Scripps Mercy Medical Resident Serves Underserved Communities

Melissa Campos, MD, awarded a scholarship to participate in a family medicine emerging leader program

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Cultural and communication barriers sometimes hinder the underserved communities from getting the right health care. Melissa Campos, a second year family medicine resident at Scripps Mercy Chula Vista, saw this firsthand.


“I am Mexican-American, and growing up, my family had a lot of mistrust in physicians and the medical establishment,” shares Campos. “They thought doctors wouldn’t do anything. Instead, my family would use home remedies. I remember not getting a lot of exposure to doctors.”


“When my grandfather was diagnosed with liver cancer, he didn’t want to see a doctor,” says Campos. She attributes her grandfather’s hesitation to seek medical care to not being able to relate to his doctor and not feeling comfortable with communicating, since he only spoke Spanish.


This experience has fueled her passion for underserved medicine and is the platform for her project with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Foundation. Campos was awarded a scholarship from the AAFP Foundation to attend their national convention and take part in their Family Medicine Leads Emerging Leader Institute, a year-long program that focuses on leadership development for the future leaders of family medicine. For her project, she chose to focus on policy and public health leadership.


“My passion, in addition to underserved medicine, is mentoring and working with young students within the underserved community,” says Campos. Currently, the Scripps Mercy Family Medicine Residency Program works with high schools in the community and mentors students to encourage interest in the medical industry. “I want to add an advocacy and public health component to our mentorship. For my project, my idea is to host workshops with students to show them what public health is about, have them assess their community and come up with an idea of what type of intervention needs to be done in their community. I want to help empower the high school students to say, ‘Yes, I can do this one day.’”


Campos will work with an assigned mentor as she completes her project. These projects will be evaluated with award recognition, a chance to receive another scholarship, and the opportunity to present the project at next year’s national conference.


“Up-and-coming leaders like Dr. Campos have the power to transform health care in America – we learned as much from her as she learned from us,” says Dr. Jason Marker, president of AAFP Foundation. “This opportunity helped her build her leadership skill set and should accelerate her ability to impact her patients, her community and the wider healthcare systems she will work in. We couldn’t be happier to have her participation.”


Did you know that Scripps has been training physicians longer than any other institution in San Diego? For nearly 70 years, physicians in our Graduate Medical Education programs have helped care for the underserved. As part of their training, residents provide care at Mercy Clinic and other community clinics for low-income, underinsured and uninsured patients.


“The program is really unique. It’s nice to train here at Chula Vista and San Diego,” says Campos. “We’re really dedicated to working with the underserved population. The community is grateful and appreciates that many of the residents speak their language, are in tune with their cultural values and needs, and understand where they’re coming from.”

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