Conchita Marie Paz, M.D., completed her training as a physician while raising two young children as a single parent. She experienced cultural and gender discrimination as a Hispanic woman pursuing a career in medicine, but could count on the support of her family to help her succeed. Now running a private practice in New Mexico and teaching at the university, Dr. Paz is a leader and role model. From 1992 to 1994 she served as president of the New Mexico Hispanic Medical Association.
Dr. Paz is a fourth-generation Hispanic-American who recognizes her own capacity to contribute and refuses to be limited by traditional gender and cultural expectations. She began her career in medicine as a physical therapist but dreamed of attending medical school despite her husband's objections. She realized that doctors did not always allow patients the dignity of participating fully in decisions about their own medical care and, as a physician, felt that she could improve on that. She decided to attend the University of New Mexico School of Medicine but was soon caught in a tug of war between convention (and her Hispanic husband's expectation of a traditional role for his wife) and a yearning to achieve. Her oldest brother, in medical school himself, encouraged and supported her in her career choice and her parents encouraged her to pursue her education to the fullest. She divorced in order to continue medical school, graduating in 1984.
After completing her internship at Mercy Medical Center in Denver, Colorado, from 1984 to 1985, and her residency at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska, from 1987 to 1989, Dr. Paz took a break from advancing her career to spend time with her two small children and work as a general practitioner in northern rural New Mexico. For two years, she was both a single mom and a one-woman clinicshe was director of the Mora Valley Community Clinic and ran the ambulance service as well. Resuming her training, she completed her residency in family practice in Nebraska and returned to Las Cruces, New Mexico. Since 1989, she has taught in a community-based preceptor program at University of New Mexico School of Medicine, where she was named Teacher of the Year in 2002. She is also in private practice.
Dr. Paz is a past president of the New Mexico Hispanic Medical Association, is a member of the National Hispanic Medical Association, and served on the White House Commission for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine Policy committee in 2002.