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Spotlight: Daniel Reyes, MD, MA


Daniel Reyes, MD, MA

I am a California native! I grew up in Los Angeles, but then found myself in the San Francisco Bay Area for college at the University of California, Berkeley, and found it much more my style. At Berkeley, I found a unique opportunity to teach a class, which inspired a bit of a detour professionally toward education.

I became a high school science teacher, working at a few different high schools in the East Bay over the course of a decade. During this time, I also received a master's degree in teacher leadership from Saint Mary's College of California, where I studied ways to best integrate personal devices into my classroom. Sensing I had achieved much of what I set out to in the classroom, I decided to return to my original goal of medicine, so I moved east to New Jersey to attend Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. While at RWJMS, I was active in curriculum development for the medical school, as well as with the student-run clinic exclusively for the uninsured, primarily Spanish-speaking immigrant patients of our community. I am thrilled to now be here in Chicago, working within and for this community toward better health outcomes!

What or who inspired you to pursue a career in medicine?

I had severe asthma as a child and was frequently with pediatricians who always made me feel at ease. I loved going to the doctor's office, where the waiting room was adorned with toys, comic books and an aquarium. I thought then that I would want to do this for others one day too. As I got older, I realized our health care system leaves certain populations out of decision-making, erecting barriers to their care. Much as it was when I was a teacher, my professional goals now center on bringing down those barriers, particularly for vulnerable populations.

What advice would you give someone who is considering medicine?

This line of work is simultaneously rewarding, frustrating, fulfilling and exhausting. Any one setback will make you doubt your intentions, but it is essential to remember a couple of things: 1) you are needed and 2) representation matters. As a person of color, specifically a Spanish-speaking Latino who is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community, the look on a patient's face or the change in their demeanor when they realize they can identify themselves in their provider, in their caretaker ... it's a priceless feeling that no bad day on the wards or low score on a board exam will ever take away. Keep it up and see through the tough times. I promise you won't regret it!

What are some of the community initiatives you have been involved in or currently working on at RUSH?

I am trying to keep my head above water during intern year! But in addition to that, I am currently focused on increasing our outreach to URM and LGBTQ+ medical students as a means of recruitment to the RUSH EM residency. I am also beginning to discover the many vital roles available to me within the RUSH House staff DEI Committee. I'm looking forward to taking a more active role in the near future.

Would you please tell us a fun fact about yourself?

Since I was young, I have spent most of my free time in the pool, swimming or playing water polo. I have traveled across the country and around the world to play water polo, representing several teams over many years. I have traveled to five of the six inhabited continents, playing in tournaments on four of those. Doing so has allowed me to not only travel to far reaches of the Earth but also to form relationships with people in each of these places, which has been one of my more enriching life experiences.

Anything else that you would like to share?

I love mentoring! I am always willing to provide an ear or shoulder to lean on!