Juan Alejos, MD, serves as one of our Medical Center Alumni Society board members while keeping his day job as the Medical Director of Pediatric Heart Transplants at UCLA Health. A lifelong Wolverine, Dr. Alejos graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1987 (his oldest daughter Alex is an M4 here now!). He completed his internship, residency and fellowship at the UCLA School of Medicine. This past February, Dr. Alejos returned to Michigan Med to lead a workshop at the Latino Medical Student Association Midwest Regional Conference that was hosted on our campus. Here, Dr. Alejos answers 9 questions about all of his ties to Michigan:
I grew up in Birmingham and always with the idea that U of M was a top-tier university. I always dreamed of being a Wolverine. I had a lot of opportunities when I graduated from high school, but I waited patiently to hear from Michigan. When I was accepted to the Inteflex program it was an opportunity beyond my wildest dreams!
Essentially I grew up during my time there. I met my future wife there. I made my closest friends there. Friends that will always be there for me. As a result all my memories at Michigan are special.
I feel that I had the best training possible. I am the doctor that I am because of that training. I have many special friends that helped determine the kind of doctor and person that I have become. Three who played an especially large role are Drs. Rahul Sanghvi, Vivek Allada and Bobby Evani.
As for mentors, I give credit to Dr. Bob Bartlett. After leaving Michigan I started a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide surgical, medical and humanitarian assistance to children with congenital heart disease. It has been very successful and would not exist without the influence of my time at Michigan.
I once heard it said that Michigan is a religion, and I seriously believe that is something so special that it helps define who you are. My daughters grew up as true Michigan fans and my oldest daughter is currently a fourth year medical student there. Even though I work at UCLA, I live and breathe Maize and Blue, and everyone out here knows that.
It helps me feel more connected to a place that I consider home. I like the feeling that my experiences can help students. It connects me with the best part of my past.
I think that it is important for all of us to give back. Michigan helped mold some of the top physicians and scientists in the country. But there is always room for improvement, and past experiences are especially important to learn from.
I am an alumni but I am also a parent of medical student. I consider myself a bridge between the two very important domains.
I think it is important to find a field that you are passionate about. Medicine has changed a great deal. There are many more stressors and fewer rewards on the surface, however the feeling of helping another human is second to none. That can also be said about being able to say you love going to work every day even years later.
I’m also proud to be a part of MCAS. I hope that I can give back a fraction of what Michigan gave to me!