Our Program

A letter from our Program Director

We are in the midst of a health care workforce shortage. In 2009, the Affordable Care Act set aside approximately $230 million dollars to encourage the development of primary care residency training in ambulatory health centers, community health centers and Federally Qualified Health Centers. Research has shown graduates from these programs are more likely to practice in underserved environments, which significantly positively impacts the health care workforce shortage.

Our Family Medicine Residency Program is a community-based training program located in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego. City Heights, the most ethnically diverse community in San Diego and one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the nation, is called home by a large number of refugees and immigrants including Latino, Somali, Vietnamese and Cambodian peoples. The clinic, which houses our residents’ continuity clinic, provides approximately 82,000 patient visits annually and has both the Joint Commission Patient-Centered Medical Home Designation and NCQA Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition. City Heights was selected by the California Endowment as one of 14 Building Healthy Communities sites in California. The sites were chosen “based on social determinants of health data used to identify areas that are impacted by poor health outcomes, but have the potential to inspire policy changes to create a healthy environment for all Californians.” What better way to understand the impact of social determinants of health and learn how to improve health care outcomes than to practice in an underserved environment where those determinants are front and center?

Our core curriculum for residency training is within our FQHC system. Family Health Centers of San Diego is one of the nation’s ten largest FQHCs. We are the largest health care safety-net provider, school-based health care provider and HIV/AIDs services provider in the San Diego region. We operate 49 sites across San Diego County and our services include primary care and behavioral health clinics, dental and vision care, physical therapy services, an outpatient substance use treatment program, mobile medical units and a pharmacy. We provide care to over 215,000 patients each year; over 90% are low income and 29% are uninsured. We provide Title X sexual and reproductive health care services to over 42,000 patients per year.

We partner with Scripps Mercy Hospital, Rady Children’s Hospital and University of California San Diego Medical Center for inpatient medicine, surgical and elective experiences. Rady Children’s Hospital is the largest children’s hospital in California and is ranked in all 10 pediatric specialties surveyed by U.S. News & World Report. Scripps Mercy Hospital, which cares for an urban underserved population where approximately 75% of patients are uninsured or underinsured, is recognized for high performance in 12 specialties. Additionally, FHCSD serves as a primary teaching institution for the University of California San Diego, School of Medicine, UCSD Pediatric and Medicine Residency Programs, and the Scripps Mercy Transitional Year Residency Program.

We have unique curriculum tracks which cater to our special populations. Our HIV track allows for residents to have a longitudinal experience in our HIV clinic and, upon completion, our residents sit for the AAHIVM certification exam and are able to practice as HIV specialists. Through our Global Health Area of Concentration, residents learn how to build capacity for refugees, participate in an international elective and attend the AAFP Global Health Summit. Residents on our Sports Medicine Track participate in longitudinal Sports Medicine Clinics with our Sports Medicine faculty and attend the AMSSM National Conference. Our Integrative Medicine Track teaches residents how to meld various approaches to patient care. All of our residents participate in innovative curriculum including Trauma-Informed Care, Medication-Assisted Treatment and Transgender Medicine. Community-based ambulatory health care is the future of medicine in the United States, and we are excited to lead the way. Our program provides the highest-quality education in a real-world setting to improve the health disparities of our community’s most vulnerable patients. If community medicine, underserved medicine, social determinants of health and improving health care disparities and health care workforce shortages energizes you, then we invite you to apply!

FHCSD – Where YOU can be Exceptional in Every Way!

Thao Tran, M.D., FAAFP
Program Director


A Letter from our Chiefs: Who We Are & What We Do

Warm greetings from sunny San Diego!

Thank you for taking the time to visit the Family Health Centers of San Diego Family Medicine Residency Program website. As chief residents who love this program, we’d like to take a moment to share with you what drew us here and why we feel so fortunate to be a part of it today. Before we dive in, we’d like to provide a brief history of the program and mission of the broader organization, deeply rooted in anti-racism and social justice.

FHCSD has an inspiring origin story in and of itself. FHCSD was founded in 1970 through the advocacy of dedicated local Latina leader Laura Rodriguez. She and a group of community activists sought to bring much-needed medical services to Barrio Logan, an underserved, predominantly Mexican-American community in the heart of San Diego. A more in-depth story can be found at our organization’s main website, www.fhcsd.org. Today, FHCSD has grown from the Chicano Free Clinic into one of the nation’s ten largest Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), serving over 213,000 patients annually and ranked among the top 20% in the country by clinical quality metrics.

Over 40 years later and continuing in the tradition of care for the urban underserved, our residency program was born out of the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education Program during the Obama administration. This grant awards funds to community health centers to create training programs in hopes of addressing the primary care shortage in communities with the greatest need. The idea of a residency program within FHCSD began long before this, a dream cultivated by our esteemed CEO, Fran Butler-Cohen, and our passionate founding faculty.

Our residents work primarily out of the City Heights clinic, an accredited patient-centered medical home serving one of the most diverse and underserved communities in San Diego. We take care of those who need it most; the income of 90% of our patients is below or near the federal poverty level. Our patients and their families come from all over the world—nearly half (42.4%) of people currently living in City Heights were born outside of the United States. In a sense, it feels like practicing global medicine without leaving the country, taking care of migrants, immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, no matter their legal status. In recent years, some of the most represented groups in City Heights include Latinx, Somali, Ethiopian, Congolese, Vietnamese, Haitian, Iraqi, Syrian, Afghan, Burmese, Laotian and Cambodian individuals and families, with over 41 languages spoken in our clinic! This global diversity enriches us all.

Additionally, our inpatient rotations are at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest, which functions as a safety net for the city, including many people experiencing homelessness and substance use disorders. This experience affords further expertise in caring for the underserved in a variety of settings.

Since its infancy in 2014, our program has blossomed into a robust, competitive and enriching site to train in the practice of community-based urban underserved family medicine. The program strives not only to produce strong, competent family physicians, but also community leaders. The program has delivered on its promise to create a new generation of highly qualified community medicine physicians dedicated to the care of everyone, with a special commitment to people who are un- or underinsured, low-income and medically underserved.

Among numerous curricular strengths in our program, our HIV track stands out as a unique opportunity for interested residents to pursue during their training. While all residents learn HIV primary care and rotate through The Night Clinic, caring for LGBTQ communities including primary care for trans individuals, two or more residents are selected each year and become board certified as HIV specialists and learn a great deal about hepatitis treatment as well. Other tracks and areas of concentration include: Global Medicine, Sports Medicine and Integrative Medicine. The program is young, dynamic and constantly evolving. Past residents have started the above tracks to align their educational experiences with their career interests. Residents and faculty are continually looking at ways to improve the program and resident ideas quickly translate to change. For instance, in 2020, with the leadership of a former chief and current faculty member, we have integrated medication assisted treatment (MAT) training for people with opioid use disorder into our routine curriculum. We are currently working on expanding our didactics curriculum to include education regarding structural racism within the medical community and developing new strategies to help combat the sequela from generations of discrimination and bias within medicine. We are passionate about social justice and strive to be part of this paradigm shift surrounding recognizing inequalities amongst various groups that had previously been disregarded and further diversifying our own program to include those groups often underrepresented in medicine.

Lastly, the close-knit feel of the residency community is palpable even to prospective residents during interviews and social gatherings, and it is truly one of the aspects of this program that sets it apart. We enjoy a healthy work-life balance, with San Diego providing endless opportunities for hiking, beaches, watersports, museums, restaurants, breweries and more. The list goes on! We are both so proud to be a part of the FHCSD FMRP family, surrounded by inspiring residents and faculty who are leaders in our community. We could not be more excited to share our love for this program with you.

Sincerely,

Raquel Cornejo Pina, M.D. & Justin Thai, M.D.
Chief Residents, Class of 2022

Residency Goals

  • To develop outstanding physicians who are prepared to provide comprehensive and continuous primary medical care in a variety of settings
  • To foster effective interpersonal and communication skills with patients, their families and health professionals
  • To develop physicians who understand and put into practice up-to-date medical knowledge
  • To foster professionalism
  • To foster self-learning and self-improvement
  • To achieve certification by the American Board of Family Medicine
  • To develop leaders who will work within their communities to improve patient care
  • To create a new generation of highly qualified community medicine physicians dedicated to the care of everyone, with a special commitment to uninsured, low-income and medically underserved persons
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