Following is an interview with Brunilda Nazario, MD, the Lead Medical Editor at WebMD. As you’ll see and read below, her journey was monumental and peppered with change. She’s convinced that ignorance and naivete kept her from questioning her ability to climb those mountains.
I’m Dr. Brunilda Nazario. I am an internist. I’m an endocrinologist. I am an obesity specialist and I’m an integrative medicine doctor and I work for web MD. I’m the lead medical director at web empty. So I think for me, the thing that has helped me navigate change is, believe it or not, I think it’s just, ignorance. And a little bit of naivety.
I come from a family of teachers and factory workers, and I honestly believed that there was better ways to do things better ways to live. We were very poor but I dreamed about things like going to the moon. And so I wanted to be the first woman that landed on the moon, but that was taken.
My mother actually wanted me to be a physician, which is okay. The thing that I wanted. But I wanted more, I wanted to see what the California coast was like. I did, I wanted to see how life could change. And so I didn’t think that anything was beyond my reach to the point where I was becoming a physician.
We lived in a very poor neighborhood and I knew that I could become a physician if I could see what they did and learned how to do it, nothing was beyond what I could do. So I kind of gained the name of a bit of a warrior. I would fake being sick when I was young so that I could go to the local hospital and see physicians. It was completely different. It was a different environment that they lived in compared to where, what I lived in and I slowly but surely kind of gained more experience, more exposure and just the desire to get out of some of the neighborhoods that we lived in.
The big change I think, in my life came, and I don’t know how personal you want me to get, that came after a couple of years in college and I was a Catholic school girl completely protected from the badness of society. And I went to one of the local colleges, city colleges in New York, and was exposed to things that I would never have been exposed to in the setting of a private Catholic all-girls school. And I failed completely failed. And I knew that that was not going to be in line with what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And I think that that straightened me out part of it.
Also the other part was I was a single mom. I actually, I was single and I became pregnant and became homeless as a result of that.
And again, that did not align with what I wanted to do. I knew that the strength that I had could pull me out of it, but I needed a little bit of help. And so I sought help from everyone. And eventually did what I needed to do. I went to Mexico and got a degree, not knowing anything about the country of Mexico, and landed in Mexico. I knew that I could get a medical degree there and get away from all the influences that I had in the States and became a physician. I came back after taking several tests that would get me into a medical school in the US and then excelled at that after I was personally introduced to the patient care I knew I wanted to figure out and help folks to get healthier.
And so I became an internist, but there were a lot of questions that remained unanswered. And to me, it was all about hormones. So I became an endocrinologist and I was seeing a lot of the epidemics of obesity and diabetes in our country, especially in minority populations, and decided that there were better ways to do things. And so from internal medicine, I went into endocrinology and thought this would be easy. I could transform people’s lives and, and cure diabetes. And it didn’t happen. And so I went into the field of obesity knowing that that was kind of at the base of many of the illnesses that our country faced, did that, and realized that again, that pharma was behind a lot of what was driving diseases, conditions, or wellness in our country. Again, thanks to my ignorance I thought this also was not working. So I looked at a more integrative approach and then did a fellowship in integrative medicine, which I’m thrilled with.
I think for me, the thing that has helped me navigate change is, believe it or not, I think it’s just ignorance and a little bit of naivety.