Dr. Bravo Nuevo Inspires Hispanic Medical Students at PCOM
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If He Won the Lottery Tomorrow, He'd Still Come To Work Every Day 
Hispanic Heritage Month

September 22, 2023

Professional headshot photograph of PCOM faculty Arturo Bravo Nuevo, PhDFrom humble beginnings – washing dishes for $4 an hour – Arturo Bravo Nuevo, PhD, eventually got his big break. Born in Spain, he moved to New Zealand and then Australia – where he volunteered in a research lab by day and washed dishes by night.

“I was very poor,” he shared. “I was sitting at the soup kitchen every day and living in a house with eleven guys and just one bathroom.”

After a year of lab work without pay, his principal investigator became increasingly interested in Bravo Nuevo's life goals. 

“He asked me about my situation, and I told him I was there illegally,” Bravo Nuevo shared. “He then offered me a scholarship to get my PhD and money so I didn't have to wash dishes anymore. He changed my life”.

Now, his approach to teaching is guided by those experiences as he works to create opportunities for all students, especially those of Hispanic and Latino descent.

Dr. Bravo Nuevo smiles with a group of PCOM research students as they present their research posters“The United States is a race of hurdles, and we need to establish a system to help Hispanic students jump over them,” he said.

Acknowledging the rigorous steps to get to medical school, he believes it may be difficult for students who have nobody guiding them through the process.

“You need someone to teach you how to write an essay to get into college, how to apply for financial aid, how to take the MCAT. Then, you need money to apply,” he explained. 

“All of those hurdles are set up in a way that helps people from a higher economic background. We need to make medical school something that isn't as hard as reaching the moon for Hispanic students.”

Bringing important lessons to PCOM, one of his proudest moments was helping create the Medical Spanish course. The class gives Spanish-speaking medical students key phrases to use when interacting with patients. With 57 million Spanish speakers in the country, even a few sentences could help improve a medical interaction.

“It can be stressful,” he said. “Even now, when I'm working in an environment where everyone is an English speaker, I know that once they hear my accent their attitude may change.” 

Dr. Bravo Nuevo works with latino graduate students in a PCOM research lab“If you can put people at ease by speaking their language, you help them become more open to talking with you.”

Thinking ahead, Bravo Nuevo will continue his important research and hopes to slow the progression of blindness. In addition, teaching also remains a top priority and something he could never be persuaded to give up.

“Honestly, if I won the lottery tomorrow – like Mega Millions, I would still come to work every day,” he said.

“I love teaching, I love the students, I love the diversity of PCOM. It's the perfect job for me.”

From September 15 to October 15, PCOM joins others around the country in observing Hispanic Heritage Month. This important celebration honors the histories, cultures and contributions of Hispanics and Latinos everywhere. At PCOM, we recognize our faculty, students and staff who identify as Hispanic or Latino and will highlight their stories throughout the month.

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