritageMonth, that’s the first thing that comes to my mind. I think of the community that I am now a part of and the importance of having that in my personal and professional life.
A major part of this community are my co-residents. I feel incredibly blessed having peers that understand me, in some cases have similar backgrounds as me, share my goals and fears about the future, and understand how difficult it is to have our loved one’s thousands of miles away. Having a conversation in Spanish in the resident lounge after a very long hard day at work is invaluable and it can fix any bad day.
The pandemic has been emotionally challenging for a lot of people and it can be especially terrifying to know that you are so far away from your loved ones. Travel restrictions and immigration delays have made it almost impossible for many of us to travel home. Many of us have not seen our families since the pandemic started and having a supportive environment at work has made it all much more tolerable.
Another big part of my community is our large Hispanic patient population. I am grateful I can offer them relief by having a conversation in Spanish and make them feel understood and validated. There is no better sense of belonging than being able to care for your community and to try to break down the barriers that impact their care.
My community also lives at home. Having a hispanic partner that shares my values and introduced his Bostonian/Dominican culture into my life makes me feel supported and is the foundation of why I can call this city home.
Sometimes you are lucky and will find your community immediately, sometimes you have to work hard to build it. When choosing where to live, whether it’s for residency, fellowship or to practice, having a sense of belonging is something that no one tells you to prioritize. I can’t emphasize enough how important this has become in my life and the positive impact it has on my wellness and ability to keep working hard in order to continue to achieve my goals.
Being a female hispanic surgeon in training is challenging. Being a foreigner is sometimes terrifying. But finding a community and feeling like you belong has been crucial during my training. It truly takes a village.
Dr. Ana Sofia Ore is a general surgery resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA. Currently starting her first year of research elective. She is a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Center for Functional Glycomics at Harvard Medical School and is focusing on translational colorectal cancer research. Born and raised in Lima, Peru, after finishing medical school, Ana Sofia joined the Master of Science in Clinical Research program at the Dresden International University in Germany. After graduating she moved to Boston where she completed a research fellowship at the Pancreas and Liver Institute at BIDMC. During this time, Ana Sofia also received her MPH from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health with a concentration in Clinical Effectiveness and Public Health Leadership. She is the founding Chair of the Diversity, Inclusion and Advocacy Council for all residents and fellows at BIDMC, and is passionate about health disparities and improving surgical outcomes in underrepresented populations. In her free time, she enjoys cooking Peruvian food and hiking in New England.
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