Member of the Month: Benjamin Gonzalez, MD, MPH, FAAFP
El Paso family physician brings passions for international health and public health to practice
By Kate Alfano
A native to El Paso, Texas, Benjamin Gonzalez, MD, MPH, received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, and completed residency at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz. He was awarded his master’s in public health with a degree emphasis in international health and development from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. As a bilingual physician, his fluent Spanish allows him to communicate with his increasingly diverse community. Dr. Gonzalez returned to El Paso in 2015 to work side-by-side with his dad, the late Rogelio Gonzalez, MD, and his mom, Bobbi Gonzalez, FNP, in family medicine. He practices comprehensive family medicine care and has interests in public health and preventative medicine.
Who inspired you to become a physician?
My dad, also a family physician, was a huge inspiration in my pursuit to become a doctor. I always thought his job sounded so cool. He would leave the house and say, “I’m going to go save some lives.”
Can you briefly describe your career goals?
I plan to continue with private practice for as long as I can. I also plan to work in academics in teaching medical students and residents. Eventually, I would like to utilize my public health background in international health and development and do mission trips. During my training in public health, I had the opportunity to travel to Thailand and Vietnam comparing the grassroots responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemics. I had the opportunity to work at an NGO in Tanzania at a small clinic and in a laboratory. I also went to Lima, Peru, and learned about the challenges presented by the limited resources in caring for impoverished communities.
These are the types of experiences I would like to revisit at some point in my career. I found them extremely rewarding; they reaffirmed the reason I went into medicine.
What unique challenges are represented in your patient community?
Our patients present with a variety of challenges including being low income and having limited resources. At times it reminds me of the time I spent abroad, especially caring for patients who travel over the US-Mexico border regularly. Being in private practice and having the benefit of drug rep samples is extremely valuable to the community I serve. It’s getting those same medications covered that is often challenging.
What brings you joy in your work?
I enjoy getting the opportunity to talk with patients from all walks of life. Going room to room and listening to amazing life stories brings me joy. Of course, having the opportunity to usually be the first to address a medical complaint and helping them is the biggest joy.
Why do you volunteer as a preceptor?
I love having medical students rotate in my office. I do it because the preceptors I had in medical school really inspired me to have the attitude I have about medicine today. I hope I pay that attitude forward.
What do you enjoy doing outside of medicine?
I enjoy traveling and spending time with my family.
TAFP’s Member of the Month program highlights Texas family physicians in TAFP News Now and on the TAFP website. We feature a biography and a Q&A with a different TAFP member each month and his or her unique approach to family medicine. If you know an outstanding family physician colleague who you think should be featured as a Member of the Month or if you’d like to tell your own story, nominate yourself or your colleague by contacting TAFP by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (512) 329-8666. View past Members of the Month here.