Dr. Monica Vela completed medical school at the Pritzker School of Medicine and is a graduate of our internal medicine residency program. She is a professor of medicine and associate vice chair for diversity within the department of medicine as well as associate dean for multicultural affairs at the Pritzker School of Medicine. She directs coursework designed to promote 1) the advocacy efforts of medical students interested in ending health disparities and 2) physician communication skills across cultures. Her coursework is the only course in the extant literature shown to improve diversity of the medical school applicants and improve the cultural climate among medical students. She has traveled across the country, teaching educators to establish similar coursework at medical schools and undergraduate campuses. She has been selected by Pritzker students for a Favorite Faculty Award six times since 2010 in recognition of her teaching skills.
Her research work spans medical education on health disparities and care of patients with limited English proficiency as well as diversity in the medical profession. She maintains an active clinical practice in the Primary Care Group where she also precepts medical students and residents. She mentors junior faculty in addressing disparities in health on the south side of Chicago. She has directed three pipeline programs targeting the promotion of minority students into scientific research and the health profession. She continues to direct CAMP I and CAMP II at the Pritzker School of Medicine.
In 2016, she was appointed Director of the Bowman Society and has drawn medical students, housestaff and faculty from across the city to attend the Inaugural Black Men in Medicine Forum held in November 2016 and the Inaugural Black and Latina Women in Medicine Forum in February 2017. In 2012, she received the American College of Physician’s National Award for Diversity and Access to Care. In 2014, she received the Society of General Internal Medicine National Herbert Nickens Award for Diversity and Minority Health, the inaugural Alpha Omega Alpha Fellow in Leadership Award and the University of Chicago Distinguished Faculty Award for Community Service.