Ernie Rodriguez, M.B.A., worked at a bank to put himself through college and earned a degree in public administration. The day before graduation, he had a life-changing thought. “Why not medical school?”
The why nots were plentiful for Rodriguez, a child of immigrants who was the first in his family to earn a college degree. He already had a job and was about to start an MBA program. Rodriguez had always been interested in health care, he said, but he didn’t have the proper guidance in high school or college to pursue it. He plunged ahead anyway. “It doesn’t matter your upbringing or your age,” said Rodriguez, 35, a third-year student at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara School of Medicine in Guadalajara, Mexico. “If you want to be a doctor, pursue your dreams. Don’t have ‘what if’ moments. Open the doors to opportunity for yourself.”
After earning his undergraduate degree from the University of La Verne in California in 2011, Rodriguez worked in banking and later insurance while also pursuing his M.B.A. In 2012, he started a postbaccalaureate program at the Southern California University of Health Sciences to prepare for med school.
Rodriguez said his M.B.A. and business experience will help him in health care. “I plan to go into private practice,” he said. “With an M.B.A., I can manage my own team. It taught me leadership skills and the fundamentals of running a business.” Rodriguez already is putting those skills to use in medical school. Last fall he started a family medicine interest group at his school, work that included launching a website and newsletter for the FMIG and developing a peer mentorship program. The FMIG held 35 events in its first year, covering topics like mental health, advance directives and writing a curriculum vitae, as well as numerous clinical skills workshops.
“We started with roughly 45 members,” he said. “We have more than 100 members now. We’re getting donations from both sides of the border to support our philanthropic work. I’m running the FMIG like if it was a business.”
The Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara was honored as one of the overall winners in the FMIG Program of Excellence Awards July 28-30 during the National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students in Kansas City, Mo.