A terrifying fall from the roof caused the young Ricardy Rimpel to land on a pile of broken glass. The boy’s leg was severely injured and soon became infected.
“We may have to amputate your leg,” said his doctor.
Devastated, Rimpel imagined what it would be like to never again play soccer, his favorite sport.
But it was the passionate care of the skilled physicians who attended to his injury that healed Rimpel’s leg and also prompted the desire in the boy’s heart to pursue medicine.
“It was a defining moment in my life,” said Rimpel, a fourth-year UF College of Medicine student. “These men and women inspired me to become a physician and impact patients’ lives the way they impacted mine.”
At the age of 17, Rimpel emigrated from Haiti to South Florida with one of his older sisters in hopes of better education. Determined to succeed, he learned English quickly and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Florida International University.
As an undergraduate student, Rimpel took an emergency medical technician basic course, in which he could shadow emergency medical technicians and paramedics. He often rode in ambulances with them to respond to 911 calls.
He recalled a particular incident when an emergency call came in from an 8-year-old girl who knew her mother was having a seizure. Rimpel and the rescue team arrived at the scene and saw the woman on the bathroom floor.
“When I was interacting with the patient and her daughter, it pretty much sealed the deal for me,” he said. “I realized then that a physician’s work doesn’t just affect the patients’ health but also their families and the community around them.”
Rimpel began searching for a medical school that would best suit his need to stay within one-flight distance from his family back home. During his interview at the UF College of Medicine, he saw a supportive environment provided by the faculty and staff.
“I was confident that I would succeed at UF, one of the best medical schools in the state,” Rimpel said. “I also loved the fact that UF offered opportunities to participate in international health outreach trips to Haiti which allowed me to give back to my fellow Haitians early in my career.”
Participating in the trips to Haiti and the Dominican Republic for four years, Rimpel was exposed to the unfortunate outcomes of health disparities and scarce resources. He also became more aware of the importance of preventative medicine.
Motivated by great mentors and “master clinicians” at UF, Rimpel matched in family medicine for his residency training at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, which was his first choice.
“Family medicine excites me because I want to be on the front line of preventative medicine,” he said. “Being the face of primary care offers infinite learning opportunities, something I find very appealing.”
Only a few weeks away from graduation, Rimpel thanks his wife, who is also graduating in May with a nursing degree, for taking care of their 2-year-old son, Aiden.
“A typical day in my second year here consisted of waking up after five hours of interrupted sleep and heading to school,” Rimpel said. “I could not have done this without my supportive wife who always understood what I needed to do.”
Luckily, the new parents had many classmates who volunteered to babysit and faculty members who showed great support during one of the most challenging times of Rimpel’s life.
“I have made long lasting friends and learned from wonderful role models at the UF College of Medicine,” he said. “I am very blessed and excited to be doing what I’ve always wanted to do—provide excellent care to my patients.”