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Get to know our new Program Director...

Sarah Carreira



1) Tell us about yourself and why you chose to do combined training?

Let me think how to summarize in one paragraph a journey of beautiful and deliberate detours. Well, to start with I grew up in my grandfathers veterinary hospital. I fell in love with both the animals and the human interactions around their childrens health. I also loved children! At 9yo I told my parents that I was going to be a pediatrician. Fast forward. When it came time for college, I already knew that I didnt have enough information about my options to make a career decision. What if I went into medicine because it was all that I knew? Therefore, my goals for college became exploring professions and learning Spanish fluently. After a year of studying abroad in Mexico, a rural pediatric social work internship, a teaching internship in Bostons Chinatown, a medical director job at a summer camp for homeless children, a year teaching middle school in a one-room schoolhouse in Idaho, 6 months of teaching first grade in Honduras, medical assistant work, and a year of my own journey into personal psychotherapy, I was fluent in Spanish and headed back to medical school with a firm understanding of myself. I wanted to be a primary care physician. I wanted to build relationships with people and families to treat not only their ailments, but their hearts and souls. Until I had my psychiatry block in second year of medical school, I thought primary care was the only way I could do it all. But without the psychiatry piece, primary care didnt seem complete. The combination was what I had been looking for to pull together my passions and beliefs about whole health. So, when my advisor told me about combined training, I already knew this was my path. The decision felt like coming home within myself.


2) What are some reasons you chose to work at SVDP?

I have always known that I would work with an underserved population. Although my childhood was far from perfect, I was given a house, food, a good education, and the ability to travel. I struggled for a long time with guilt around the inequality that I saw in the world around me. At some point, I realized that I had a choice- remain stuck in guilt or learn to use the privileges I was provided in order to give back to the world and serve others. I chose St. Vincent de Paul Village because when I walked in for the first time, I felt again like I had come home. I walked into a family in which everyone shares the same heart and the same goals. It is the most well-run, well-organized clinic I have ever worked in, underserved or not! The administration and staff support me and allow me to use whatever skillset I need in order to best serve every patient that walks through the door. And if that wasnt enough, I have had the privilege and honor of working with the residents. I have always known that I would teach and mentor, but I never expected to be asked by the residents themselves to enter into their lives in such a powerful way. I tell the clinic director on a weekly basis that I have my dream job, and its true. What a gift.


3) What is your vision for UCSD combined program as program director?

I consider myself a realistic idealist. The program already has all the elements that it needs for long-term success: strong residents, incredible educational programs, longevity, and administrative advocates. My goal is to maintain all of the positives while simultaneously using a fresh pair of eyes to look into areas that need fine-tuning. Combined programs live between and survive off of at least two worlds and in San Diego three! Success for me will be to see those relationships even stronger with time so that we can continue training incredible, heartfelt, grounded, passionate, thriving combined physicians, as I truly believe thats what the world needs more of.


4) What activities/hobbies do you like to do with your family here in San Diego?

Between my two little girls- now 1 and almost 4-, my veterinary husband, and my own love for

animals, our favorite past-times are the zoo, La Jolla Cove with its Sea lions, Seaworld, and of

course the beach! We also love long walks, riding bikes, and sitting out at the edge of our canyon to

watch the sun set and hawks soar. We love feeling connected to nature; its our sanctuary.


5) What is your favorite food?

I honestly dont have a favorite food! However, if you were to ask me about favorite colors, I would

tell you that I love Autumn hues warm, earthy, deep rusts, reds, yellows, browns, and greens.

With them around me I feel grounded. I recently even convinced my husband to paint the entire house we bought in San Diego in thirteen different Fall colors to remind me of my Massachusetts seasonal roots poor painter.