Embracing Culture to Inform Care – Meet DoM Endocrinologist & Director of Obesity Medicine at BMC

Meet Dr. Ivania Rizo, endocrinologist and the director of obesity medicine at BMC. She shares a bit about herself, what Hispanic Heritage Month means to her, and what she enjoys about her work.

💭 How does your upbringing impact your care?

🗣 I was born in Wisconsin to Nicaraguan parents who were studying in the U.S. We moved to Nicaragua when I was three months old, and then back to the U.S. in the middle of the Nicaraguan Revolution when it was no longer feasible to live there and prosper.

Everyone has their own story, but I think mine helps me understand people who live with economic instability and have had to adjust to multiple cultures and languages. There’s a connection between all immigrants — not just Latinos — who’ve had to pick up and restart our lives somewhere else.

💭 What does this month mean to you?

🗣 For me, Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate our diversity and appreciate all of our different foods, music, and art. As a bilingual provider, I spend half my day speaking Spanish to patients from the Dominican Republic, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and even Nicaragua. It’s fun to speak with them, learn their stories, and share our cultures. At BMC, we always provide interpreters, but when your provider can speak your language, it creates a certain amount of trust and allows patients to feel more comfortable expressing all their concerns and questions.

💭 What is your favorite part about working at BMC?

🗣 It’s great to work in a state like Massachusetts where we are able to provide the best evidence-based medicine to all people. And on top of that, BMC is an institution that works to make sure we are actually implementing that kind of care.

I’ve been at BMC for 16 years, and one thing that keeps me excited about working here is the emphasis on improving the health of Black and Latino patients. I’m excited to be the co-lead of the diabetes inequity initiative of BMC’s Health Equity Accelerator, working to improve outcomes in diabetes for our Black and Latino patients.


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