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Caring at the Core: Dr. Jennifer Aviles

March 29, 2012
Dr. Jennifer Aviles

Photo by Ed Lowe, courtesy of Highline Medical Center

Dr. Jennifer Aviles ’97

An opportunity to care about people different from ourselves

By Chris Albert

In an emergency department in Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Jennifer (Tolzmann ’97) Aviles, was caring for a heroin addict when a sense that she describes as a calling for compassion washed over her.

“I was caring for him and God changed my heart for this man,” she said. “He took away my fears.”

This was a man that in most circumstances a person would not trust, and maybe not even acknowledge.

Dr. Aviles was a young resident and it was that moment and that patient – the when, where and who – that made her decide emergency medicine was the path for her.

“In his vulnerability, I realized that medicine is an opportunity to care about people different from ourselves and it’s an opportunity to show God’s love,” she said.

Now an emergency physician at Highline Medical Center in King County, she couldn’t see herself following any other path.

“Emergency medicine is appealing to me because I treat patients of all ages with a broad spectrum of medical problems,” she said.

“It is rewarding because it is an opportunity to provide compassionate care to patients in their time of crisis – whether they are having  heart attack or their 3-year-old jumped off the bed and cut their lip.”

When asked for her advice to students considering a career in medicine, Aviles said, “Take advantage of opportunities to explore the field of medicine. Practicing medicine can be a challenging and rewarding vocation. For me, that calling is to provide compassionate care.”

Read how Dr. Nathaniel Schlicher ’00 found his passion for medicine >>

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