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    2015 Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award

    Elisabeth Wilson, MD, MPH, University of California, San Francisco

    Elisabeth Wilson, MD, MPH, inspires a sense of belonging, purpose, and worth in her students, her colleagues, her patients, and sometimes even strangers on the street.

    One student tells of a particularly bad day and the chance encounter with Dr. Wilson on the sidewalk at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), that changed her life. Dr. Wilson approached the student, who was having an internal dialogue about leaving medical school, and asked if she needed to talk. “If it wasn’t for that fateful day … and her fierce belief that people like me can change medicine, I would not have made it into residency,” she recalls.

    This student is one of dozens who consider Dr. Wilson a mentor and an inspiration. “Everyone shines when they are in her company, and that is the mark of a great leader,” another notes.

    Dr. Wilson began her career as a coordinator for an art gallery. In her mid-20s, she was motivated to pursue medicine after the loss of her partner to cancer. She completed her MD and MPH at Tufts University, then returned to California for a family medicine residency at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), where she witnessed dramatic social and health inequities first-hand. 

    Now professor and vice chair of education in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UCSF, Dr. Wilson shares her passion for health equity with learners. Medical students and family medicine residents witness a model physician who partners with her patients, listening fully to their needs and collaborating with them to determine the best possible treatment. Previously, Dr. Wilson was the program director for UCSF’s Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved (PRIME-US), a longitudinal track for medical students from diverse backgrounds interested in working with urban underserved populations. She now serves as the PRIME-US mentorship director.

    Dr. Wilson is a respected advocate for social justice, fighting for inclusivity and equity on the national stage. As a member of the Health Resources and Services Administration Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, Dr. Wilson advocated for the designation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities as medically underserved.

    In the Bay Area, Dr. Wilson also works to promote opportunities for assisting the underserved. She has served on the community advisory boards of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, Huckleberry Youth, and Clinic by the Bay.

    Dr. Wilson’s scholarship focuses on health care disparities and medical workforce diversity. She has published studies on medical student attitudes toward health disparities, patient perceptions of racial discrimination, and the value of pipeline programs in diversifying the medical workforce.