Faculty Spotlight: Lisa McClellan, MD

Teresa Joseph
Teresa Joseph
UA Phoenix Physician Finds Passion in Global Health

Lisa McClellan, MD, always had a passion for international health and serving the most underserved populations of the world.

Since she completed medical school, she has traveled the globe through organizations like Doctors without Borders to treat patients in Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Honduras, China, Haiti, Malawi and the Dominican Republic.

Lisa McClellan, MD“These trips remind me how most of the world lives,” Dr. McClellan said. “I became interested in medicine because I wanted to help others. Through these international trips, I’m able to treat patients from all corners of the world during their most vulnerable times.”

A clinical associate professor in Family, Community and Preventive Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix and associate medical director of Adelante Healthcare, Dr. McClellan has taught at the college since 2004. For the last three years, she has trained UA College of Medicine – Phoenix students in the Dominican Republic.

Through the college’s Global Health Program, students experience the primitive clinical and public health care settings of a developing nation. They apply their medical knowledge to health care situations and learn about tropical medicine, nutrition and public health. During past seven-day trips to the Dominican Republic, students have treated about 500 patients in rural communities.

The trip is offered twice per year with the goal of establishing a primary care clinic in several villages and creating relationships with the local health care system and doctors.

“It is a great chance to combine my experience of working with patients in remote, underserved areas and my ability to teach students,” Dr. McClellan said. “It’s an opportunity to teach students in a setting that is comfortable for me, but not always for them. It’s a unique experience as a physician and educator, and I’m thankful for the chance to be a part of it.”

Medical students and faculty who travel to the Dominican Republic must pay for their own travel, as well as for the medications and equipment they bring. The cost is roughly $1,500 each.

Dr. McClellan with Students in the DR
Dr. McClellan with Students in the DR
In May, 17 medical students and four faculty members will travel to the Dominican Republic, where they will treat patients at the Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos orphanage and travel to four farming villages.

“I hope these trips to the Dominican Republic get students comfortable with difficult situations,” Dr. McClellan said. “There are so many challenges students will face during these trips. There are language barriers, the work environment is small with limited resources, the temperature is warm with a lot of humidity and there is so much emotion behind seeing these patients struggle with their health.”

Dr. McClellan said that in addition to treating patients at the clinic, students will conduct home visits. The patients they visit in homes aren’t able to physically visit the clinic and tend to have complex medical situations. She said these situations have an emotional impact on students, but can be the most rewarding.

“It’s hard for these experiences not to impact how you look at the world,” Dr. McClellan said. “It makes me thankful and appreciative for the health care we can deliver.”

Dr. McClellan graduated from the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Medicine, where she received a combined bachelor of arts in biology and doctorate of medicine. She completed her residency at Phoenix Baptist Family Practice Residency Program and a Faculty Development Fellowship at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix.

If you are interested in donating and supporting medical students on future trips to the Dominican Republic, please visit the Foundation page and specify under comments that you’d like the proceeds to go to the Global Health Interest Group.

About the College

Founded in 2007, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. By cultivating collaborative research locally and globally, the college accelerates discovery in a number of critical areas — including cancer, stroke, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular disease. Championed as a student-centric campus, the college has graduated 500 physicians, all of whom received exceptional training from nine clinical partners and more than 2,000 diverse faculty members. As the anchor to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, which is projected to have an economic impact of $3.1 billion by 2025, the college prides itself on engaging with the community, fostering education, inclusion, access and advocacy.