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Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Cristina Martinez

In our alumni spotlight we aim to emphasize the residency experience and pathways our graduates have taken after Highland. We've got an incredibly inspiring community of grads distributed across the globe, each with a unique story of career and personal development. This month is featuring Dr. Cristina Martinez, Class of 2015!

Where are you currently working and how did you choose that institution?

What is great about training at HGH is that we have the opportunity to work in such different settings. After each rotation I thought about what I liked or disliked about each institution to help me figure out what I wanted in my future career. This helped me realize that while I loved teaching and academics, I was more drawn to community medicine. In my last year I was moonlighting in Ukiah and I really liked working in a small community ER. Finally, when I was looking for a job I realized I wanted two things. I wanted to work in an independent democratic ER group and I wanted to work in an underserved community where I could have the opportunity to do more of the community outreach that I missed. I am so happy to have found this in Salinas. I work in a small community hospital which serves a large migrant farm-working population. This is very similar to my own upbringing so I feel very connected to the community here. I work with a great group of physicians who share similar goals of improving patient care, access to healthcare and to keep up to date with new treatments. In addition to being a STEMI and stroke center we are the tertiary center for even smaller ER’s in the more rural parts of Monterey County. Another reason I enjoy working here is that I feel challenged. Even though we have a small ER, we have a very high volume and get a lot of complicated critically ill patients including very sick pediatric patients. Initially when I was looking for a place to work I wasn’t sure about how I felt working in an ER that was not a designated trauma receiving center. I now realize that I prefer medically complicated and critically ill patients over seeing a large volume of trauma. We do get a fair share of walk in trauma and I still get to do a lot of procedures, so fortunately I found a place with a good mix. I highly recommend moonlighting at a place that might be what you are looking for in your career or a place that is very different from Kaiser or HGH to help you really figure out the type of setting you prefer.

What is your favorite Highland memory?

There are so many, but I have to say that my first memory of highland is still one of my favorites - our intern welcome when we received our hoodie! That is when I knew I chose the right place because I got my first glimpse at how unique, crazy and awesome Highland is.

If you could go back and work a shift at Highland, which side would you choose? Who would be your attending and why?

Side A because I like the high acuity and fast pace. I would want to work with Dr. Garrick because she is fun, challenging and I always learned so much from her. I love how she really gets to know her patients, she is a great patient advocate, and she is so thorough yet can move so fast!! She is a wonderful mentor and total boss lady--there is no question who is in charge when Dr. Garrick is there. I truly appreciated learning how to approach and deal with difficult consultants or patients from her, and how to take command of a chaotic code efficiently, calmly and respectfully. Plus now I think I can actually keep up with her!

What are you looking forward to in the next 5 years of your career and personal life?

This year has been wonderful because I have been able to finally expand my work outside of the ER and hospital. I became the Medical Director for Monterey County SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) and I have really enjoyed taking on this position and working with the DA and investigators to improve our care for these patients during and after these traumatic events. I am also working with a student to start a small monthly free clinic for the homeless population in Salinas which we plan to finally get underway in September. In the next few months I will also be starting to give community health lectures to the distant rural areas in the county and provide health screenings for the migrant farm-working community, many of who are undocumented workers. This is an area of work that I really look forward to continue to expand within my career.

With regard to long-term goals, I’m currently part of the critical care committee for our hospital, but I am looking forward to taking on more of a leadership role within my group. I’m also excited that our ER ultrasound program should be off the ground within a year and I will be co-director of the program.

As for my personal life, I am happy to share that I just bought a house and looking forward to finishing up repairs so I can start building my garden. I am also excited to start traveling and backpacking again and now that I am settled I can’t wait to get a dog or two in the near future.

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