An Admirable Journey

It’s said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Anyone who studies in the field of medicine knows this saying is all too true, but for Cuban native Germinal Nunez, M.D., this saying took on a more literal meaning.

In the late 1970s, Dr. Nunez, was an international resident physician who completed his internal medicine residency program back when Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) El Paso was a Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC).

Irma Estrada, R.N., a faculty associate who works in the TTUHSC Paul L. Foster School of Medicine Department of Medical Education, remembers the RAHC-era well. While working as a nurse at R.E. Thomason General Hospital – now known as University Medical Center (UMC) of El Paso – Estrada recalled working with Dr. Nunez. Estrada said that he and the other international physicians overcame many obstacles and worked hard during their residency program. But something stood out about Dr. Nunez “He led the charge. He made sure every patient was taken care of and he did it in such a beautiful way. He really cared about the patients,” she said. “I admired him incredibly.”

NunezDr. Nunez had a successful career practicing medicine in El Paso and is now retired and living in Florida. Yet his journey, which began decades ago, continues to impact his family.

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 3.28.31 PMPaul L. Foster School of Medicine third-year medical student Victoria Nunez is working towards a career in primary care – just like her grandfather, Dr. Nunez. Nunez says that her grandfather is a major influence in her life. “I think my grandfather and his peers deserve so much credit for paving the way.”

Prior to enrolling in medical school, Nunez graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and earned a master’s degree in medical sciences from the University of North Texas Health Science Center. “I love the Hispanic population, so I would like to stay here on the border and help as many as I can, but I know it’s not entirely my call,” she said.

Nunez will begin the interview process for residency this coming year, which entails interviewing at different institutions and being selected by one of the programs – which will determine where she resides during her residency. She’s decided to do her residency in family medicine so she can help people of all ages. Although she would like to stay in El Paso, she realizes there are people everywhere in need of medical care, which makes it easier to move if necessary.

Nunez’s residency may take her away from El Paso, but her impact will be felt years from now. She is one of the four founders of the PLFSOM Student Run Clinic in Sparks, Socorro. “I am very grateful to be part of this school, surrounded by classmates and professors who set good examples of volunteerism,” she said. “Our school does a great job of promoting philanthropy and good will to others in our community. The student run clinic is a great example of that.” While working at the clinic, she said seeing professors and others dedicating their own time to help others reinforced her desire to work in the medical field. “I am motivated to continuing working in underserved areas after witnessing first-hand the difference we can make,” she said.

Years ago, Dr. Nunez made a decision to journey to America and become a physician, which not only impacted the lives of each person he cared for, but also mapped a path for his granddaughter’s journey. As for Nunez’s adventure, she is guided by her grandfather’s choices and is creating new routes for others to follow.