Distinguished Service Award Feature

Last Updated: Dec 9, 2022

Currently, serving as a professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral science at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, and the medical director of consultation and liaison psychiatry at Temple University Hospital, Dr. Natalia Ortiz has a lot of accomplishments to be proud of; but that didn’t come without any struggles.

Dr. Ortiz grew up in a small town outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico and earned her medical degree from Ponce School of Medicine before coming to the United States to begin her residency training in psychiatry at Temple University Hospital.

When she came to the United States, Dr. Ortiz said it was hard to adjust.

“At home, I had my family and friends as my support system. I came to Philadelphia, and I didn’t know the language well, I have an accent, and it was met with some rejection. In some instances, was treated as an immigrant and told to go back to my country,” she said. 

This fueled her passion for getting involved in community organizations like the Society of Ibero-Latino American Medical Professionals, an organization that is focused on closing the gap of under-representation by mentoring minority medical students, where she is currently serving as president.

“Being one of the few Latin Americans, that I knew of, at Temple University, I wanted to give back.”

The organization focuses on building a community of Latin American health care providers through aiding them with continuing education and networking opportunities.

She also served as commissioner on Governor Tom Wolf’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, participating in public hearings and providing expert testimony on solutions to the opioid crisis.

On learning she was awarded PAMED’s 2022 Distinguished Service Award, Dr. Ortiz said she was surprised and humbled.

“I had to read the letter a couple of times,” she said with a laugh. “And I wanted to know who nominated me! But it was also really reassuring to be recognized for my work. It means I’m making an impact.”

Dr. Ortiz said she will continue to work to bring opportunities to the community.

She said, “There is a lot of talent out there. We live in a community of cultural differences that bring unique opportunities to the health care field.”  

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