Hispanic Center of Excellence


Bronx Times October 13, 2002

Charles Rivera has always had an interest in becoming a doctor.  During high school, his summer job at Our Lady of Mercy Center helped to spark that interest further.  "I got to see the interactions between the attending physicians and residents and it was very interesting" said Rivera, who will soon start his sophomore year atFordham University. 

This summer, as a participant in the Summer Undergraduate Mentorship Program offered through the Hispanic Center of Excellence at the Albert Einstien College of Medicine, the young Bronx native had further opportunity to get an inside view of the medical profession.  For six weeks, he shadowed Dr. Fernando Camacho, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at Einstein with a practice in hematology and oncology. 

"It's been an amazing experience that definitely strengthened my interest in medicine." said Rivera.  “There was so much to learn. I saw how important the relation a doctor has with his patients is, and how tough the job can be, especially when you have to share difficult news with a patient." 

While shadowing Dr. Camacho at his offices on E. 208th Street, Rivera would jot down questions, which he and Dr. Camacho would discuss later. 

"Charles is extremely interested in learning so he has made my job as his mentor very easy," said Dr. Camacho, who previously served as director of Minority Students Affairs at Einstein and has been mentor to minority students like Rivera through similar summer programs that the medical school has offered in the past. 

A native of Cuba, Dr. Camacho arrived in the United States as a teenager.  He set his sights on becoming a doctor at age of five, when his father said that he wanted on of his sons (Camacho has two brothers) to become a doctor.  Eager to please, Camacho offered then and there that is what he would be him. 

While he enjoys his work, interacting with patients and finding ways to help them to feel better, he also loves teaching and notes that the mentorship program offers him an excellent opportunity to both teach and give back to the Hispanic community. 

"I enjoy working with students, helping them to work out their feelings and goals as well as to develop professionally." Said Dr. Camacho, "Some get that special spark, like what Charles has shown, igniting their interest further.  Others realize medicine isn't the environment they want.  Either way, if it helps them to sort out their goals, it's a useful experience." 

"In addition to rasing the awareness of further potential scientists and physicians to opportunities that exist for them, our center will be involved in teaching medical students and practitioners about the varying cultural attitudes that they may encounter not only among Hispanic patients, but among all patients from diverse backgrounds," said Dr. Correa, co-director of Einstein's Hispanic Center of Excellence. 

During his six-week period observing Dr. Camacho, Charles Rivera saw first hand how valuable such sensitivity could be.  "His sensitivity to their needs really put them at ease and you could see there was a special bond between Dr. Camacho and his patients.  It was very inspiring to see." 

Click here to log in