Author: Wilbert Cruz | Category: Final Words... | August 19, 2015
Congratulations Dr. Wilbert Cruz, the first graduate of the new Doctor of Medical Physics program, on achieving your goals.
Tell me about
yourself, why did you pick UT Health Science Center and the Doctor of Medical Physics program?
It was all by chance that I ended up here at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. I
happened to contact Loretta Edwards, the academic programs coordinator of the Doctor of Medical Physics program (DMP), and she said she knew of a
professor that might want a student.
Soon after that I was contacted by Dr. Carlos Esquivel and he accepted me at that time. Before this fateful day, I was
a cook after working my way up from dishwasher. I had previously studied
culinary arts and decided that it was not going to lead me to where I wanted to
go so I decided to try physics.
In undergrad I learned of medical physics from
one of my professors, Dr. Dorina Chipara. To this day, when I visit I thank her for
pointing me in this direction. I was originally in for the master’s degree but
as the DMP was going to take off I was offered the opportunity to start the
program which, of course, I gladly accepted.
In your own words,
what is the DMP program and why were you so drawn to it?
The Doctor of Medical Physics program is a clinically focused degree with a minor
component of research.
Whereas the Medical Physics doctorate program (Ph.D.) offered at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio prepares the students for a research career in medical physics, the DMP is a professional degree that prepares the students for a clinical career in the either imaging or therapeutic medical physics.
When I first came in I did not know that the DMP was
in the works. It just so happened that I was able to join in once the program
was approved. It consists of two years of classroom study followed by two years
I would definitely recommend the program to anybody who is seeking rigorous classroom and clinical training. The program is very well structured and one can receive personal attention from the professors if they want.
What are your future
career goals and how has the program helped you with those goals?
My goal is to become an active member of the medical physics
community and I was hired soon after I finished the program. I credit the
degree and the faculty with that.
The intensive training we receive at the
program prepares us for the challenges of the job and helps us to realize our
When did you realize
you were interested in medical physics?
At first, I was interested in the imaging medical physics
track but then I learned about therapeutic track and thought that I might fit
in better there.
I guess my first exposure to the health field was because I
attended a high school geared towards medicine and it just seemed like a proper
degree for me to pursue.
I never thought I’d end up in medicine, despite my
background, and yet here I am. It certainly feels like the impact the South Texas High School for Health Professions had on me then pointed me in this
direction so many years later. As far as medical physics is concerned, I think I
became interested in it as soon as I found out about it.
It just seemed like
the perfect mesh of the sciences and that is something that I have always been
Why are you
passionate about medical physics?
Cancer is one of the scourges of human history. Medical
physics gives me the opportunity to help individuals during these trying times.
I know you are the
first graduate of the program, how do you feel about that?
Being the first graduate is a great honor for me. It really
is a trip to be honest; I never would have guessed that I would be the first
graduate of the program.
I hold the responsibility
very high and want to set a high standard for the other students.
Now that I am
in the field, I must ensure that I represent The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio by maintaining or exceeding
the same high standards that were expected of me during the program.
All in all, I take my degree very seriously and being the first graduate lends both great
pride and responsibility that I must uphold.
What were your
favorite aspects about the program (hands on experience- internships—faculty,
The program is great but I must say that I miss the people
the most. I am now in Houston and I very dearly miss the great friends I made
throughout this journey, both students and professors.
We have had some great
times over the years, many great times, and I will cherish those memories for
my lifetime. Seeing the professors acting differently as you progress and
noticing the relationships between mentor and student change to colleagues is
Although to be honest, and don’t tell the profs this, but I’ll
always look at them as mentors. Of course, now I can bust their chops and not
have it be awkward.
I would like to give a shout out to my boy, Dr. Angelo Bergamo. Two years a resident! He knows what that means.
What were some
challenges that you faced during your time at school?
My family is my foundation. They are the reason for
my success. It was extremely challenging because my wife stayed behind in the
Rio Grande Valley to work and raise our two children or as we call them our
I would only get to visit them about once a month for four years, and
yet through all this they supported me and encouraged me.
I owe them for all
they sacrificed in order for me to achieve this great goal and I intend to give
them a better life as a result of this success.
All the challenges are
manageable, just need to remember to remain steadfast.
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