Hispanic Heritage Month Highlight: Dr. Yvette Calderon

Yvette Calderon, M.D.
Einstein Alumna ’90

Dr. Yvette Calderon is an emergency-medicine clinician, researcher, teacher, and mentor. She was born and raised in New York City. Her father was one of the “Borinqueneers”—soldiers from Puerto Rico who served during the Korean War. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Brown University and her medical degree at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She went on to serve as chief resident at Jacobi Medical Center, where she later joined the staff and became a member of the Einstein faculty. In 2008, Dr. Calderon was appointed assistant dean of diversity enhancement at Einstein. In 2011, she was promoted to associate professor and stayed in that role until 2015. She is currently a professor of emergency medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and chair of the David B. Kriser Department of Emergency Medicine at Mount Sinai Downtown. Her clinical research has focused on two major health disparities in the Bronx and the Lower East Side of Manhattan: HIV and hepatitis C.

For Hispanic Heritage Month, the office of diversity and inclusion spoke with Dr. Calderon to learn more about her experiences as a student and faculty member at Einstein.

What was most memorable about your time as an Einstein student?
I am the first person in my family to become a physician, so I did not know what to expect as a medical student. The clinical exposure through clerkship was the most fulfilling and rewarding experience for me at Einstein. I felt like even though I didn’t know a lot when I was a medical student, as a member of the medical team I was able to serve patients as an advocate by relaying vital information to the rest of the team.

The clinical physicians and educators were committed to the medical students. Their message to us was clear—we would be the next generation of physicians, and it was our responsibility to provide the best care we could. Now it is ingrained in me to dedicate time to teaching the next generation of students, who will one day be taking care of my family and me.

Can you tell us about your time serving as associate dean of the office of diversity enhancement?
I oversaw the entire office, which included work with our pipeline programs, support for our medical students, strengthening institutional communication, and building strategic alliances. I started a faculty-networking group to strengthen cross-department connections and mentoring relationships. I am most proud of our newsletter, which highlights the wonderful work of our students.

What makes Hispanic Heritage Month important to you?
This month reminds me of my obligation to offer insights on deconstructing the structural racism that exists in the institutions I am a part of.

What advice do you offer to students interested in pursuing medicine?
It is a calling to go into medicine; it is not a job. You need to truly listen to your patients and meet them where they are. Not only will you be treating patients—you will be their voice and advocate. It is up to you to create a better healthcare system.

Also, there are many different paths to take in medicine. Just keep moving forward.
NBC recently reported on Dr. Yvette Calderon’s work during the coronavirus pandemic.
Learn more here