The Hispanics in UCLA medical school’s graduating class are looking forward to helping those is the Hispanic community, as they are best equipped to understand the culture and assist with the language barrier that keep many from seeking medical attention.
Born in Fresno, California to Mexican immigrant parents, Ricardo Salas, a soon-to-be graduate said he is excited to continue his studies at a “hospital frequented by many poor people…like me” for the next three years.
“At Olive View Hospital in Sylmar (a district in East Los Angeles), where I’m going to work in Spanish and try to get people their medicines, there are a lot of patients who have no medical insurance, many undocumented immigrants, people who have lost their jobs, and those people need Hispanic doctors.”
Salas, along with 159 students will graduate on June 3. About 10 of the graduates will be Hispanic.
“Speaking English and Spanish can be a big help in low-income communities, but I also [know] a third language, because to talk to my brothers I learned American Sign Language, so I’ll be able to speak with patients who can only communicate in sign language, “ Salas said. “The reason I’m going to be a doctor is because, in my family, we are five brothers, and I always wanted to understand from a medical point of view why the three youngest are deaf – that’s why I studied neurological sciences and then took a doctorate in medicine.”
Census Bureau data shows that Hispanics make up about 15.1 percent of the total U.S. population, yet according to the American Medical Association, in the U.S. only five percent of physicians are Hispanic.
“I’m going to use my profession to help whoever needs me, people who get no aid from the government and the less fortunate including Hispanics,” said Jose Luis Ocampo. His parents emigrated from Mexico to work in California factories. For the next three years, he will be working at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
“I feel a commitment to help them and it is with them I want to work.”