Putting Others First in Life and Medicine – An Interview with Eddie Menacho, PA

by | Apr 10, 2021 | 121, Doctor, General Medical News, Medicare, Medicine | 0 comments

About Eddie Menacho, PA: Eddie Menacho is a National Medical Fellowship Scholar and a graduate from the PA Program at the prestigious Keck School of Medicine. He received his Bachelor's...

About Eddie Menacho, PA:

Eddie Menacho is a National Medical Fellowship Scholar and a graduate from the PA Program at the prestigious Keck School of Medicine. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology from California State University, San Bernardino with both departmental and university honors.

With his brother Anthony Menacho, PA, he has invested time and resources in both undeserved communities and the college student community. He co-founded Brainbox Methods, an organization dedicated to helping students achieve their goals outside the classroom. Furthermore, Eddie began working with the Street Medicine Team at USC to provide health care to the homeless population in Los Angeles.

Putting Others First in Life and Medicine – An Interview with Eddie Menacho, PA

A Stoic Approach to Time

From a young age, Eddie Menacho, together with his brother Anthony, learned the importance of what many of us quickly tend to ignore: family and time. A lifelong lesson learned from their wise father, who, unfortunately, is not here to witness how his two sons constantly sow and reap the fruit of their never-ending labor: putting the community first and serving its essential needs.

As Eddie decided to become a better administrator of his own time and help bring change to the sick and the needy, he turned his passion and resources towards medicine. That is where he discovered that becoming an expert in your field is more than just getting straight A’s during finals week; it’s all the little things outside the classroom that count. “We started realizing like, man, these students, they don’t know how to study. They don’t know how to, how to finish the job.” For that reason, he and his brother searched for a way to turn students into better individuals and help them truly achieve their dream goals.

The Brainbox Methods

“The grades aren’t a difficult thing in the grand scheme of things, right,” Eddie shares with Top Doctor Magazine. While such a statement sounds natural and convincing enough, only a few understand and believe it. Eddie has met with hundreds of students who, although their grades were sky-high, had nothing else to put on their résumé, let alone write a proper one. They were akin to beautiful sculptures but without any final touches.

In search of the culprit, Eddie points towards the outdated learning system, which follows the same approach common in the 1800s. In this system, students would read for endless hours in the library. However, with today’s technology, it became apparent that only versatile learning methods can help young students achieve their full potential. For that reason, Eddie and his brother strives towards bringing students outside, in the real world, and equipping them with tools that books, albeit helpful, cannot provide.

The Prerequisites for a Successful Student

First off, the crucial thing for a student to understand is that no student has all the answers from the beginning and that mentoring is not a sign of weakness but strength. Having someone who can guide you through the maze of student life can make the difference between graduation and dropout.

Second, equip yourself with the proper virtues. As Eddie shares with us, perfectionism, diligence, and, crucially, prudence are every student’s best allies towards learning from one’s mistakes and overcoming them, no matter how many times we fall.

Finally, nurturing a spirit of collegiality amongst students takes up a significant chunk of Eddie’s approach. Not only do we have to confess that finding all the answers yourself is a Herculean task, but also, we have to remember that, as students, we are not free from disappointments in life or depression. On the contrary, our learning years are when we need as much help as we can get, and Eddie teaches us how to ask for it. Assimilating this spirit of collegiality with his life experiences, Eddie talks of students as a soccer team, where team spirit outweighs individual needs.

Medicine is More than just Proper Medication

As the pandemic hit the American shores with full effect, Eddie worked in a COVID ICU, as a Critical Care PA since the pandemic began. In the beginning, he admits, more than enough confusion surrounding proper COVID-19 medication made the physicians’ efforts difficult enough. However, through the same spirit of collegiality, U.S. physicians kept close ties with physicians from across the ocean to improve patient care and bring the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients down.

But what happens when what one needs the most is medicine for the soul? How do you fight loneliness and lack of human contact? How does one find ways to cure both the body and the mind? Nothing stands as a stronger statement for the COVID-19 patient’s need for human compassion than Eddie’ s story about Elvira Lizarraga.

Following in the footsteps of Mother Theresa, Eddie decided to turn his approach into a more patient-oriented one and play the role of the servant, not the dictator. “And, and what I, what I learned about medicine was, a lot of times when you are knowledgeable in whatever you do, you try to push your agenda on people. It’s like, I know this about medicine, and I know that your diagnosis is this. And I know that you need to take this medication. And we try to do what we need to do. But what we forget that is that we’re not, we’re not dictators, we’re serving, we’re there to serve people.”

As such, Eddie dedicated his time and resources to caring for one of his patients, Elvira Lizarraga, who was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease along with COVID. Through constant care and patience, Eddie managed to build a relationship of trust with his patient, who, responding to his kind approach, opened her heart to Eddie.

The Power of Human Compassion

Last June, he witnessed Elvira being brought to the hospital with COVID-19. For four months, Elvira laid in the Intensive Care Unit, outlasting all the other COVID-19 patients, like a traveler whose train never arrives at the platform. These long months of loneliness took their toll on Elvira’s mental state: depression was threatening to bring the fight to a premature end.

With tears in his eyes, Eddie remembers how not medicine, not expensive care, not expert virologists cured Elvira, but the power of literature. Afraid of her friend’s worsening health, Eddie took a shot in the dark and tried to use a good story to bring Elvira’s curiosity and will to live back to life. “And so I asked her, I was like, Hey, have you, have you ever read the Harry Potter series?” Her negative answer paved the way for long reading sessions when Elvira constantly asked Eddie for details about Harry or Dudley or other characters while always looking forward to the next adventure. “And the whole goal was to just get her inspired so she can do her exercises, so she can do PT, so she can do OT, so she can stay on the C-PAP a little longer and fight. Everyday Elvira would look forward to Eddie arriving at 5:00pm to read her another chapter from the book, they did it for weeks on end.”

From Eddie’s point of view, it was never about medicine but human compassion: “She needed, she needed to feel connected to somebody. And so, she needed something to look forward to. And so, yeah, that’s, that’s what I did. […] A lot of times, it doesn’t come down to medicine, it comes down to the relationship.” And only Elvira’s words can express her gratitude: “This battle took an entire team of Angels like you [Eddie], support of my family and friends, team of doctors, nurses, and most of all God. Without all you Angels, I couldn’t have come through this! There are no words that will let you know how grateful I am for you and the importance of medical caregivers giving that beautiful human touch to patients.”

As a parting thought, Eddie Menacho has but one wish to bring this story to more patients in need and hope to inspire more people with this example: “If I can get this story out and, and J. K. Rowling herself could like talk to her, or something like it would just inspire her to, but it would inspire so many other people.” We can only hope that Eddie Menacho’s wish will come true and that he will find the strength to bring back hope in the lives of those who need it most.

Hannah H.
Hannah H.