Fourth-year medical student Frinny Polanco is closing in on her dream of becoming a primary care physician to serve minority and underprivileged neighborhoods. The recipient of a prestigious Aetna Foundation/National Fellowships scholarship for minority students who show promise in the field of medicine at a young age, Ms. Polanco’s interest in medicine was sparked as a child who witnessed health care disparities in her native Dominican Republic. She came to the U.S. at the age of 10 and went on to graduate from Brown University with an undergraduate degree in community health. She then served as a public policy fellow with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington D.C., where she worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health and Resource Services Administration and the National Hispanic Medical Association, followed by a two-year Intramural Research Training Award Fellowship at the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., investigating the decision-making of HIV-infected Hispanic and African-American patients in clinical trials. On campus Ms. Polanco has been a community outreach coordinator for the NYMC student-run clinic, La Casita de la Salud, in the East Harlem community, serving a patient population principally of uninsured and economically disadvantaged patients and a volunteer at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center and a local juvenile detention center. She is an appointed student member for the College’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, a member of the Student Senate, co-president of the campus chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, and has served as president of the campus chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association.
Do you remember your first day of medical school? What memory stands out the most?
On my first day of medical school I remember feeling very excited about finally starting my journey of becoming a doctor. I was also nervous because I had been out of school for three years and I wasn’t sure how quickly I was going to adapt to the amount of work and be able to balance everything.
You’re stranded on a desert island. What three things would you take?
1) Stereo system and salsa music
2) Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist
3) My husband. I know he is not a thing but life is so much better when he is around.
What is your best piece of advice to give to a child?
Do not take for granted the opportunities this country offers and stay in school!
Is there any faculty/staff “mentor” member that has really stood out to you?
I feel very privileged to attend an institution with numerous faculty members who serve as mentors. One who stands out is Dean Elliott Perla. He goes above and beyond his role as associate dean for student affairs. He gives sound advice, fights for the students and is always there for us when we need support. He is hard-working, honest, caring and an overall amazing human being. New York Medical College is very lucky to have him and we are very blessed to know him.
What talent would you love to have?
I would love to sing. I used to stand in front of a mirror using a hair brush as a microphone and sing my favorite songs.
What is your theme song? Why?
My theme song is “Vivir mi Vida” (To Live my Life) by Marc Anthony. This song reminds me to always look forward in life and remember that my struggles made me who I am and only made me stronger. You should listen to it and if you don’t understand the song, translate the lyrics and then step forward with the left foot, bring it to the middle, step back with the right foot and enjoy the song!
How do you balance your personal time with medical school?
The things I do in my personal time actually add to my medical school experience because those activities are refreshing and motivate me even more to become the best doctor I want to become. I think it’s important to make time for enjoyment to prevent getting stressed out from all of the studying.
What do you daydream about?
I daydream about being the Surgeon General of the United States of America. I want to have a say and influence the way that healthcare is delivered in this country, particularly in regards to underserved communities.
What advice do you have for new applicants considering a career in medicine?
If you dream about becoming a doctor, follow your dream. I have only been in the medical field for three and a half years and I love it. It is not easy but that is one of the things that makes it exciting. I have enjoyed every minute of medical school even on those days when I struggled because I knew that there was a light at the end of the tunnel and because I made great friends along the way.
Page updated: December 6, 2013