Ferrin Ruiz ’08 Balances Medicine and Dance

By Mirabella Miller ’24

Ferrin Ruiz '08 poses with two other people after her performance of Sleeping Beauty

For Ferrin Ruiz ’08, combining her passion for medicine and dance has always been a balancing act, albeit an endlessly rewarding one. She graduated from Scripps with a dual major in dance and biology on the movement studies track before continuing her education at Yale School of Medicine. She credits her commitment to dance at Scripps for helping her stand out in a highly qualified pool of medical school applicants.

“During orientation week at Yale, the dean of students read a compilation that included one line from every student’s personal statement,” Ruiz remembers. “My line had to do with ballet teaching me to not only balance on my toes, but also to balance the demands of life.  Everyone who applied to Yale had an incredible GPA and MCAT score. Dance helped set me apart.”

Initially, Ruiz wanted to pursue plastic surgery with the goal of doing reconstructive facial surgery for patients with facial abnormalities. But halfway through medical training, she realized what an incredible time commitment surgery was. While figuring out how to pivot, she returned to the principle of balance.

She transitioned into becoming double board certified in both internal medicine and pediatrics, a combination often shorthanded as “MedPeds” in the medical community. She discovered that it was her true calling, enabling her to combine community and medicine into a career with enough work-life balance to also be a dancer and a mother. She is now a primary care physician in East Los Angeles while raising two boys and continuing to dance in productions at her home studio, Long Beach Ballet.

Primary care is not without its challenges. Ruiz’s practice in East LA addresses a gamut of health conditions, and she assists with everything from well-child vaccines to colds to diabetes management. Navigating burnout and an overburdened health care system is difficult. However, for Ruiz, knowing her patients well as individuals and having continuity with them and their families is what sustains her work.

“When you have known a patient for years and get to see their successes with their health, that’s incredibly special,” she says. “Walking into a room and already knowing the patient, their mom, their cousin, and their neighbor, is so rewarding.”

She keeps her passion for dance alive by participating in a variety of spring and winter shows with Long Beach Ballet, including The Nutcracker and, most recently, Sleeping Beauty.

“I have no intention of putting pointe shoes on ever again,” she says. “But it is such a thrill to be a part of a beautiful production and get to use my body.”

Scripps was a crucial stepping stone on Ruiz’s path to medical school, and pursuing a dual major helped her synthesize two of her passions. But the most memorable part of Scripps for her was the friendships she built during her time here.

“I have a group of women that were with me when I opened my acceptance letters to medical school and stood by me at my wedding, and now we are all raising kids together,” she says. “They are friendships that will last a lifetime.”