Making Her Dream a Reality

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May 13, 2019
Nattaly Greene

At age 19, Nattaly Greene left her home in Colombia and arrived in the United States with two 55-pound bags and a dream: to become a physician.

Having grown up in Colombia, she witnessed firsthand the effects that wealth inequality and injustice had upon the health and wellbeing of people. Her father survived a brain tumor when she was 10, and her younger sister suffered from childhood ailments. Greene credits these firsthand experiences — and her long ancestral line of traditional healers — as the driving forces behind her motivation and passion for caring for others.

Greene was determined to put in whatever work was necessary in order to create a healthier world through medicine.

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And work she did. After moving to the U.S., Greene held two jobs in Wisconsin — a cattle farmer and waitress — while simultaneously taking English classes. She navigated the complicated U.S. medical system, not to mention vast cultural differences, as she pursued a degree in nursing.

While rewarding in its own way, Greene couldn’t let go of her dream of becoming a doctor. She worked as an orthopedic nurse for three years, then applied to the OHSU School of Medicine — a place that would nurture her passion for helping medically underserved populations.

During medical school, Greene flourished with the support she received at OHSU. She earned an honor as a 2018 Swindells Scholar, one of the School of Medicine’s most prestigious MD scholarship awards.

"I believe medicine is in my blood," Greene said.

Greene also became a champion for diversity.

She spearheaded community-oriented projects at a largely Latino middle school, supported an ongoing partnership with Virginia Garcia’s mobile clinics serving migrant farm workers, established a mentorship program with African immigrant students at a local high school, and lead advocacy efforts to increase the acceptance and financial support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) medical school applicants.

“My intent has been to use medicine as my vehicle to affect change,” Greene said. “Given my family history of traditional healers and service, I believe medicine is in my blood.”

Perfect match

On March 15, Greene celebrated 20 years of hard work when she learned that she was placed in an orthopedic surgery residency at Massachusetts General Hospital of Harvard Medical School – her top choice. Greene says orthopedic surgery combines her strengths and passions: mechanics, physics and creative problem-solving.

For the second year in a row, the medical school posted a 100 percent match.

For all 126 fourth-year MD students at OHSU, the day was a dream come true. Match Day is a highly anticipated annual event where students learn where they will train in their chosen specialty for the next few years. For the second year in a row, the medical school posted a 100 percent match, further affirmation of OHSU students’ excellence and their competitiveness for residency programs.

Greene plans on using her position as a physician to affect change at a larger scale through advocacy, mentorship and population health. She envisions herself as a leader in the global medical field and hopes to continuously improve medicine through her dedication to patient-centered care.

For her, this is just the beginning.

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Category: Education

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