MY MISSION POSSIBLE .From Cuba to Cairo
Cuban refugee Alvin Mena Cantero provides healthcare worldwide for the underserved
By Kyra Gemberling
FROM HOUSTON TO CAIRO, DOCTOR IN NURSINGE PRACTICE, ITIONER Alvin Mena Cantero ’15 has provided critical healthcare to more than 6,000 patients in low-income communities and has completed 20 health and wellness clinics around the world. But Cantero’s story begins in his native Cuba, where the seeds were planted for his personal mission of providing healing to those in need.
Certified as a physician specialist in Cuba in 2009, Cantero’s application for the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program was accepted that same year, granting him refuge in the U.S. Adapting to a new language and culture were hard enough, but Cantero had no idea how difficult it would be to revalidate his status as a physician in the States.
“My whole family depended on me to send money back to Cuba, but I was supporting myself with three part-time jobs as a server, bartender, and medical assistant,” he says. “After being denied entry to three physician assistant programs, I felt weak and defeated.”
But soon, Cantero began a nursing program at Sacred Heart University, which he completed in 2012. While working as a nurse for Memorial Hermann & Allergy of Texas in Houston, Cantero had his first experience treating patients living in poverty. He wanted to do more to help these patients, and that’s when he discovered that he could advance his career at Walden.
Cantero earned his Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in 2015. Just three months later, he enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program so he could provide an even higher level of care to patients in need.
In June 2016, Cantero opened Alvin Clinic Familiar, which he has been running while working on his doctorate. The urgent care and walk-in clinic provides cost-effective care for patients in Houston’s Hispanic and African-American communities.
“Our impact on the community has grown by distributing information on vaccinations, risk factor management, and the importance of early detection of chronic diseases,” Cantero says. “We publish in English and Spanish through La Nota Houston, letting families know the importance of proper primary healthcare and prevention.”
Cantero is furthering his clinic’s impact worldwide with traveling clinics, from providing home health visits in rural Texas towns affected by flooding to a community clinic in Cairo, Egypt, where he met with local health providers to educate the poorest populations on risk factor management. His next traveling clinic will be in Haiti this October, providing wellness checks to populations affected by the 2010 earthquake.
Cantero is also serving the next generation of nurses by acting as a preceptor at his clinic for students from Walden, South University, and Chamberlain University. After completing his DNP, Cantero intendeds to re-enroll with Walden for a third degree. He believes a PhD in Leadership will advance his skills in running his clinic and making larger strides toward his mission.
“Walden’s social change mission influenced me to adopt a global vision and encourage my students to take their vision, skills, and knowledge to parts of the world where people need us,” he says. “I’m determined to spread Walden's values around the world by providing health services to vulnerable populations. Walden not only gave me an opportunity to become the healthcare professional I always wanted to be but also a leader capable of engaging students and organizations to create global impact in healthcare.”
Note: This article was sent by Dr. Alvin Mena by email to include it as a post on the Cuban Medicine Blog