Gabriela Gonzalez receives 2023 trainee award in Graduate Medical Education
A urology resident who is eager to help transform the medical workforce to better reflect the state’s demographics has received a top award from UC Davis Health’s Graduate Medical Education program.
Gabriela Gonzalez is the winner of the 2023 Ifeanyi Onyeji, M.D. UCDH Trainee Award in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
The annual award recognizes a resident or fellow who makes outstanding contributions to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the graduate medical education environment.
It is named in honor of a promising trainee who passed away from a medical condition during his fifth year of urologic surgery training at UC Davis Health in 2022. Onyeji was born in Nigeria, grew up in North Carolina, attended Stanford University, then Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons for medical school. He was passionate about learning and sharing his knowledge with others. Additionally, he left a significant imprint on his fellow urology co-residents.
“It’s an honor to win this award. It means a lot to me, especially because it’s in Ifeanyi’s memory, my former senior resident whom I met while interviewing and then worked closely with as an intern,” Gonzalez said. “This award reminds me of our shared passions for excellent patient care, advocacy, and mentorship.”
Gonzalez was born and raised in South Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents in a family that couldn’t always access health care.
As a teenager, she said, the lack of access to health care services and physicians from underrepresented backgrounds inspired her to pursue medicine and research and become an advocate for the underserved.
Honored to have received the 2023 Ifeanyi Onyeji, M.D. UCDH Trainee Award in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. In loving memory of our co-resident’s leadership, advocacy, and mentorship efforts. pic.twitter.com/vKqEYzbH91— Gabriela Gonzalez, MD, MPH (@GabyGonzalezMD) June 20, 2023
Gonzalez is in her fourth year of a five-year residency. She was singled out by the award committee for accomplishments that include:
- Providing leadership on local and national DEI committees, which seek to address health inequities and workforce diversity
- Conducting research and publishing over a dozen manuscripts focused on Latino urologic health inequities and workforce diversity in urology
- Participating in mentorship programming including personal statement and residency application workshops, and a urology intern bootcamp program within the Latino Medical Student Association, Urology Unbound, and other urology-focused pipeline programs
“There is no doubt that Dr. Gonzalez’s work has and will continue to improve outcomes for all patients and learners both here in our UC Davis Health community and beyond,” the award committee stated in her selection announcement, but especially for those for whom inequities exist.”
Other residents nominated for the award were:
- Zola Quao (Family Medicine and Psychiatry)
- Alyssa Ashbaugh (Dermatology)
- Hanna Snitzer (Pediatrics)
- Sahand Ghodrati (Internal Medicine)
- Ignacio Cortina Petrasic (Internal Medicine)
- Andrea Marquez (Emergency Medicine)
Blinded nominations for the award were evaluated by officers of the Resident Medical Staff Committee, deans and directors of the Office of Graduate Medical Education and Office of Student and Resident Diversity.
A lifelong commitment to diversity
Promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the medical space is unmistakably important to Gonzalez, because it leads to better health outcomes for patients.
“When you build a team of medical professionals with different skillsets, experiences, cultures and language capacities, it helps patients feel more welcome,” she said. “And it may facilitate more involvement on their end as well, such as giving them the confidence to ask questions about their care.”
Having grown up in an underserved urban part of Los Angeles, you get a certain perspective you carry with you. You learn from those experiences that are not necessarily in a textbook, such as what it means to live in a neighborhood without safe green spaces or commute to better schools outside of your neighborhood jurisdiction.”
Her views about DEI were shaped in her youth.
“Having grown up in an underserved urban part of Los Angeles, you get a certain perspective you carry with you. You learn from those experiences that are not necessarily in a textbook, such as what it means to live in a neighborhood without safe green spaces or commute to better schools outside of your neighborhood jurisdiction.”
In middle school, Gonzalez was selected to join Med-Cor, a Saturday college preparatory program for disadvantaged youth sponsored by Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California. This program piqued her interest to one day become a physician serving patients in a safety-net health care system.
Gonzalez attained her bachelor’s in molecular, cell and development biology from UCLA, then stayed there for a master’s in public health and medical school as part of the UCLA PRIME School of Medicine program.
During her undergraduate studies, she had several leadership roles within the Chicanos Latinos for Community Medicine organization which supports health fairs, provides health education at high school assemblies and promotes community outreach. While on her medical school clerkship rotations, she found a passion for urologic surgery and identified a significant need for Latino urologists. Although she only knew of one former Latina urology trainee, with the support of key mentors, she was able to start her career development.
Gonzalez envisions her future as an academic urologist providing excellent care to underserved patients, being involved in extensive research and playing a role in expanding pipeline programs for underrepresented trainees in surgery.
She’s motivated to make a difference and looks forward to further collaborating with UC Davis Health.
“It’s rewarding seeing the changes you can create,” she said.