(Originally published in Interdisciplinary MPH Program Alumni and Student News, Fall 2011)
Alice Mills MD, MPH ’05 writes: “Greetings Interdisciplinary MPH friends! I hope you are well. It’s nice to have this opportunity to say hello and share a little bit of my journey with you.
“Initially, my path in medicine seemed quite traditional and straightforward. Following medical school and a residency in family practice, I became an outpatient primary care physician, seeing patients in the office for acute and chronic conditions. While I loved my patients, colleagues and staff, part of me longed for something a little different. In addition to caring for individual patients, I was also interested in the “bigger picture” of how to understand and care for the health of a community. As I continued to reflect on this, it became clear that I wanted to pursue additional training in public health.
“Often, students or colleagues in medicine ask me what I gained from my time in the Interdisciplinary MPH Program. I begin by telling them that I left with a new perspective on health—looking at health on the population level and also examining the multiple determinants of health. I share with them about being introduced to different research tools that have helped me in all aspects of my work. And I tell them about the amazing group of people (like you) that I interacted with and learned from while attending the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
“After completing my MPH, I moved to the Pasadena area in Southern California for a year, due to my husband’s work. Since it was only a year, I spent the time doing per diem clinical work and helping a little with some research projects. When my husband’s job moved us to San Diego, I considered my next career step and—to my own surprise— decided to pursue a second residency. This time, it was a residency in general preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), which included coursework at San Diego State University (SDSU). Through funding from the American Cancer Society, I spent the two ears involved in clinical work, research and teaching, with a focus on cancer prevention and control. This second residency allowed me to integrate my clinical, public health and research interests. It was also a good introduction to the San Diego area and all the different institutions here. (Thankfully, I did not need to be on-call!)
“Following completion of my preventive medicine training I joined the faculty at UCSD in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. I love my job and especially the opportunity to be involved in different aspects of preventive medicine and to work with many wonderful people. My current clinical work is with newly-arrived refugees to San Diego County through a partnership with the County Public Health Department. Along with other clinicians from UCSD, I assist with a refugee health assessment program which includes screening, educating and referring patients to appropriate healthcare and community resources. In this setting, I also enjoy being a preceptor to residents and medical students. I continue to be involved in cancer prevention research, primarily looking at trends in tobacco use and in smoke-free homes in the U.S. Soon I hope to add breast cancer research and outreach to my cancer focus. In addition, I am the assistant director of the UCSD general preventive medicine residency program. In this role I help our residents build on past training and gain new tools and experiences that will allow them to reach their career goals in medicine and public health. Our graduates find themselves in a wide range of settings, from community clinics to government agencies to academia. At the UCSD School of Medicine I have opportunities to work with residents from other specialties, as well as medical students and pre-med students.
“Outside of work, I love spending time with my family in beautiful San Diego—although it’s cloudy and rainy as I write this! Steve and I have a four-year-old son named Christopher. He’s a happy, energetic little boy who is at a very fun age right now. We enjoy going to the San Diego Zoo, the parks, the library and just hanging out with friends.”