Belinda Ramirez, M.D. knew that she wanted to be a doctor as early as high school. Aside from her love of the natural sciences, she had very close relationships with her grandmothers who suffered from various ailments. The topic of conversation with her elder relatives fueled her curiosity and forged her path in medicine. She recalls “I still remember one of my grandmothers talking about her chronic abdominal discomfort… I know now that I could have helped her if she was still living today.”
The spirit and faith of her grandmothers led her to pursue her Medical Doctorate at the University of Texas at Houston. She continued her education with an internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Kentucky School of Medicine.
Dr. Ramirez then accepted a Fellowship in Gastroenterology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. Here, she chose to focus on gastroenterology over other opportunities because of the unique balance the sub-specialty offered. She recounts those early days, “As a medical resident, I had the opportunity to do flexible sigmoidoscopies. It was a nice balance seeing my patients in the clinic, and then evaluating their symptoms further through the use of endoscopic procedures.”
Today, Dr. Ramirez continues to take pleasure in her work as a gastroenterologist. When asked what she loves most about practicing medicine, she says, “Taking care of some of the nicest people one could ever meet. I often have the privilege of seeing multiple members of the same family. Right now, I can think of one mother who keeps surprising me in the office—by bringing in yet another one of her daughters!”
Dr. Ramirez feels fortunate to be part of an evolving field of medicine. For example, New treatment options are now available for patients struggling with illnesses such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, including a class of drugs referred to as biologics. In general, these drugs are used to control the immune system, as well as help to achieve and maintain remission of the disease. As a result, chronic steroid use is avoided. Hospitalizations and long-term complications are also reduced and the need for surgery is often eliminated as well. Research, however, is ongoing as there is still so much more to learn about these drugs and other newer agents.
Finally, in addition to gastroenterology, Dr. Ramirez has many other passions. When Dr. Ramirez can find some free time in her busy schedule, she squeezes in an outdoor jog or high intensity interval training—activities she also encourages for her patients.
I care for some of the nicest people one could ever meet. I often have the privilege of seeing multiple members of the same family.
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