Gerardo Rodriguez, MD
Gerardo Rodriguez, MD
Academic Rank and Title
Assistant Director of East Newton SICU
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, in 1970. My parents immigrated to this country from Mexico in the late 1960s and settled in southern California. Like many Mexican immigrants of that time, my parents were children of farmers, and grew up in tough, yet family-focused homes. Along with my three younger brothers, I grew up in East Los Angeles, a part of town made up mostly of working class Mexicans and Chicanos.
I was the first member of my family to attend college and the only one to earn a professional degree. Upon graduating from high school in 1988, I attended California Polytechnic State University, where I enrolled in the electrical engineering program. However, within a year, disillusioned by my field of study, I dropped out – an unfortunate and much too common outcome for many Chicanos. I returned home, and a couple of years later, finding a new interest in the health care field, I enrolled in a technical school and earned my license in respiratory therapy.
My first job as a respiratory therapist was at the now defunct Martin Luther King-Drew Medical Center in Compton, California, one of the busiest trauma centers in the county. My experiences at Martin Luther King-Drew Medical Center led me to pursue a career as a physician because my job exposed me to the excitement of critical care management of all age groups, from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) management in adult trauma-patients, to respiratory management of acute asthma in children, to resuscitation, intubation, and ventilatory management of neonates. Eventually, I moved to northern California where I enrolled at the University of California, Davis to study nutrition science, and then to southern California where I enrolled at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
At the age of thirty, I found my transition to medical school unexpectedly arduous and nearly ill-fated. I had extreme difficulty adapting to my new educational and personal realities, partly due to not fully realizing how inherently disadvantaged my background had been, academically. At risk for academic failure during my first quarter, I reached out to my mentor and friend, Sandra Daley, M.D., now the Associate Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) at the University of California, San Diego. With her guidance and support, I learned strategies I would go on to use throughout my medical training. This formidable experience convinced me of the importance of giving mentorship and support to struggling or disadvantaged medical students.
During the latter part of my medical school training, I was most satisfied with working in the operating room and the intensive care unit (ICU). An anesthesiology residency proved to be the ideal career choice because it balanced the procedural, the technical, and the surgically-varied aspects of medicine, all while providing the opportunity to manage complex physiology in both adult and pediatric patients. Upon graduation from medical school, I completed a surgical internship at Stony Brook University Hospital in Long Island, New York, and went on to complete an anesthesiology residency at the Boston Medical Center (BMC), serving as chief resident during my final year. In 2009, I went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in critical care medicine at Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center with an intense emphasis on echocardiography for intensive care physicians/ intensivists.
Outlook on Diversity
The goal of diversity at any medical school should be aimed at creating an environment where all students and teachers can thrive, both personally and professionally. Diversity requires both an understanding of complex issues, such as race, religion, and gender, and freedom from intimidation and discrimination. Our patients are the ultimate benefactors of this diversity goal because compassion, kindness, and tolerance should be primary concerns in medicine rather than skin color, ethnicity, or personal preferences.
In 2009, I joined the faculty of anesthesiology at BMC, where I am now the Assistant Director for the East Newton Campus SICU and a staff anesthesiologist. I am involved in the training of anesthesiology residents, medical students, and student nurse anesthetists.
I continue to participate as a lecturer and hands-on instructor in echocardiography, both at the domestic and international levels, through various organizations such as the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the World Interactive Network Focused On Critical Ultrasound International (WINFOCUS), where I currently serve as the Co-director of the Latin-American arm, having now instructed courses in Spain and Mexico.
My clinical research experience here at BMC has involved conducting quality-assurance and quality-improvement projects aimed to improving patient safety in the surgical intensive care unit.
My long-term research and educational goals at BMC include patient safety initiatives and establishing a critical care medicine/anesthesiology fellowship.
I am a fitness enthusiast, regularly practicing a mix of cardio, resistance, yoga, and core exercise. I have recently taken up skiing, and I hope to expand to other outdoor sports here in New England.