Educating Tomorrow's Health Care Leaders
Dr. Alberto Esquenazi expressed deep gratitude for the AL DÍA Top Doctor award, but in reflecting on achievements such as this one, he emphasized the voices of encouragement that propelled him through his early life and career.
AL DÍA Top Doctors Award recipient, Dr. Alberto Esquenazi, entered the field of medicine at the early age of 18. Raised in Mexico City, Dr. Esquenazi was an inquisitive child who quickly became captivated by the sciences.
“I would take apart my sister’s dolls,” he described. “Suddenly dolls that used to talk couldn’t talk and I had to put them back together.”
What his parents called destructive behavior, Dr. Esquenazi called learning. He was curious, wanting to understand the world around him and keen to discover how things worked.
This curiosity was encouraged by his teachers in high school. He enjoyed coursework in biology and anatomy. Teachers in these classes provided him with the means and freedom to explore his interests, unimpeded. When he expressed eagerness to dissect animals, his teachers made the effort to acquire the tools and lab space necessary for him to do so. Through these experiments he became fascinated by the intricate structures and processes at work within animal and human bodies. He dreamt of one day becoming a surgeon.
The pursuit of that dream led Dr. Esquenazi to enroll in a medical program at the National Autonomous University of Mexico School of Medicine. But while in medical school, a burn injury caused by a chemical accident in the laboratory led to the amputation of his right arm below the elbow. Swiftly and suddenly, his dreams were shattered.
Following the incident Dr. Esquenazi felt depleted and lost. His direction was uncertain. It was the encouragement of a physiatrist who helped him through the rehabilitation process that kept him moving forward.
“The physician who took care of me really guided me step-by-step by saying, ‘You shouldn’t abandon medicine, you shouldn’t go do something else,’” Dr. Esquenazi explained. “That was really a life changing experience.”
Inspired by these events, Dr. Esquenazi shifted trajectory. He and his family moved to Philadelphia in 1982. He took part in a three year residency training program at Temple University Hospital, after which he promised his wife that their family would return home to Mexico. When the program was completed, Dr. Esquenazi was offered an extra year of training. After that year of work, more opportunities arrived. 37 years later, Philadelphia has become home.
In that space of time, Dr. Esquenazi has led an accomplished career. He now serves as the Chairman of Physical Medicine and Rehab at the Moss Rehab Facility of the Einstein Healthcare Network. As a physiatrist, his work specializes in helping patients with neurological conditions that impair their movement abilities as well as those that have lost limbs and require prosthetics. The work is multi-faceted, crossing various medical and scientific disciplines and involving aspects of practice, research, teaching, and administration, but the component of his work he enjoys most is patient care.
“Patient care is quite unique,” said Dr. Esquenazi. “In my line of work, for example, when you deal with someone who is unable to walk and are then able to help them regain their ability to walk, sometimes dance, and you’re able to get a hug from that person, it can make a huge difference in how you perceive what you are doing.”
2019 AL DÍA Top Doctor Award recipient, Dr. Alberto Esquenazi, expressed deep gratitude to be recognized as one of the best medical professionals in the Philadelphia region by AL DÍA News Media. But when asked about the most rewarding aspect of his work, he emphasized patient care. “Patient care is quite unique,” said Dr. Esquenazi. “In my line of work, for example, when you deal with someone who is unable to walk and are then able to help them regain their ability to walk, sometimes dance, and you’re able to get a hug from that person, it can make a huge difference in how you perceive what you are doing.” Read more at http://aldianews.com about Dr. Alberto Esquenazi and the three other Top Doctor award winners who were honored at the AL DÍA Doctor Forum and Reception on Jan. 24 at the Union League in Philadelphia.
A post shared by AL DÍA News (@aldianews) on
Dr. Esquenazi expressed deep gratitude for the AL DÍA Top Doctor award, but in reflecting on achievements such as this one, he emphasized the voices of encouragement that propelled him through his early life and career. He urged local institutions in the Philadelphia region to foster similar supportive environments for young Latino and Latina individuals by exposing them to possibilities in healthcare.
“No doubt that there are lots of things that we should be doing. We’re doing some, but not enough,” said Dr. Esquenazi.
As an example, he pointed to a summer fellowship run by Einstein Healthcare Network. The three-week long summer program brings an array of high school students from different backgrounds, living in North Philadelphia, into the healthcare workplace.
“They get paired with nurses and physicians and with medical technicians who really guide them through the process and allows them to see what not only medicine is, but what science can do.”