My name is Hugo Ortega. A first generation Hispanic (Ecuadorian/Dominican) born in the US. I am the first member in my family to attend college and to become a doctor. I have always had a passion for medicine since watching TV as a young child and always wanted to make a difference in my community and help serve the underserved. I attended St John’s University where I worked as a Tutor and participated in multiple pipeline summer programs such as Montefiore’s Health Opportunities program, Summer Undergraduate Mentorship program, that fostered an interest in mentoring and education within me. I attended Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell for medical school whereas part of a summer project I got to work with migrant backstretch workers of the Belmont racetrack. We were able to spend 6 weeks in the community teaching a variety of topics based on a needs assessment such as hands only CPR, wound care, environmental emergencies, etc. We even built a community garden. That experience was very formative for me and showed me the importance of going out and working within the community in terms of making a difference and allowing for broad sweeping changes.
For residency I trained in the Montefiore Primary Care and Social Internal Medicine program at Montefiore where I got to further develop my passions for community outreach, medical education, and primary care. I was able to develop and create a 7-hour longitudinal resident-as-teacher curriculum for our primary care program utilizing Kern’s development cycle. During my time at Montefiore, I began to focus on my personal health and in the process of transition to a whole food plant-based diet I learned about Lifestyle Medicine. I felt this was a perfect extension of primary care and I wanted to bring the message along with me to future endeavors.
After completion of residency, I came back to Northwell for a General Internal Medicine fellowship to pursue a master’s in Health Professions Education. Since starting in August of 2022 I have been successful at bringing lifestyle medicine to Northwell. I have worked over the 2021 academic year to get the LMRC accepted and started across 6 residencies and 59 residents for the upcoming 2022 academic year. I have also partnered with many wonderful folks in Northwell who have an interest in Lifestyle Medicine and have help create a Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group at both the Medical School and PA schools. I hope to continue to marry my passions of medical education, health equity, community outreach, and lifestyle medicine throughout my career.