October 11, 2023

Warrior spotlight celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month: Meet M.D.-Ph.D. student Rafael Ramos

Rafael Ramos is a first-generation Mexican-American enrolled in the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s M.D.-Ph.D. program. He was born in the United States and grew up in Mexico. He moved back to his birth country for higher education, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree before moving to Detroit in the late 2010s. Ramos has completed his first two years of medical school, and is in his third year of the doctoral portion of his degrees. He is a candidate in Biomedical Engineering, funded by the Detroit Cardiovascular Training Program T32 grant hosted by the Department of Physiology. He also received a Michigan Space Grant Consortium Graduate Fellowship earlier this year.

Question: Why did you choose Wayne State University for your medical and doctoral degrees?

Answer: Having grown up in Mexico City, I wanted to receive my M.D. training in an urban environment, and Detroit seemed like an ideal fit after living in some smaller cities in upstate New York for college. For the M.D.-Ph.D. program specifically, the fact that I could train as an M.D. and get my Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, a program flexibility when compared to other schools, made the decision easier.

Q: Why is celebrating and recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month important to you?

Rafael Ramos, far right, with NAMS student coalition members at the 2023 LMSA National Conference, with Dr. Pilar Ortega, current Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

A: Coming from a hard-working and driven Mexican family, dates like Hispanic Heritage Month are a nice reminder of where I come from since I am proud to be bi-national and bilingual – a nice bonus that I’m training to be dual-degree as well. I have made it a point to actively work on becoming versed and competent in both English and Spanish regarding both my medical and doctoral training as a result, and hope to keep this aspect of my identity present during the remainder of my training and beyond.

Rafael Ramos, at left, works on a project for the Day of the Dead at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Q: What is your favorite part of the Warrior M.D. community?

A: It offers a very nice blend of high-level research and collaboration potential, and the solid links to giving back to the city of Detroit through a number of student and professional organizations. The M.D.-Ph.D. student community has also given me some of my strongest professional and personal friendships, and I’m grateful to be part of such a wonderful community.

Q: What extracurricular activities are you involved with?

A: I’m happy and privileged that I’ve been able to stay involved with the School of Medicine’s Latin Medical Student Association chapter, helping with the Amigos Medicos clinic, and in the development of Spanish-language patient education resources for other clinics. I hope to stay involved with this group for as long as my time at Wayne allows.

I’m also happy that I’ve found ways to build links with our chapter, the Center for Latin American studies on main campus, and a plethora of community organizations that help the Spanish-speaking populations of the metropolitan Detroit area, especially in southwest Detroit.

Outside of Wayne State, I serve as Research and Analytics director for the LMSA National Board, a student leader for the National Association of Medical Spanish student coalition board and as a student liaison for the Medical Organization for Latino Advancement. These organizations have provided an amazing avenue to collaborate and learn from Latino/Hispanic/Spanish-origin physicians across the U.S. and have allowed me the opportunity to share many of the resources offered by these organization to members of the Wayne State community, and serve as a wonderful reinforcement to strive to finish my degree since I get to know so many inspirational people.

I’m grateful that I’ve also been able to become better acquainted with professional organizations on the biomedical engineering side, such as the Society for Biomaterials and the LatinX in BME professional group. I’m also very happily involved with the Aesculapians Honor Society, and have been involved in the Lampoon fundraising event for a few years.

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