Two men sat on the porch together and watched as the sun set in Guadalajara, Mexico. Vibrant shades of orange and pink brushed across the sky as a gentle breeze blew softly through the crisp air.
“That was in 1976, but it’s still clear as a bell in my head still,” said Cal State Fullerton’s Chief Staff Physician and Interim Director of Health Services Dr. Richard Boucher.
He will never forget the day he was brought into the home of a complete stranger and immediately treated like family. Together, the two enjoyed the best pan dulce, frijoles and café Boucher had ever had.
The stranger was one of the many people who left a positive impression on Boucher during his journey earning his medical degree in Guadalajara.
Since he was in seventh grade, Boucher knew he wanted to be a doctor and once he had the idea in his mind, he wouldn’t have it any other way. The 23 rejections Boucher received from U.S. medical schools did not stop him from pursuing his calling. After applying over a period of two years only to be constantly turned down, he decided he would make his education happen elsewhere.
Although he said attending medical school in America would have been a great experience, he believes completing his schooling in Mexico is what brought him to where he is today.
“I enjoyed the people in Mexico, that’s what I really liked,” Boucher said. “I think that’s something we should learn from them, about giving, about familia, about casa.”
Dr. Jennie Ho, a CSUF Health Center staff physician who works with Boucher, has noticed the love he has for meeting patients and getting to know students.
“I think oftentimes people go into it for many reasons. They go into it to make money, for the prestige, but I think it’s his heart. I think that’s truly his strength, and you see that in the way he carries himself and the way he lives,” Ho said.
Boucher takes a great amount of pride in forming relationships with his patients. To him, it’s about the people and making the effort to relate and connect to them.
“If somebody told me that the world would end in one week, what I would do, I’d come to work. I know that sounds odd, but I truly believe that’s why God created me, to serve people,” Boucher said. “That’s how I feel. I know medicine is what I was meant to do.”
Sonia Leticia Vélez, Boucher’s executive assistant, has worked with him for almost two years.
“His main concern is always student’s health,” Vélez said. “He has a love for medicine that I’ve never seen in anybody else. The passion that he has working here is extraordinary.”
Boucher had his own private practice in Long Beach where he dealt with the difficulty of losing patients and the iron fist of insurance companies in his first couple years.
He decided to close his office when insurance companies interfered with treating his patients.
“There’s a reason why we train in medicine for as many years as we do, and that’s simply to give the best care we can to patients with the knowledge that we have,” Boucher said.
Cal State Fullerton is where Boucher could reconnect with why he fell in love with medicine in the first place. Here, he can spend time investing in his patients and helping them as best he can.
“The students that come into the health center, it is not their privilege to come here, it is our privilege that they come here,” Boucher said. “You have people come to see you who don’t know you, and they will put their health in your hands.”