Spotlight - Norma Aguirre, MD
I was born in Tijuana Baja California, Mexico in April 18, 1961. I attended Medical School at Xochicalco University in Tijuana from July 2003 to June 2008 and graduated with Honors. It took me a long time because I had to support my family, but I finally fulfilled my dream. My mom died when I was seven years old and my father had to provide for eight children, so as soon as we could we all had to start working at a very young age.
My oldest sister, Maggie was my role model for studying and working. In 1980 I graduated as a lab technician and started working at the School of medicine of UABC as a lab instructor, and in 1981 I started to work at my current job in Tijuana at Hospital ISSSTECALI as a lab technician. I have been working here for 28 years this past April, 2009.
Parallel to my job in Tijuana, I decided to go back to school to become a Cardiovascular technician in the US and so I went to Grossmont College between 1997-2000 and graduated as a Student of Note (GPA: 3.8). As a result of this, I had the opportunity to apply and work at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN between April 2001 through January 2002. At the time, I was offered a more competitive position at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego and decided to comeback.
Between 2003 and 2006 I worked as a phlebotomist in an epidemiological study of migrants from Mexico into San Diego; and more recently, as part of a social service program. I had the opportunity to work as a physician in a community clinic in Tijuana, with some of the most underserved and marginalized groups, HIV/AIDS patients, sex workers and drug users. These experiences definitely caught my attention and interest in public health research.
I am currently awarded a fellowship at the University of California San Diego/CHAMPS (Center for HIV/AIDS Minory Pipeline in Substance Abuse), from January to June 2009. Throughout the training in this program, I have developed skills in research methods, manuscript writing, grantsmanship, and presentation; all of this is very important for designing and conducting HIV prevention studies relating to substance use and other comorbidities. In fact, being in the CHAMPS program, I had the opportunity to submit a grant proposal, with the title “Antimicrobial susceptibility of Neisseria gonorrhea among female sex workers who also inject drugs (FSW-IDUs) in Tijuana, Mexico” (findings are from the study, Mujer Mas Segura) and it has been funded.
To further my training in research, my goal would be to attend the CREST (Clinical Research Enhancement through Supplemental Training) program offered at UCSD, which provides comprehensive multidisciplinary training in clinical investigation. All this combined (clinical experience and training in research) will help me fulfill my future objective, to work in public health research with underserved populations.