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Winter Park, Florida – Growing up in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Dr. Valeria Baldivieso knew she wanted to care for people. The question for her was how she could do it.
“I would go with my dad, an ophthalmologist, to underserved communities in Bolivia,” she said. “He provided services to people with issues like cataracts, vision problems and even prescribed glasses. From that moment, I knew I could make a big difference in the medical field.”
Baldivieso moved to Guadalajara, Mexico, to study medicine. She completed her rotation and social service work in a rural clinic in the region. After finishing her studies abroad and having worked as a primary care physician, she discovered that the health care system had some limitations when it came to innovation and research which prompted her to move to the United States.
She knew it was risk and a great challenge, but it led her to learn so much about herself.
“I understood the meaning of perseverance,” Baldivieso said. “I learned when you set a goal, no matter how much adversity you encounter during the journey, you will be able to accomplish your goal with dedication and perseverance.”
During her studies in the United States, she developed an interest in geriatric medicine and research.
“For me, it was so easy to communicate with older adults. I spent so much time with my aunts and my grandmothers,” she said. “I also wanted to become a researcher about Alzheimer’s since my maternal grandmother was diagnosed with the disease.”
Now at AdventHealth, Baldivieso focuses on senior memory care and well-being. She is currently one of the investigators in a groundbreaking international research study aiming to aid early detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The study is available to Central Florida residents through a parentship with the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative, an organization leading an unprecedented global response to the disease.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime. I feel so happy to be part of a major global research study,” Baldivieso said.
She believes her Hispanic heritage has played an important role in connecting with her patients to encourage them to participate in clinical research.
“Generally, Hispanics do not participate in clinical research due to lack of knowledge or accessibility,” Baldivieso said. “My approach is to explain to the patient the importance of participating in research and how they are helping the development of science for future generations.”
In celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, Baldivieso said it’s essential to be a role model for the next generation and lead by example.
“It is important that you develop as a person, follow your dreams and make sure to do something that gives you joy,” she said. “Life is precious, love hard, dream big and be a source of change.”