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UC San Diego Doctor Named State Medical Board “2008 Physician-Humanitarian”


November 06, 2008  |  

Margaret McCahill, M.D., Honored for Serving the Underserved

Margaret E. McCahill, M.D., clinical professor of Family Medicine and Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and Medical Director at St. Vincent de Paul Village, has been chosen to receive the 2008 Physician Humanitarian Award from the Medical Board of California.

Since becoming a family physician in 1983, McCahill has focused her career exclusively on serving medically indigent patients and taking care of underserved populations. In the mid 1990s, she became the Founding Director of the UC San Diego Combined Family Medicine and Psychiatry Residency Program, now considered one of the top programs of its kind in the nation. Based at St. Vincent De Paul Village in downtown San Diego, California, McCahill and her family physician-psychiatrist colleagues have taught hundreds of medical residents the science, and art, of caring for homeless people with mental and physical health problems.


McCahill at Physician's window

Dr. Margaret McCahill greets patients at the medical clinic at St. Vincent de Paul Villages


“It has always been my passion to work with the populations in poverty,” explained McCahill. “Families can do extremely well given the right resources- and the most important thing is you have to have your health. Without your health you can’t get an education, a job or take advantage of the other opportunities that come along.”


McCahill & Roges

Dr. McCahill gets an update from colleague, Octaviano Roges, M.D.


The official award presentation will take place at the Medical Board’s meeting, 9 a.m., Friday, November 7, 2008, at the Sheraton Suites, 701 A Street, San Diego, California.

“This award honors Dr. McCahill’s many years of outstanding service to indigent patients in San Diego County,” said Barbara Johnson, Executive Director, Medical Board of California. “The committee was particularly impressed with Dr. McCahill’s sending graduates of a residency training program to medically underserved areas. Dr. McCahill’s multidisciplinary approach, and ability to influence other health care providers to continue to care for the underserved, is a model worthy of emulation across the state.”

“This award could not have gone to a more deserving person,” said David Brenner, Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine at UC San Diego. “Dr. McCahill is one of our healthcare heroes who serves her students, her community and her patients consistently, with unending dedication and passion.”

As Founding Director of the Combined Family Medicine-Psychiatry Residency Program at UC San Diego, McCahill was active from the planning phase in 1995 to the welcoming of the first residents in 1997; she served as Program Director until 2007 and continues as an active faculty member in the residency. The program is committed to training compassionate physicians to become competent and confident in the full spectrum of practice in family medicine and psychiatry, while assisting underserved patients and communities.



McCahill with meds

Dr. McCahill in the clinic's secured pharmacy area.


A graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, McCahill practiced as a Family Physician and Psychiatrist in the U.S. Public Health Service/Indian Health Service in Gallup, New Mexico, and at U.S. Naval Hospital, Camp Pendleton, before coming to UC San Diego full time. She has been recognized "teacher of the year" several times, both locally and statewide and has been ranked among the county’s Top Doctors, by the San Diego County Medical Society and San Diego Magazine.

In addition to her role as founder and former Residency Program Director, McCahill is also the Medical Director of St. Vincent de Paul Village. Here she works with a multi-disciplinary team of case managers, social workers, substance abuse counselors, clinical psychologists, educators, residential specialists, and administrators to provide a comprehensive continuum of services to the homeless community. This includes her role as Medical Director for the "free clinic" at the Village, the out-patient medical home of the Combined Residency Program. A new role that will enable McCahill to work with resident physicians in innovative training settings was developed in 2003 and McCahill now serves as the President of the San Diego Health & Faith Alliance.

“This award is really a celebration of the wonderful and very powerful collaboration among many, many individuals and agencies in San Diego,” said McCahill. “I also want to extend, to my colleagues and friends, my gratitude for their incredible commitment to the wonderful community we live in and for the programs we work on together.”

“This honor is well deserved,” said Richard Liekweg, Chief Executive Officer, UC San Diego Medical Center. “We are quite proud of all Dr. McCahill has accomplished and the many, many lives she has impacted in such a positive way.”

UC San Diego

Founded in 1960, the University of California, San Diego is ranked the 7th best public university in the nation by U.S. News and World Report and has been named the “hottest” institution to study science by Newsweek. UC San Diego is one of the nation’s most accomplished research universities, widely acknowledged for its local impact, national influence and global reach. Renowned for its collaborative, diverse and cross-disciplinary ethos that transcends traditional boundaries in science, arts and the humanities, the university attracts stellar faculty, students and staff.

The Family Medicine Residency Training Program and the Psychiatry Residency Training Program at UCSD are mature programs with a history of more than 20 years training resident physicians. Both programs are nationally recognized for the caliber of their faculty, residents, training programs, research and clinical care. Combined residents spend approximately equal amounts of time working with the faculty in each department.

For more information on Dr. McCahill and these programs, please visit:

  • Combined Residency
  • St. Vincent’s

Medical Board of California

The Medical Board of California is a state government agency which licenses and disciplines medical doctors. The Board provides two principal types of services to consumers: public-record information about California-licensed physicians and investigation of complaints against physicians. The purpose of the Physician Recognition Program is to recognize the demonstration of excellence by individual physicians and/or groups of physicians who strive to improve access and to fill gaps in the healthcare delivery system for underserved populations in California, or who have advanced the healthcare status of the public through innovation and commitment to medical education, or who have otherwise shown an outstanding commitment to patients in need, wherever located. 

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Media Contact: Kim Edwards, 619-543-6163,

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