Residency program graduates homegrown doctors, as mentorship program guides youth to medical school
YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - This pandemic has revealed the need and appreciation for our health care workers and Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) is doing its part to ensure our county has medical professionals who are homegrown and understand the needs of our community.
Dr. Alfonso Tellez graduated from YRMC's three-year Family and Community Medicine Residency.
Like many doctors, Dr.Tellez remembers the moment he found his passion for medicine.
“I think it was around 16 [or] 17, during high school I decided I wanted to learn more about medicine. My little brother is asthmatic. We were just in the jacuzzi. He had a little fall off the jacuzzi and his asthma became aggravated," he said.
The Cibola High School graduate went on to earn his medical degree from the University of Arizona.
He is now a part of the fifth graduating class of YRMC's ACGME residency, where he fell in love with sports medicine.
Dr. Tellez said, “Through medical school and through residency I really had an interest in finding out how the community was using sports to build up the community overall.”
Out of the five graduating residents, Dr. Tellez along with two others will stay in Yuma.
“It would be great to have physicians come out of Yuma and stay and build up the community,” he said.
Dr. Natalia Galarza grew up in San Luis, Arizona, and is one of YRMC ACGME's first graduating residents.
She recognized Yuma's need for physicians and co-founded the Mentor Me M.D. program with Dr. Kristina Diaz.
Mentor Me is a mentorship program for local minority students with an interest in health care.
The program pairs the hospital's junior volunteers with medical professionals, showing students one on one patient-doctor interactions and guiding them down the path to medical school.
Dr. Galarza said, “I remember applying to medical school and to college, and it is really intimidating. So you need to trust someone to even be vulnerable.”
Kenia Zepeda recently graduated from Cibola High School and will be attending Stanford University in the fall on a full-ride scholarship.
After shadowing emergency room doctors and nurses, she says she realized there are groups in her community that are underserved and underrepresented.
Kenia hopes to one day return to Yuma as a doctor and make a difference.
She said, “My community needs me. So I'm going to go and become a doctor so that I can come back and serve my community. I think it's also very important that there’s more diversity in health care. I feel patients will be more comfortable with someone they can relate to.”