By Ronny Aquinin, MD.
“…I was born in Caracas, Venezuela to a beautiful family. My upbringing was most enviable for many reasons. I was part of a beautiful, tight-knit community that shared with me and my family all joyous and sad occasions up to the present. I was blessed to have had the privilege of two precious role models in my life – my parents. - I clearly remember how this profession would go on to choose me at the early age of three or four. At a time when my older brother would play with the typical toys, I was already holding onto my stethoscope. In retrospect, I have been blessed with avoiding the need to choose a career, amongst the confusion that our society is currently living in.
My mother’s life would unfortunately be interrupted at a young age with the diagnosis of breast cancer. Although I was young at the time, this experience helped shape the physician that I am today. I experienced firsthand the trials and tribulations of this disease. I experienced the nausea, the tears, and the hair loss. We were forced to relocate to find optimal treatment for my mother. Our journey took us north to Canada, and then west to California. She became enrolled in the clinical trials of the latest drugs in hopes that we would see her live through this long and exhausting disease. My mother passed away at the early age of forty-four.
I had begun to make notes in the doctoring that my mother became exposed to. We went from the world’s best and most obnoxious oncologist to the most reserved and kind spirited physician. I underline the latter-mentioned attributes as I would choose to hang on to this style of practice to this very day. I fought with myself; my desire to heal would wane due to my suffering, but somewhere along the line this suffering became the catalyst in rekindling my life’s calling.
Following the advice of my courageous father, I decided to attend Yeshiva University in New York to seek an undergraduate degree. A dual curriculum, both in Secular and Judaic Studies, would help reinforce the humanistic lessons of my parents. Throughout my college career I was involved in cell biology research with a focus on cell signaling on breast cancer cells, culminating in the publication of articles in associated peer reviewed literature. Following the recommendation of the faculty, the degree of Bachelor of Arts CUM LAUDE in the field of Biology and Art, was conferred upon me on January 1999.
My medical degree was later awarded from the Universidad Central del Caribe in San Juan, Puerto Rico with a MAGNA CUM LAUDE mention. The process of choosing a specialty was quite special for me as I knew that I loved the intricacies of disease afflicting the elderly population, but at the same time I very much enjoyed the pediatric population. Almost in a godly manner I was led to the doors of Staten Island Hospital-SUNY Downstate Medical Center, where I was offered a position as an Internal Medicine-Pediatrics resident.
Residency further served to confirm the style of practice that I lead today. I had the privilege to have been taught by world leaders in the fields above mentioned; however, I was most impressed with few who perhaps lacked the adornments of world recognition but thrived in their humanity. Physicians who at all times acknowledged their limited materialization of a godly mastered plan. Physicians who at all times were kind to the patients and to their relatives. Human beings who never forgot that they were addressing a distressed fellow member of the community. What I most enjoyed about residency were the infamously dreaded family meetings. Small rooms adjacent to the ICUs where the most important of all conversations would happen in the shaping of my career. Conversations where all eyes were focused on me, in search of answers or options which were unfortunately no longer available. I learned then how to share in their pain as I had but a few years before with my own. I remember then the difficulty in keeping that professional distance; and failing so miserably to do so. Excelling in the humanity of Medicine was my priority; and it was declared so by the Arnold P Gold Humanism in Medicine Foundation Award conferred upon me in 2006. My dedication to my profession was further reaffirmed as I was offered the position of Chief Resident for the Internal Medicine- Pediatrics Department on my last year of training.
My carefully planned routine would too divert again, as I met the woman that would once again change my life. I clearly remember the day that I walked into my then-mother-in-law-to-be and realized the striking similarities between her household and the home that I grew up in. Lisa and I married in 2004 and are now the proud parents of three beautiful children. Upon graduation we chose to relocate to Miami, Florida.
I was lucky enough to have landed a job with a friend/mentor who would teach me the intricacies of the business of medicine. I had left residency with the desire to continue to provide care and guidance to families who were afflicted by terminal conditions. My employer was instrumental in introducing me to the world of hospice care.
Although our business affiliation would conclude after a year, the introduction to the world of palliative medicine became an indelible expression of my now considered daily practice. I have been serving as Medical Director for our Nation's number one Hospice services provider for the last three years.
I have been exposed to many different styles of practices in the medical community, and they all helped shape my current practice internal medicine. My approach is certainly most replicated by the European and South American Model. Every patient is a life altering experience, and hence he or she is treated as such. Every encounter begins in my private office; and it ends in such, after having jointly visited any of the exam rooms. Respect for everyone’s time is of utmost priority and as such I vow to never disrespect my patients by violating their allotted scheduled appointment.
Great care was taken in making sure that my office replicates the serenity that you would feel in any world class spa. My staff is as diligent in carrying on this message as I am and I, together with them, invite you to join me in helping you take charge of your most important asset: YOUR HEALTH..”
Ronny Aquinin, MD