. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Daniel Padilla

Daniel Padilla

A medical student’s summer “break” is usually non-stop work, as opposed to what the term may suggest. For Daniel Padilla, an Artesia native currently attending the University of New Mexico, that is definitely the case.

For the next six weeks, Padilla is back in his homeland working with Dr. Johnny Moreno at New Horizons Wellness Center during his Practical Immersion Experience (PIE).

“It’s a six-week clinical rotation experience which encourages medical students to go into rural communities in New Mexico in order to see what it’s like to practice in a small community,” said Padilla. “I get to see what this doctor’s life is like.”

Padilla started this new journey June 20, and his six weeks will be up July 28.

As part of the PIE training, Padilla goes in to see patients before Moreno, conducts a physical, and asks the patient questions pertaining to their visit. Moreno then conducts a similar physical, and the two compare notes.

“I go in and I tell them, ‘Hi, my name is Daniel Padilla, I’m a second-year medical student, I’ll be working with Dr. Moreno for the next six weeks,’ and then I administer the initial visit,” said Padilla. “I try and sell it as a ‘two-for-one special’ and so they get a lot more time because we both take our time to ask our questions and discuss their diagnosis between the two of us. Everyone’s been really nice about it.”

Padilla graduated Artesia High School in 2006, then ventured off to San Angelo, Texas, to complete his undergrad degree at Angelo State University. Once that was completed, he moved to Albuquerque to attend UNM Medical School in order to obtain his medical degree.

Padilla says he sees a multitude of people he hasn’t seen in many years quite often since he’s been back to Artesia for this program.

“It’s weird to be back – I’ll see people who I haven’t seen in years,” he said. “I get stopped a lot now and people will say, ‘Hey! How are you doing?’”

Padilla is still weighing his options when it comes to whether or not he will come back to Artesia to open a practice.

“I guess that’s always kind of been in the back of my mind ever since I went into medicine. I want to be a part of a community and really help, and this is where it all started for me, but I’m still not sure,” said Padilla. “It all depends on whether I want to specialize or open a family practice. My family is here and my wife’s family is here, so it’s always an option.”

After these six weeks are over, Padilla will take an exam and then get ready to start his second year of medical school. In the meantime, he’s very grateful for the opportunity Moreno has presented him with.

“I’m very thankful for Dr. Moreno and his staff. He’s very welcoming and took me in with open arms and made me feel like I’m a part of the office,” Padilla said. “I’m really happy to be home and to be with my parents. They’re very proud of me. I’m thankful to them for being supportive for all of these years; it wasn’t easy to get here.”