His name is famous worldwide, but Ricardo “Ricky” Martin just laughs it off.
Martin, 25, isn’t the famous Latin singer he’s often mistaken for. He’s a graduating student from the University of Florida School of Physician Assistant Studies, where after two years in the program, he’s made his name known in his own way.
Martin chose to be a physician assistant after an eye-opening experience while an undergraduate student at Florida Atlantic University. While shadowing an orthopedic surgeon, he became acquainted with a physician assistant who showed him the career possibilities within the field.
“I realized I didn’t want to be in school forever,” Martin said. “PAs are independent, but can still ask for help.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree in biology, Martin took a year off to complete the prerequisites for physician assistant programs and teach middle and high school at American Preparatory Academy in Pembroke Pines, Fla.
“The opportunity opened, and I had always been between teaching and becoming a doctor of medicine,” Martin said. “I got the experience there, and I think I had enough of teaching.”
He chose to attend UF after a successful interview, where he said he was “sold” to the program.
“They really care that you do well,” Martin said.
While he had never been to Gainesville before, it was a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of South Florida.
“People are way nicer in Gainesville, and they make me speak English,” said Martin, a native Spanish speaker. “It has a very small-town feeling.”
Born and raised in Mexico, Martin moved to Florida when he was 14, after his dad’s job was relocated. His knowledge of Spanish and cultural background only increases his ability to connect with patients, said Robert Bobilin, academic coordinator for the School of Physician Assistant Studies and Martin’s adviser.
“His ability to speak Spanish is going to serve him so well,” Bobilin said.
Martin referred to Bobilin as a grandfather figure, a sentiment Bobilin did not take lightly.
“We cocoon them during the academic years,” he said. “They know we’re looking after their best interests. When you get thrust into the world, not everyone is going to treat you the same way.”
Martin is currently on his last rotation and will graduate June 23. He has accepted a job in primary care medicine in Lake City.
“If this is what you want, go for it. You’ll work your butt off, but you’ll love it,” Martin said. “It’s worth every penny, every drop of sweat and not having a life. It’s worth it.”