A Bristol Woman's Determined Journey to Physicianhood

At age 46, Margaret Furtado decided to pursue her dreams of being a doctor – and the hard work paid off

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Dr. Margaret Furtado’s life reads like a screenplay: At three years old she travels with her parents from the Azores to Bristol, where she grows up and builds a successful career as a registered dietitian with leadership positions at Boston Medical, Tufts Medical, Mass General, and John Hopkins. She authors two well-respected books on nutrition and weight loss surgery and becomes a noted international public speaker. Wanting more, she considers obtaining a PhD in nutrition when a longtime friend encourages her to pursue her lifelong secret dream of becoming a physician. At age 46, the arduous journey begins: Prerequisite courses while working a demanding job, three years of rejections before eventual acceptance, infinite hours of studying to pass the boards (and not to mention a house fire and horrific attack thrown into the mix). But all of the sacrifices and challenges faded into the background when she learned she was matched with her top choice, Roger Williams Medical Center, where she begins her residency in Internal Medicine this month.

FAMILY HISTORY: When I was growing up it had been a cultural influence to do something less rigorous than medicine and work in the field of nutrition, which was viewed as a better lifestyle if I was going to be married with children. Well, my life didn’t work out that way. My parents and sister have been so supportive.

GUT FEELING: I fell in love with my work in Obesity Medicine. I was thinking of getting a PhD in it. My good friend Robert Crausman, who worked with me when we were teenagers at Metacom Manor and is now a doctor, said, “Margaret, you have way too much fire in your belly for a PhD. You want medicine.”

MIRACLE MOMENT: I was about to drop out of medical school. I had booked my ticket to go home when one night I was walking with some friends and was attacked by a guy with a hammer. The whole ride to the hospital I kept thinking, “I hope my brain is okay so I can continue to be a medical student.” I was not going to let the attacker kill my dreams. It motivated me. I decided to transfer to American University of Antigua Medical School.

MATCH DAY: From June 2019 to January of 2020, I went to Rogers Free Library to study for the board exams every day from 9am to 4pm. I would place my vision board in front of me to motivate me when I was feeling overwhelmed. In my childhood home surrounded by my family on March 19, I got my top choice!

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