Program Coordinator and Intern
I got goosebumps and felt so inspired, intrigued and thrilled, all at the same time. This is what happened to me the first time I heard Dr. Myerson in person talking about Steps2Walk at the [International Federation of Foot and Ankle Societies] 2022 conference. I had heard about S2W before, but never imagined how transcendental their work actually was. At that moment, I remember being seated at my chair waiting for the coffee break and thinking, “I need to ask what moved him to start this amazing project? How can I be a part of this?”… so I did.
My name is Renata Pulcha, I am a Medical Doctor, from Lima, Perú. I was born in Italy but spent all my life in Lima. I was raised an only child, but always wanted to have siblings. My mom couldn’t have more kids, so I opted to have as many friends as I could. Since I was little, I was moved to help others, my close loved ones, and strangers in need. I did voluntary work regularly during all my childhood and adolescence to unattended communities, which unfortunately, there are a lot of in Peru. I remember driving my mom crazy, because I always gave away my best new toys to the kids in these communities and played with them. I can still feel the warmth of this beautiful feeling.
Growing up, I was always hyperactive, playing all kinds of sports, moving around, jumping everywhere, which led me to, what I would later discover would be, one of my biggest loves, Orthopaedic Surgery. I think I had around 12 sprains and 2 fractures in total. It even got to a point that my parents didn’t want to take me to the ER anymore. Surgeons of the moment still used printed X-Rays, and I remember feeling so fascinated by them. As the lesions went by, I became more and more interested in Anatomy, Bones and Surgery. The last year of school I confirmed my destiny: I wanted to be an Orthopaedic Surgeon, and to accomplish that I got into Medicine School.
Medicine School in Perú lasts for seven years, seven long, almost never-ending years. It was a real roller coaster. The only thing that was always constant during this whole time, was my will to one day be able to put together broken bones. As soon as I finished last year, I went for a two-month Orthopedics rotation in the University of Miami. This was an absolutely amazing time. I remember waking up at 3:30 in the morning, and being at the hospital, ready for rounds at 4:30am. Even though I never felt tired, I was just so excited to be living that experience and wanted to always take the most of it.
When I came back home, I got the luck to find a job as a hospitalist doctor in a private clinic close to my house. Besides having an incredible work environment, it allowed me to scrub in surgeries during my free time. Spending time in the OR had become my favorite hobby. I came close to a lot of surgeons, and after some time, I decided to quit my previous job and started to work only as a surgery assistant in the fields of Orthopedics, Plastic Surgery, Oncologic Surgery and General Surgery. I still can’t believe that work always feels like playtime.
One of these surgeons, who I can’t thank enough, encouraged me to go to Chile with them to the IFFAS Congress. I was uncertain at the beginning, because I thought maybe this was too advanced for me, since I hadn’t started training yet, but finally I decided to go anyway. And this leads me to the beginning of this “story” and the Jungian concept of Synchronicity, which describes the idea of two circumstances meaningfully related but without a causal connection between them. I think it was a meaningful coincidence for me to be seated that day listening to Dr. Myerson, feeling so inspired by him and having the courage to approach him and volunteer to work with his amazing foundation.
Months went by, and as Program Coordinator, I’ve been lucky enough to witness 4 times Steps2Walk magic through their programs. They all have been incredibly intense experiences, full of emotions, hard work and a lot of academic knowledge. All the programs are different, but patient evaluation day is always my favorite one, because it gives you the chance to know the backstory of the patient, their expectations, their needs, and their fears. Getting to see in person the bonding between the patient and the volunteer surgeon performing their life-changing surgery is a non-valuable experience for me. It’s beautiful to see how Steps2Walk brings together so many good-hearted surgeons.
I still have a year before starting my Orthopedics training in Vienna, Austria. Meanwhile, I’m more than enthusiastic and joyful to keep going on this journey with Steps2Walk, who has had a huge impact in my life, for which I can’t be more thankful.