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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Diversity & Inclusion

Alumni Column: Juan Bautista, '11 MD

Juan Baptista, MD
Juan Bautista and Family

Having two children during medical school was truly a blessing. To this day, I often am asked how I was able to balance both school and home life. I always answer with the same response, saying I don’t know how people get through it without kids. My oldest son, Juan Andreas, is now in eighth grade, my middle son, Titus, is a fifth grader, and a new addition, Benicio, “Benny” for short, just celebrated his first birthday. The same lessons that helped us grow as a family while at Feinberg hold true in this new chapter of our lives. I can honestly say that my medical education was the second most important thing learned at Feinberg. Becoming a father was by far the most precious contribution to my education, and being a parent is helping me now as a physician in ways beyond measure.

When my eldest son started kindergarten, he was incredibly nervous, and the policy of the school was to not allow parents inside the classroom on the first day. This was indeed a rite of passage. Kneeling down, I kissed his head and wished him luck. He was so excited to begin school, yet when the time arrived, he had doubts, butterflies in his tummy, and maybe even cried. Sound familiar? We can all remember starting M1 year, rotations, internship, starting a practice. Although those feelings are normal to have, it took a five-year-old boy to teach me this. I told him I was scared, too, when I started school just two weeks before at Feinberg. The same occurred when starting my practice and although doubts and butterflies were present, I was prepared and ready when the opportunity arose.

My son Titus is by far the charmer and athlete of my boys. He does very well in most everything he does, but struggles a bit in school. When asked to name his favorite subject, his response is always “P.E”. Getting him out of bed is a daily struggle, and he often repeats the same questions, “Why do we have to go to school? ... Do I have to read? ... When is the next break?” As a papa, my response is the same response our parents gave us. I remind him that school is a privilege, and it is where we get to learn. And yes, the “School is Cool” has come out of my mouth many times. Despite his complaints, when I go to pick him up, he wants to stay!

Recently at an open house, he was excited to show us his work. As a previous med student and even today as a physician, it is easy to fall into the same gripe about class or dread to see Monday’s patient list. But how can I tell my kids or patients one thing while I do the other. The fact is, school and work both make up a major portion of our lives, and there is nothing better than to get the day started with eagerness. Enjoy the process and the moment. The four years in medical school go by quickly, but it’s such a significant part of our lives. When my family returns to Chicago, we talk about how much fun we had, the blizzards we endured and the friends we made. When my kids ask me about my day, I enjoy telling them about it and have made it a point to never say, “I’m tired” or use negative terms. Do I get tired and frustrated... Absolutely! However, I’m also grateful and blessed to do a job that only a select few get to experience.

My kids are not allowed to be just students. They need to participate and engage in extracurricular activities such as sports, music, choir and some sort of community service. Often, I tell them that being a student is average, and doing the extra stuff is what makes school fun. At Northwestern, the opportunities were endless with clubs and activities, and I miss playing basketball against the business students or running along the lake. I miss volunteering at the health and recruitment fairs of pre-med and high school students. While being a physician is also average, and I am very proud to continue to be an example to my boys. Two times a week we offer free exercise and fitness classes to our patients. We have a large holiday health fair that provides more than 6,000 hot meals, toys, vision and health screening as well as a picture with Santa to inner city kids. Recently, we just celebrated our 3rd Annual Bautista Foundation Scholarship Gala that awards students who demonstrate a commitment to community service. When my students or applicants ask about volunteering and service, I often say that it does not become easier when you are a doctor, but rather more difficult as time is money. Being involved and giving back is something we must do and exemplify throughout or lives.

Both Juan Andreas and Titus are becoming excellent role models to little Benny, and with a fourth baby on the way, the cycle of teaching will continue to grow. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine taught us as a family so many lessons. We enjoyed our time there and will continue to show our gratitude through our actions. So if you’re ever in Fresno, California, come say hello to us and be ready to eat well, enjoy life and be engaged in life. Suerte!

Juan Bautista and sons