Providing Care to Families Like His Own
Alejandro Tamayo, PA-C, MPH, CEHS 2016
Alejandro Tamayo lives in central California and works at 3 different clinics in the cities of Avenal, Kettleman City, and Riverdale. All three are part of a network of Federally Qualified Health Centers known as Aria Community Health Centers who mostly serve the Hispanic field worker community in Kings County.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
With a 6th and 10th grade education, my parents had limited work opportunities after immigrating to the U.S. from Mexico. Originally settling in Lompoc, CA, the “Flower Seed Capital of the World,” my parents began working in the agriculture/horticulture fields with the rest of my father’s family. Eventually my family moved to another agricultural town, the “Citrus Capital of the World”, Santa Paula, CA. From a young age, my parents taught me how to be a hard worker and to value education. While my sisters and I explored the library, they took night classes to learn English or learn how to use a computer. My parents never finished high school or got a GED certificate, but with their life teachings and the help of the Upward Bound Program at California Lutheran University, I was accepted to UCLA and given the opportunity to explore the possibility to go into science and medicine as a career.
What inspired you to become a PA?
As a student at UCLA, I volunteered with a student group named Chicanos/Latinos for Community Medicine. I was a part of many health fairs in LA County and Tecate, Mexico, which helped me build my passion for medicine and serving the Hispanic community. After undergrad, I worked for 4 years at the UCLA National Neurological AIDS Bank while at times taking night classes to further my education just like my parents did. With the encouragement of my wife and the neurologists whom I worked for, I began to consider applying to PA school and being a physician assistant. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I was lucky to have been a part of TUC’s joint MSPAS/MPH Program since their mission statement directly aligned with my personal and professional passions.
What are the sort of health care needs that you meet in Avenal?
Hypertension and Diabetes is something that I see every day in our clinics. Without health literacy, many of our patients would not be able to understand how to reduce their health risk from these chronic conditions that are present in our communities. As a bilingual provider, I am able to communicate with the monolingual Spanish speaking population in these 3 different towns and teach them about ways to either prevent or reduce their health risks. Providing care to families similar to my own, who work in the fields, makes me feel like I’m giving back to my community.
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