Nancy Rodriguez, a second-year UC Davis medical student, has been honored by the American Medical Association Foundation with one of its prestigious 2016 Minority Scholars awards. She is one of only 20 students nationwide to receive the honor. The award, which includes $10,000 in tuition assistance, recognizes academic excellence, a strong commitment to improving minority health and what the foundation emphasizes as the 'outstanding promise of a future career in medicine.'
“After experiencing barriers to quality health care during childhood, Nancy understands the importance of increasing the number of physicians in communities that historically have lacked enough doctors and other health care providers,” said Darin Latimore, associate dean for Resident and Student Diversity. “Nancy connects empathetically with her patients because she often knows from experience what they are going through. Her insights into what low-income families face when seeking health care, and her exceptional gifts for engaging with patients, easing their anxieties and connecting them to the resources they need represents the best in medicine and the very ideals that the AMA wants to encourage.”
Rodriguez, whose parents emigrated from Guatemala, grew up in Southern California and graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology. She went on to earn a master’s degree in public health from Boston University, with a concentration in international health. While in Boston, Rodriguez worked on a variety of academic and community outreach efforts aimed at addressing health care challenges facing the Latino community. After finishing graduate school, she returned to Los Angeles and did more community outreach work as director of Health and Wellness at the Venice Family Clinic.
Since arriving at the School of Medicine, Rodriguez has distinguished herself with a passionate commitment to addressing health disparities, with a special focus on equity, social justice and culturally and linguistically competent care. She has served in key leadership roles for the Latino Medical Student Association, Sacramento Chapter, and currently is coordinating and implementing a medical Spanish course for students interested in improving their clinical language skills.
"Nancy is determined to increase the number of Latinos attending medical school and is passionate about getting medical students to return to underserved communities when they become physicians,” added Latimore. “She possesses the talents, skills and qualities that enable successful medical students to become exemplary physicians, which is why she is so deserving of this important award."
The AMA Foundation’s Minority Scholars Award was established to reward a student’s personal commitment to improving minority health and scholastic achievement in the form of tuition assistance to groups defined as historically underrepresented in the medical profession. The organization is committed to increasing the number of minority physicians to better reflect the needs of an increasingly diverse society. Today, approximately nine percent of U.S. physicians are African-American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Hispanic, and Native Hawaiian or from other groups historically underrepresented in the medical profession. Studies have documented the role of physician diversity in increasing access for underserved populations, increasing patient satisfaction and ensuring culturally competent care.