What is your hometown?
I was born and raised in Oxnard, California and I now live a few miles away in Camarillo, California.
What is your official title?
Physician in Charge, Oxnard Medical Office Building & Oxnard Urgent Care Clinic for Kaiser Permanente, Southern California Permanente Medical Group
How/when did you become interested in science and medicine?
At the age of thirteen I volunteered as a candy striper at the local hospital. After I translated for a physician and patient, I realized how great it felt to help someone else feel better. I also discovered that my ability to speak Spanish played a pivotal role in the physician-patient communication, and saw how important it was in rendering culturally competent care and in obtaining the proper diagnosis and treatment.
What interested you to pursue a career in medicine and medical education?
After volunteering in the hospital that summer I was able to witness the various roles that health care professionals had in patient care. The role of a physician suited my personality and skills best. In college, I went on to participate in various health pre-professional summer programs, such as the University of Southern California Health Pre-Professional Program and the Harvard Health Professions Program. There, I was exposed to mentorship and fellowship that inspired me to continue pursuing a medical career. Above all, my parents, husband and family were my mainstay of support and inspiration and were always there to carry me through the obstacles and rough times that came my way.
Please highlight your major career achievements, awards, discoveries, etc.
This year marks my 20th year with Kaiser Permanente. My major career achievement was fulfilling my lifetime dream of coming back to my home town, and practicing where I was born and raised as a fourth generation Ventura County native. Four years ago, I was one of the first physicians to expand Kaiser Permanente to West Ventura County. Seven months after opening the Oxnard Clinic, Kaiser Permanente merged with a local medical group and expanded its size tremendously and is now rendering health care to over 40,000 members. It is by far both my biggest career challenge, and the accomplishment that I am most proud of.
Is there a teacher, mentor or UI Carver College of Medicine faculty member who has helped shape your education?
Dr. Charles Driscoll (67BS, 71MD) who was Chief of Family Practice at Iowa, Dr. Richard Wentzel, who was in Infectious Disease, Dr. Robert Young, a Family Practitioner in Cedar Rapids, Dr. Deborah Turner (78MD, 82R-Ob/Gyn) and Scharron Laisure (80PhD-Education).
How or why did you choose the University of Iowa for your education and medical training?
I was honored to have been accepted to such a highly ranked school with an excellent reputation. I was most impressed with the personalized attention I received during the recruitment process. I felt like I was treated like a person and not just a number. The student support services for minority students and financial aid packet was unlike any other offer that I had received.
What kind of professional opportunities or advantages has your University of Iowa medical training provided?
When I was a fourth year medical student I sought out externships and electives in the Los Angeles area. I was very well received with my Iowa medical education background and had no problems getting my top choices. I also felt that graduating from such a highly respected medical school afforded me the opportunity to match at one of the most competitive Family Practice residency programs; at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles. Still today I have patients that say they selected me as their physician because I graduated from the University of Iowa. I am very proud to be a graduate from the UI Carver College of Medicine.
Please describe your professional interests.
As a full time physician, I enjoy practicing Family Medicine with a large Spanish speaking and Latino population and many young families. I have a significant pediatric and gynecological practice. I am also the Physician In Charge for the Oxnard Medical Office Building and spend 20% of my time (albeit more) with my administrative duties. I equally enjoy representing Kaiser Permanente out in the community. I am the Physician Champion for the Hippocrates Circle Program in West Ventura County, which is a student-physician mentorship program for Junior High Students interested in the health care field. I also serve on the Kaiser Permanente Oliver Goldsmith Medical Student Scholarship Committee, where we reward 2nd and 3rd year medical students for their volunteer community service in underserved populations. I am also on the Grant Review Committee for Kaiser Permanente which donates money to support local charities and free clinics. I also volunteer doing sports physicals for the local high school athletic programs. I enjoy speaking at the local schools to motivate students to attend college and further their education in health related fields. I speak to local community groups on various health topics such as stress management, health, fitness and nutrition.
What are some of your outside interests?
I am a member of the National Charity League, which is a mother-daughter philanthropic organization, where I volunteer in such activities as Relay for Life, American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, Special Olympics and the Douglas Penfield School for the Developmentally Delayed. I am also a member of the Las Patronas Auxiliary of the Assistance League where we raise money to support a local preschool for underserved children. For fun, I love to spend time with my husband, Steve, and three teenagers, Stephanie, Steve, Jr., and Stacie. I enjoy attending and cheering them on at all of their sporting events. We love to travel, swim in our pool, BBQ and bake. I also enjoy my early morning spin classes at the gym. In my spare time I love to garden, read historical fiction and watch I Love Lucy reruns.
Do you have an insight or philosophy that guides you in your professional work?
"Love what you do, and do it your best. Give back."
If you could change one thing about the health care system in the United States, what would it be?
I would create affordable health care for all. I wish I could see fewer patients and spend more time with each one. For that, we would need twice as many doctors to see all the patients.
What is the biggest change you've experienced in medicine since you were a student?
Electronic Medical Records. The secretarial skills that I developed while putting myself through graduate school have been invaluable to me now that everything is done on computers.
What one piece of advice would you give to today's medical students?
"Do what you love and don't forget the people that got you where you're at". "Live, Love and Laugh (and pray) all the time." Give back.
What do you see as "the future" of the medicine?
Everything and everybody will be computerized. Expenses will continue to rise. Maybe, everybody would consider following the Kaiser Permanente model of an integrated system to control costs. Communication and cooperation with one another reduces costs and gives great care.
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