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Dr. Natalia Ortiz-Torrent speaking at AL DÍA's 2020 Top Doctors Forum. Photo: Nigel Thompson/AL DÍA News.
Dr. Natalia Ortiz-Torrent speaking at AL DÍA's 2020 Top Doctors Forum. Photo: Nigel Thompson/AL DÍA News.

Philadelphia County Medical Society elects its first Hispanic woman president ever

Dr. Natalia Ortiz-Torrent was awarded at AL DÍA’s 2020 Top Doctors Forum back in January for her work leading the next generation of Latino doctors.

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When she accepted her award at AL DÍA’s 2020 Top Doctors Forum back on January 22, Temple University Hospital’s Dr. Natalia Ortiz-Torrent said the most important part of her job at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine was guiding the next generation of Latino doctors to success.

“We need to do our best to pave the way for the younger generation. We need to help get them a seat at the table… and teach them how to navigate their careers and overcome the barriers,” she said in her acceptance speech.

Now, five months after the ceremony, Dr. Ortiz-Torrent takes her message of guidance for the next generation of Latino doctors to the presidency of the Philadelphia County Medical Society.

She was elected by her peers in June 2020 as the society’s 159th president and will serve until June 2021. With the title, she is the first Hispanic woman ever to hold the position in the history of the Philadelphia County Medical Society.

Long before medicine and mentorship became her world, she was born in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, and grew up helping her father with his department store in their hometown of Cayey.

After discovering her love of science, Ortiz-Torrent went for chemistry at the University of Puerto Rico in Ponce before getting accepted into medical school there.

From Ponce, she moved to the U.S. mainland and Temple University to train in its psychiatry department, which she did for four years before transitioning to consultation and being a liaison to psychiatry.

Her role now at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine is as a professor of clinical psychiatry and the medical director of consultation and liaison psychiatry. She is also president of the Society of Ibero-Latin American Medical Professionals (SILAMP), which is dedicated to opening medical education opportunities and healthcare career options for the Latin American population in the U.S., or wanting to practice in the U.S.

In a statement announcing her appointment to President of the Philadelphia County Medical Society, Ortiz-Torrent drew attention to the timing of the appointment, given her expertise and the mental toll of COVID-19 on often ignored communities across Philadelphia and the U.S.

“Never has there been such a time that the differences in healthcare outcomes between ethnic groups has been so noticeable than during this era of COV-19; Because of COVID, we are seeing an increase in suicide rates; unsafe work conditions; psychologic effects of physical isolation; economic troubles; civil unrest; and so many deaths,” she said.

In her new role, Ortiz-Torrent’s goals are to continue fighting for more representation in the field and healthcare access for underrepresented communities. She’s also made it a goal to emphasize more work balance to create healthier work environments and get those with real experience at the policy-making table.

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