Medical student receives national recognition for leadership in ...
NEWS | November 5, 2012

Medical student receives national recognition for leadership in tackling health disparities


Olivia Marie Campa, a third-year medical student at the UC Davis School of Medicine, is one of five students nationwide receiving a 2012 Herbert W. Nickens Medical Student Scholarship award today at the annual meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges in San Francisco. This is the third year in a row that a UC Davis medical student has been honored with the prestigious $5,000 award. The association's scholarships recognize outstanding students who have shown leadership in efforts to eliminate inequities in medical education and health care and in addressing educational, societal and health-care needs of minorities.

Olivia Campa © UC Regents Olivia Campa © UC Regents

"Ms. Campa has distinguished herself as an exemplary leader in her efforts to reduce the inequities in health care and education that minorities have long faced, particularly in the Latino community," said Darin Latimore, assistant dean for student and resident diversity at UC Davis Health System. "As a future physician, she has participated and shown initiative in social and medical research aimed at improving care to underserved populations, including incarcerated women with mental illness. She is a highly focused, mature and compassionate individual who truly inspires others through her dedication and enthusiasm for helping people in need."

After arriving at medical school in 2010, Campa immediately began volunteering at Clinica Tepati, a nonprofit, student-run clinic that cares for socioeconomically disadvantaged and medically underserved Latinos in the greater Sacramento area. She quickly became co-director of the clinic, which required a considerable commitment of time and included numerous responsibilities above and beyond her medical school coursework. Campa was well known for caring deeply for patients, spending time outside of clinic coordinating additional care with specialists at UC Davis Medical Center, tracking critical laboratory results and deftly handling unexpected clinical operational issues. She also became an important role model for undergraduate volunteers, most of whom were from UC Davis and also are dreaming of pursuing careers in health care. 

Campa is the first person in her family to graduate from college, which stems from her dedicated study habits throughout high school and college. Since coming to the School of Medicine, she has been extremely active in the Latino Medical Student Association and has focused on helping other minority students from low-income families find a pathway to success. As a mentor, she has coordinated activities for young adults from underrepresented backgrounds interested in pursuing careers in health care. She established a library of support materials and resources for Latinos on a range of topics related to overcoming obstacles to entering medical school, and it is now being compiled into a book that will be distributed to UC Davis and Sacramento State University undergraduate students from disadvantaged backgrounds.  

Campa is dedicated to delivering high-quality, compassionate care.  She has made extra efforts to connect with patients, especially those who have needs beyond their physical problems. During her summer break in 2011, she worked on a research project aimed at changing the model for psychiatric health-care delivery for incarcerated women with mental illness. In addition, Campa previously was program director for the Alzheimer's Research Center at the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Administration, where she worked closely with geriatric patients. The experience has led her to seriously consider a career in geriatric medicine.  

Campa is an exceptional student who has received awards, research fellowships and scholarships for academic excellence and community service during her undergraduate and medical school years. She was one of only five students in her medical school class to receive honors in hands-on clinical courses during her first two years. She also was selected by her peers to receive the 2012 Community Service Award for her work with the Latino Medical Student Association.

"Ms. Campa has a maturity and focus that distinguishes her among medical students," added Latimore. "Her compassion, intellectual curiosity and results-oriented approach to health-care challenges have already enabled her to identify innovative solutions and leverage resources to help underserved patients. She will be an outstanding physician."

The UC Davis School of Medicine is among the nation's leading medical schools, recognized for its research and primary-care programs. The school offers fully accredited master's degree programs in public health and in informatics, and its combined M.D.-Ph.D. program is training the next generation of physician-scientists to conduct high-impact research and translate discoveries into better clinical care. Along with being a recognized leader in medical research, the school is committed to serving underserved communities and advancing rural health. For more information, visit UC Davis School of Medicine at