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Founder and president
Juniper ConsultingVIEW PROFILE
Samuel Sarmiento, M.D. (PRES ’14), is full of surprises. A second-generation physician from Ecuador, he pivoted away from medicine after his internship year. He wasn’t keen on a career of 10-hour days in the OR. After an M.P.H., M.B.A. and postdoctoral research fellowship at Johns Hopkins, he founded a consulting company. Around that time, he met the love of his life in a nontraditional way – on an Airbnb-like app that facilitates global hospitality and cultural exchanges. Time will tell what’s in store for this adventurous spirit.
“Make the most of your time at Mayo Clinic. Mayo has enormous resources to foster your professional and academic growth. It’s unlikely you’ll be in such a productive research environment again. Take advantage of all that surrounds you.”
I’m from Ecuador, where my father is a primary care physician. He wanted at least one of his children to pursue medicine. By the end of high school, I was pretty certain it would be me.
The fame of Mayo Clinic reaches all corners of the world. By the clinical years of medical school in Latin America, I had met U.S.-trained physicians and residents, some with experiences at Mayo Clinic, who spoke highly of it. The last of the clinical years in Latin American medical schools is called internship, when you rotate through core specialties – internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics/gynecology and pediatrics. After having rotated in surgery, I was sure that would be my specialty of choice for residency.
I was attracted to Mayo for the reputation of its surgical training program but knew that the odds were stacked against me. After all, it’s far more difficult for international students to match in U.S. training programs. Therefore, I applied broadly and was thrilled to be accepted for surgical intern year at Mayo Clinic.
I had an amazing experience at Mayo and made incredible connections. I was surrounded by people who are some of the best in the world in their respective fields. I was impressed by the quality of the academic program and how well organized and managed patient care was.
At the time, I was interested in possibly pursuing a plastic surgery residency, so I connected with breast surgeon Valerie Lemaine, M.D. (S ’10), with whom I conducted research. Additionally, David Farley, M.D. (S ’94), was a source of inspiration. He was very passionate about resident education and put so much energy and effort into making sure we received the highest academic experience, going above and beyond to develop the surgery simulation program.
Internship is a testing period. If you feel medicine 100%, then you should continue to pursue it. If you do not, you should consider other options. I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend as many as 10 hours a day in the operating room. I felt I could also create value outside of the confines of the hospital. Toward the end of medical school, I had thought about public health, so I decided to pursue that. After my intern year, I went to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and earned Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) and Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degrees, followed by a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Department of Plastic Surgery.
Halfway through my postdoctoral fellowship, I began to consider consulting since I had been exposed to it in business school. Instead of management or business consulting, however, I knew that my clinical background would be best put to use in consulting in the life sciences. Therefore, I founded Juniper Consulting along with two other colleagues from Hopkins who also had medical and public health credentials.
We provide boutique life sciences consulting, including support for researchers in clinical studies design and implementation, assistance with data collection and management, research data analysis, health economics research, clinical research interpretation and communication, and manuscript preparation. We also provide health systems with services to improve clinical, operational, financial and market dynamics; assess existing services; design and implement services; conduct budget analyses and perform market access research.
At Juniper, public health had been the smallest of our service areas, but the pandemic quickly changed that. In 2020, we helped a business return to work safely during COVID-19, with evidence-based and expert-vetted recommendations.
Don’t let external factors affect your performance. Before being at Mayo, I’d never experienced a brutal winter. I went to work in the dark and came home in the dark and did not allow that to deter me. It makes you more resilient.
Make the most of your time at Mayo Clinic. Mayo has enormous resources to foster your professional and academic growth. It’s unlikely you’ll be in such a productive research environment again. You’re around people who publish several papers each year. Take advantage of all that surrounds you.
Also, be sure about what you want to do for the rest of your life. If you’re not 100% passionate about academic medicine, pursue what you do find meaningful. Pivoting away from academic medicine can be frowned upon, but do what best aligns with you and your lifestyle. I’m glad I made the change sooner rather than later.
I miss certain aspects of it. It’s certainly a more stable career path than consulting! Often, people stick with clinical medicine because it’s a clear-cut career path.
For some clients, having a medical degree is a plus and helps me have a deeper understanding of the organization’s problems. So while I may not be involved in direct patient care, my background allows me to approach clinical problems in a unique way.
I enjoy learning languages. I speak English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and some German.
I’m also very active and love sports. I do yoga, lift weights, kickbox, swim, run and hike. I play guitar and love reading. I’m interested in people and other cultures and therefore love to travel – something I eagerly look forward to after COVID!
Before the pandemic, I hosted people through CouchSurfing, a global hospitality and cultural exchange service, including lodging, that’s similar to Airbnb without any money exchanged. It allows more authentic travel experiences.
I was married recently and met my wife via CouchSurfing! She’s from Puerto Rico and stayed with me in Ecuador, where I was living after my fellowship. I wrote a CouchSurfing blog post about how we met https://blog.couchsurfing.com/my-journey-with-couchsurfing/.
Bringing everything full circle, when I was in high school, I participated in an exchange program and went to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I lived with a family and have known them for 17 years. My wife and I are living with them now while we look for a house.
It goes to show the importance of making lifelong connections with people.
See past New Chapter stories here.