Full Circle: Pipeline Program Helps Bronx Teacher Become a Doctor in the Borough that Raised Him

Dr. Eugene Palatulan often describes his life as a series of full circle moments. An Assistant Professor of Sports Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Montefiore Medical Center (MMC)/Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Einstein), Dr. Palatulan finds himself serving the community where he grew up…but this isn’t the first time.

Before coming to Montefiore, Dr. Palatulan was known by his Bronx high school students as Mr. or even Coach Palatulan. The Filipino immigrant moved to the Bronx with his family at age 13 in 1996 and attended John F. Kennedy High School. He eventually became a Biology teacher at his former high school because he wanted to “give back.” Later he taught and coached the Girls’ Varsity Basketball team at the High School of American Studies, also in the Bronx. 

While a teacher he spent summers conducting Malaria research at Columbia University’s summer research program (SRP) for teachers.  Through this program he  was selected to be part SRP’s teacher exchange program.  This offered him the opportunity  to provide professional development to educators in Malaysia and Singapore.

But Dr. Palatulan always had a burning desire to become a doctor.  Despite having what he has called an excellent liberal arts education from Swarthmore College and good grades at an Ivy League graduate school, Dr. Palatulan said his MCAT scores weren’t competitive and he didn’t quite feel ready for medical school. Enter the Associated Medical Schools of New York.

When Dr. Palatulan didn’t get accepted to his first-choice medical school – Albert Einstein College of Medicine – which is walking distance from where he lives with his wife and kids, he was devastated. But a letter soon arrived in the mail offering him conditional acceptance into Einstein if he completed AMSNY’s Post-baccalaureate program at the University of Buffalo.  Dr. Palatulan credits the program’s rigorous curriculum with helping him develop the confidence to get through medical school.

After completing his residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at New York Presbyterian Hospital in 2021 and a Sports Medicine fellowship at the University of  Pennsylvania in 2022, Dr. Palatulan was offered a job at MMC/Einstein where he is now caring for Bronx residents of all ages and walks of life, from youth to seniors and athletes of all levels. Dr. Palatulan is also helping oversee a Sports Medicine Fellowship program at MMC/Einstein. In yet another complete full circle moment, he plans to connect his medical school and current employer with student athletes from his former high school. 

“To be an academic in a teaching institution, this is the perfect job to start my career,” said Dr. Palatulan.