Perhaps you have been lucky enough to have Dr. Katiusca Acosta as your pediatrician. You know she is super thorough, friendly, and an amazing doctor overall...but do you know she loves to do Zumba (and no, unfortunately we don’t have a video of this, but maybe next time)! She has a wide variety of interests and is passionate about many issues that drive her as a pediatrician every single day… and ultimately pushing her to make a positive impact in so many lives.
SSP: Our SSP families would love to learn more about you, as you have made such a positive impact in so many of their lives. Can you tell us about where you grew up, and what led you to becoming a pediatrician?
I was born in the beautiful Caribbean Island of the Dominican Republic. I lived on the island until I was 10 years old. Then we immigrated to the United States, to Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
It all started in senior year of High School, I completed an internship at a local hospital and realized that not only were women underrepresented in medicine, but most importantly women of color. I was often used to translate difficult diagnoses to Spanish-speaking patients.
Women of color are less likely to obtain a college education and thus pursue higher education. Factors such us low income, lack of mentors to keep them motivated as they are growing, and lack of support from families and/or becoming pregnant at a very young age can all influence a young woman’s decision to attend college and pursue higher education after college.
Being a mentor or becoming someone that young children of color can look up to and relate to fueled my desire to become a doctor, specifically a pediatrician.
SSP: Who would you say are your biggest inspirations and mentors?
My parents, because they were able to raise three women and give them excellent education with minimal wage jobs. My mother was a teacher in the Dominican Republic. My father was a police officer.
Once in the United States, they had to give up their respective careers to put food on the table for my sisters and me. They took minimum wage jobs and worked in factories to provide for us. They always encouraged us to do our best in school and pursue a college education. They wanted us to have all the opportunities that they couldn’t have.
SSP: I understand you are very passionate about fitness, what is it that you enjoy and how does that influence you as a doctor?
I enjoy running, high intensity interval training and Zumba as a means to stay fit.
I try to motivate kids and young adults through my own experiences with health and fitness, especially those that are struggling with obesity. Due to the COVID -19 pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of obese children due to inactivity and confinement to their homes. During the child or teen’s wellness visit, I usually discuss how making small changes, such as drinking more water- can make a big difference. I ask parents to involve the entire family in making changes in their daily eating habits.
A daily afternoon walk or trip to the park, even during the winter - to ride a bike or simply walk can have a great impact, not only physically but mentally.
SSP: You are also a volunteer for Physicians for Human Rights - can you tell us about the organization, and how you are involved?
I completed a training throughout the pandemic to help migrant children gain refugee status in the US by means of a physical exam and documenting any potential signs of physical abuse. It’s important that children that are being persecuted or abused in their countries get a second chance at leading a better life. Equally important is reuniting families and children that have been separated through unfortunate circumstances.
I have the training but have not completed any cases yet due to COVID -19.
SSP: What do you think is the most rewarding thing about being a pediatrician at SSP?
Just the daily interactions with the children, no matter how terrible your day is going, the children lift your spirit with their innocence and warm smiles. One hectic morning, I was involved in a minor car accident on my way to work. I was late and feeling so anxious after the incident. I had to see my first patient, a 4YO girl, and just coming into the room to her bright smile and her fun, cheerful personality made my day!