Maria Melchor Guerrero practically grew up in a hospital. Her older brother has hemophilia. When he was younger their parents would take him to the hospital whenever he got hurt. Sometimes he would stay in the hospital for weeks or months at a time. Once he was hospitalized for nearly a year.
“The hospital was my home away from home. I was there so often that all of the medical staff knew me,” Maria shared. “They not only treated my brother well, they also looked after my parents and me. That inspired me to do the same, to become a doctor and to give that compassion back to others.”
Maria became interested in medicine at a young age and looked for opportunities to explore the field. She learned about the Minority Medical Mentoring Program (MMMP) when she was a freshman at Martin L. Nesbitt Discovery Academy. Once she was old enough to apply for the program, she jumped at the opportunity to shadow healthcare professionals and learn about different specialties.
Her favorite experience as an MMMP intern so far has been shadowing Dr. Bernstein in Internal Medicine at Mission Hospital. Maria particularly enjoyed sitting in on discussions in the residents’ lounge.
“They talk about the patients they see and figure out what’s going on as a group,” Maria said. “I like that. It’s neat because you get multiple opinions and perspectives, and you can build off of each other. I like to work things out that way because I like to talk a lot.”
Though she’s enjoyed all the rotations so far, Maria’s been especially looking forward to her upcoming rotation at Mission’s cardiac clinic. She hopes to one day be a cardiothoracic surgeon, a job that combines her two biggest strengths – problem solving and working with her hands. “I love the human heart. I like how simple it is but also how complex it can be,” Maria said.
Now a high school senior, Maria will head to college next year, putting her one step closer to her goal of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon. She’s hoping to go to NC State; but wherever she ends up, she’s looking forward to making the most of her time–both inside the classroom and out.