May Physician Spotlight: Renata Prado, MD

Renata Prado, MD

Who or what inspired you to become a physician?

I don’t remember when I made that decision in my life. I believe that being a physician has been with me since childhood. It is to me more than a career choice. It is a calling. One of my earliest memories is being fascinated by the anatomy pages of our Britannica Encyclopedia, Vol 2. The pages were transparent, and you had one system per page, and together they would form the human body. I must have read those pages a million times before I was 5 years old when I didn’t even really know how to read. I also remember always wanting to help to take care of wounds or people who were ill. My dolls and my brother (who managed to get quite a few stitches in his childhood) were my first patients. Finally, in high school, I absolutely loved all sciences. When we had a chance to dissect a pig in AP Biology (thank you to my teacher, Mrs. Chappell), and I got to see the miracle of the organs that allow us to live, not just on pages of a book, but in real life, I had no question that I was going to become a physician.

Briefly describe a "peak experience" from your career: interaction with a mentor, memorable patient, etc.

Three months of my internship was in a rural city in Brazil. It was a time of tremendous growth as a young physician, and exponential learning. Everything we had learned up to this point was finally coming together and put into practice in real life. I remember bringing a suitcase full of heavy books to this town, and we studied so hard (this is before the internet…). However, during those three months, I learned so much more than medicine. We took care of hundreds of people in a rural community, from newborns to elderly. At times, we had to travel through unpaved roads to reach the patients. The community had such gratitude for the little that we had to offer them. They had so much joy and happiness, even though they had a life of hardship. They had an incredible sense of community and families were large and close. There was a lot of gratefulness for each day and each blessing. It was an incredible experience, that elevated me as a physician and a human being.

What led you to become involved in El Paso County Medical Society?

I joined the El Paso County Medical Society as soon as I moved to Colorado Springs, 8 years ago. My colleagues at Vanguard Skin Specialists were members and encouraged me to join. I believe physicians are better for their patients when they work together, collaborate with each other, and support and help one another.

What advice would you give to physicians-in-training who are just starting their careers?

I recommend joining a practice or a group that aligns with your values and your principles, and to continue to pursue meaning in yourcareer. In the book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Viktor Frankl recounts his experiences surviving the Holocaust and describes how our primary motivation to live is to have a meaningful life, and a life with purpose. Experiencing a concentration camp himself, he noted, as a psychiatrist, how a strong sense of meaning made a difference in survival of prisoners. Along these lines, in April last year, Dr. Chung gave an excellent talk at EPMS called “Finding Joy in Medicine,” when he talked about pursuing meaning in medicine. Early this year, Drs. Robert Lam & Markus Hannan gave a talk at EPMS called “Moral Recovery When Your Clinical Practice Creates Moral Injury,” in which they talked about burnout in physicians being a symptom of moral injury that is created when you are faced with decisions and circumstances that do not align with your moral values. These are major problems that affect new and experienced physicians alike, and have tremendous impact in our patient’s care, as well as our own lives. The message of pursuing meaning in your career is such a powerful one, but something that is not discussed in medical school. My advice to young physicians is: reflect upon your purpose and your meaning. Then, when you join a group, just as important as asking about hours, salary, and benefits, ensure that the mission and the values of that practice are aligned with yours. If you are building your own practice (which, unfortunately, less physicians are able to do now a days), build it with a strong sense of values that you believe in and attract similar minded individuals to join you. We spend most of our hours being physicians, and when we can have synergism of our personal life values and our work, we find fulfillment on each day.

What do you enjoy doing outside of medicine?

My main joy outside of medicine is my boys. I am a mom of a 13- and a 10-year-old, and they are the meaning of my life. Our family loves to travel, bike, and ski.

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