Gabriel A. Saez, is a fourth year medical student at the Pacific Northwest University of Health Science – College of Osteopathic Medicine, lives in Washington State, and is the recipient of the Scholarship To Support Students from Historically Underrepresented Groups and the Washington Osteopathic Foundation scholarship.
Jeanne Rupert, DO Ph.D. told us this about Gabe, “He is a natural leader among the students based on his experience, but also his personal qualities. He has the perfect integrity which I find essential to a good physician. He is bright, well-spoken, and considerate of others. He has demonstrated to me his ongoing commitment to increasing his knowledge and to an osteopathic approach to patient care.
“Gabe looks out for his classmates and makes sure they have opportunities to connect with one another by organizing fun social time. He treats everyone with respect and looks for common ground.
“Gabe is a great example of the locally recruited and locally educated osteopathic physician we are all working to provide to our communities.”
Gabe himself told us why this chosen career is so important to him, “The greatest disparity I have seen in medicine based on social determinates of health was when serving as a medical missionary in rural Guatemala. During this experience, I exclusively treated indigenous Mayan people in makeshift clinics based out of Christian orphanages and schools. These are people from a country with an economy devastated by civil war and propped up by the drug cartel and sex trafficking to the demand of the United States.
The hospitals, which would be condemned by our standards, are stocked with medical supplies only long enough for the politicians to get in some pictures for the local media before relocating them to the next photo op. There are no food banks. There are no EBT cards, food stamps, WIC program, unemployment insurance, or L&I. There are no free cell phones or subsidized housing. There is no free lunch at the public school because there are no schools except for those provided by the missionaries.
Every morning the children of these mission schools walk for many hours in the dark before sunrise to get to school where they are given an education and a lunch, which for many is their only meal of the day. They would be lucky to drink clean water and go without a parasite infestation.
With no resources available, this is the kind of pioneer medicine that Andrew Taylor Still dealt with over one hundred years ago when he founded Osteopathic medicine. I see myself as an osteopathic physician continuing to better the healthcare outcomes of these people by supporting and volunteering for this medical mission and bringing my own team of student doctors and nurses to serve and support this community’s healthcare needs.
The mission’s purpose is to heal this indigenous community by a holistic approach that goes beyond traditional healthcare by providing education through building schools, supporting healthy communities by planting churches, and giving them hope through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Gabe, the Foundation is so proud of the work that you’ve done and will do in the future. We are excited to watch your career unfold. Job well done.