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UC San Diego Psychiatry Residency Diversity Committee


The UC San Diego Psychiatry Residency Program is committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion among our trainees and faculty. We are committed to developing psychiatrists who possess cultural humility and structural competence and who provide excellent and equitable care for all patients.


We define diversity broadly as the representation of all of our individual differences including but not limited to race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, and sexual orientation. We aim to recruit, retain, and advance physicians from all backgrounds including traditionally underrepresented groups to better reflect and respond to the needs of our vibrant patient population in San Diego.


Recognizing that structural inequities continue to persist, both in our community and in our institution, we strive to identify and challenge inequities within our program and ensure that all faculty and trainees receive fair treatment and equal opportunity. We recognize that trainees and faculty from groups underrepresented in medicine face a unique set of challenges. Fostering equity includes being sensitive to those challenges and providing support and resources to help overcome them. We also believe that all patients deserve high quality health care. To promote both of these endeavors, we aim to educate physicians who actively work to understand the social determinants of health. Through advocacy, clinical training, didactic curriculum, and community outreach, we aim to train physician leaders who improve the health of our communities.


We seek to create and maintain a culture of respect, safety, and acceptance. We seek trainees and faculty who are open to critically examining their own implicit biases as well as those who help bring attention to policies and structural barriers to inclusion in our program. We believe that the inclusion of varied perspectives, including those that have historically been marginalized, fosters a more stimulating and productive training environment and ultimately enhances our ability to build empathy and provide quality care for our patients.


Areas of focus:
  • Education
    Our goal is to promote an anti-racist agenda within our curriculum to better our practice as psychiatrists. We aim to challenge our own biases and further educate ourselves on how to combat racism in clinical care. See below for more information on our diversity curriculum.
  • Community Outreach/Mentorship
    Underrepresented in medicine (URM) means those racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in the medical profession relative to their numbers in the general population. As such, we understand the importance of providing mentorship to both UCSD URM medical students and pre-med students. Additionally, we seek to empower the patients and communities we serve by being engaged in different community activities.
  • Recruitment and Retention
    San Diego is a diverse county that houses over 3 million individuals of varying backgrounds, races, ethnicities, languages, and immigration/asylee statuses. It is imperative to the health and success of our patients that both our trainees and faculty reflect the diversity of the communities that we serve. Given this, we are committed to holding our department accountable for creating and upholding recruitment and retention policies and procedures that are actively fair, equitable, and anti-racist. We look forward to engaging prospective residents in discussion on diversity and inclusion at UCSD in recruitment programming this season.

Diversity in San Diego

San Diego County is home to an incredibly diverse community of 3.2 million residents of various backgrounds. According to the Health and Human Services Agency, the race/ethnicity breakdown is as follows: 33.4% Hispanic, 46.2% White, 4.7% Black, 11.9% Asian/Pacific Islander, and 0.4% American Indian/Alaskan Natives. San Diego also has a large immigrant/asylee population and 23.6% of residents are foreign born. Approximately 9.8% have disabilities including cognitive difficulties. Due to the presence of the naval base, the county also has a relatively large veteran population (9.1%). Furthermore, 18.5% of the population are at or below 130% of FPL and 10.4% of the population do not have health insurance. According to City of San Diego 2020 WeAllCount Results, 17% of residents are chronically homeless and of those individuals, 8% are youth and 8% are veterans

Diversity Committee Leadership

Lawrence Malak, M.D.

Lawrence Malak, M.D.
Faculty Chair




michelle-singhMichelle Singh, D.O.
Faculty Chair





Lauzon-headshotVanessa Lauzon, M.D.
Faculty Chair


Neha Akkor, M.D.

Neha Akkor, M.D.
Resident Chair

Sahana MalikSahana Malik, M.D.
Diversity Chief




Elizabeth ZoBellZoey Zobell, M.D.
Resident Co-Chair

Diversity Curriculum

Our diversity curriculum includes relevant topics, such as:

  • social determinants of health,
  • structural competency,
  • healthcare disparities,
  • racism in psychiatry, and
  • anti-racist approaches to psychiatric care.

These topics are presented during Resident Rounds for the psychiatry residency program and Grand Rounds for the psychiatry department.

All lecturers for our program are requested to submit DEI related considerations related to their presentations regardless of subject matter.

We also meet regularly for social justice journal clubs during which we critically discuss topics, such as human trafficking and incarceration.

Scholarly Activity

  • Alderman, T., J. Addington, C. Bearden, T.D. Cannon, B.A. Cornblatt, T.H. McGlashan, D.O. Perkins, L.J. Seidman, M.T. Tsuang, E.F. Walker, S.W. Woods, and Cadenhead, K.S. Negative symptoms and impaired social functioning predict later psychosis in Latino youth at clinical high risk in the North American prodromal longitudinal studies consortium. Early Interv Psychiatry, 2014.
  • Chlebowski, C., Magaña, S., Wright, B., Brookman-Frazee, L. Implementing an intervention to address challenging behaviors for autism spectrum disorder in publicly-funded mental health services: Therapist and parent perceptions of delivery with Latinx families. Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol (2018).
  • Cesarz, A., Postlethwaite, A., Wu, M., Ranjan Dube, A., Sturner, R. "El No Es Mi Padre": A Discussion of the Practical and Ethical Dilemmas in the Case of a Psychotic Immigrant Teen. Accepted for presentation as a clinical case conference at annual American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry meeting in San Francisco, October 2020. 
  • Kim, K., Park, J. Attitudes toward suicide among college students in South Korea and the United States. Int J Ment Health Syst 8, 17 (2014). 
  • Malik, S., Amendolara, B., Badre, N. (2020, Jul 20). ‘Defund the police’: An important moment for society and psychiatry. MDedge. 
  • Malik, S. (2021, Jul 28). Let's talk about race. MDedge.
  • Mahmood Z, Kelsven S, Cadenhead K, Wyckoff J, Reyes-Madrigal F, de la Fuente-Sandoval C, Twamley EW. Compensatory Cognitive Training for Latino Youth at Clinical High Risk for Psychosis: Study Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial. Frontiers in psychiatry. 2019;10:951.
  • Stephanie Martinez, MD, Tarina Quraishi, MD, Eric Rafla Yuan, MD, Priti Ojha, MD, Lawrence Malak, MD. Psychiatric Decompensation From New Immigration Policies and Enforcement at the United States – Mexico Border. American Psychiatric Association Annual Conference; New York, NY, May 2018
  • Pierce, K., Shapiro, G., Song, S., Fortuna, L., Postlethwaite, A., Cesarz, A., Feder, J. Youth at the border: Do NO MORE Harm. Accepted for presentation as a clinical perspective at the annual American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Meeting in San Francisco, October 2020. 
  • Eric Rafla-Yuan, MD, Michael Degroot, MD, Deanna Rafla-Yuan, JD, Adam Mehis, MS. Psychiatry at the Border: Translating Between Politics and Medicine in the Trump Era; American Psychiatric Association Annual Conference; San Francisco, CA, May 2019
  • Eric Rafla-Yuan, Asher Aladjem, Henry Wiesman, Adel Zaraa, Mary Ann Cohen. Ethical and Psychiatric Challenges in the Treatment of and Advocacy for the Displaced Individual— a Collaborative Bioethics and Global Health SIGs Symposium; Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine Annual Conference; Palm Springs, CA, Nov 2017
  • Rafla-Yuan, E., Ma, J. (2020, Aug 4).A Southern California outbreak highlights failures of the American health care system. KevinMD. 
  • Rafla-Yuan, E., Chhabra, D. K., & Mensah, M. O. Decoupling crisis response from policing — a step toward equitable psychiatric emergency services. New England Journal of Medicine, 2021. 
  • Rafla-Yuan, E. I can't breathe. Academic Psychiatry, 2021.
  •  Rafla-Yuan, E., De La Torre, K., Espana, K., Tarrant, B., & Mensah, M. Navigating the path to equity within academic institutions - applying the evidence and trainee experiences to collaboratively build best practices. Recorded CME Lecture, 2021 APA On Demand.
  • Rafla-Yuan, E. Displaced –  A physician's primer to refugee policy and its effects on mental health. Recorded CME Lecture, 2020 APA On Demand.
  • Malik, Sahana, Zobell, Elizabeth, Rafla-Yuan, Eric. Implementing Structural Competency Education in Psychiatry Residency Training. American Psychiatric Association Annual Conference; New Orleans, May 2022
  • Malik, S. Cabrera, A. Shirazi, A, Malak, L., Cadenhead, K. Implementing a Holistic Review for Psychiatry Residency Screening and Interview. Oral Presentation at American Psychiatric Association Conference, San Francisco, May 21, 2023.
  • Changala, M. Development of the Medical Legal ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outreach) Program to Support Training in Asylum Medicine. North American Refugee Health Conference 2023. Calgary, Alberta.
  • Akkoor, L. Muhammad. Splitting the Splitting: Borderline Personality Disorder Between East and West.Ecologies of Mind: Practices that Harm, Practices that Heal-Joint Meeting of the Society for Psychological Anthropology and the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture. San Diego, CA. April 2023. 
  • Muhammad, N. Fettinger, N. Caballero,N. Akkoor. What Goes Around Comes Around: Do Cultural Psychiatrists Need to Remove Some Psychiatric Diagnoses from the DSM6?. Ecologies of Mind: Practices that Harm, Practices that Heal-Joint Meeting of the Society for Psychological Anthropology and the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture. San Diego, CA. April 2023.


  • Department of Psychiatry Diversity event calendar
  • UCSD Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion events
  •  Diversity Committee Meetings: Last Monday of every month
  •  BIPOC forum: monthly meetings
    -Mission statement: This forum is an informal safe space for those who identify as members of the BIPOC community to discuss shared experiences and serve as a support resource both personally and professionally.
  • Health Equity and Justice in Psychiatry Journal Club: bi-monthly meetings
    -Mission statement: This is a structured and supportive scholarly environment wherein faculty and trainees explore topics pertaining to health equity and structural competency as they impact the practice of psychiatry. Core values include commitment to cultural humility, anti-racism, and growth mindset. We reference primary literature, case vignettes, relevant news articles, and opinion pieces to dive deeply into the topics that inform our patients’ health outcomes every day. 
  • Diversity Rounds: Thursday mornings, usually about 1 every 2 months
  • Advocacy workshops: bi-annually 

Community Engagement


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