I am a Mexican American general internist and medical educator at UCLA and the West LA VA Medical Center. I went to Johns Hopkins for undergrad. I majored in History and German, did basic neuroscience research with Sol Snyder and lived in Chile and Cuba doing public-health and cultural studies work, respectively, before doing a Fulbright in Berlin on the development of women’s art education in Weimar Germany. I went to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where I also completed a Masters of Science in Clinical Epidemiology, with a concentration in pharmacoepidemiology and reproductive epidemiology. I did my residency in General Internal Medicine and Primary Care (UCPC Program) at UCSF, during which time I completing additional training in teaching (Kathy Julian and Maria Wamsley’s Resident Teaching Fellowship), and in social advocacy and the clinical care of underserved/underresourced populations (the Health Equities Academic and Advocacy Training Area of Distinction at San Francisco General Hospital under the guidance of Alicia Fernandez, Margaret Wheeler, and many others).
I moved to LA in 2009 to complete the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program in health services research. I had the privilege of working with Loretta Jones, Ken Wells and Jeanne Miranda on community-partnered participatory research (CPPR) to improve mental health outcomes among older minoritized and socioeconomically-disadvantaged adults in Los Angeles. I continued my work in community engagement and CPPR from 2015-2018, during which time I was fortunate to work with Michael Ong, Felica Jones of Healthy African American Families II and the VA, including CERS (Community Engagement and Reintegration Services), on a quality improvement project using CPPR to improve hospital to community care coordination for Veterans in South LA. My work focused on Veteran and community-based organization (CBO) engagement in the Leimert Park neighborhood of South Los Angeles.
At some point, and largely thanks to several key DGSOM students I worked with, I embraced my calling as an educator and made a full pivot towards medical education, guided by the sage counsel and helpful support of the very wise Clarence Braddock, Carol Mangione and Greg Brent. Going “whole hog” with med ed has brought me great joy and daily awe. In 2020, I was appointed the Early Authentic Clinical Experience (EACE) Course Director. In this role, which I love, I get to share space with lots of people, be creative and collaborative, and connect daily with meaning and purpose.
Currently, my work largely focuses on developing, implementing and evaluating curricular content and medical education pedagogy for undergraduate medical students to introduce and/or advance learner reflection, interprofessional education, community engagement, and relational science. I also get to support faculty professional development by facilitating guided conversations and skills building workshops on medical education excellence, pipeline program mentorship, and equity, diversity and inclusion. For me, being a medical educator means supporting and celebrating learners, as well as preparing a new generation of physicians to work in partnership with community to advance health and health care equity.
I will also share: I am the daughter of a psychiatric social worker (who immigrated from San Luis Potosí, Mexico to the US at the age of 18 to work to send money back home to his family) and an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher (whose grandparents were rum-runners on the Erie Canal during Prohibition). I had a pet pig when I was little and lived in Mexico, I originally wanted to be a veterinarian (my ophthalmologist told me I wouldn’t likely get in to vet school because you had to be very smart to do so), and I drive a 12-year old Subaru. I love public transportation, I thought about worm composting, and I adore libraries. I have two cats (but I am actually a dog-person), I enjoy walking around LA with my family and eating ice cream with them, and I willed myself into not being ticklish.