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Desiree McCombs

Ochsner Academics congratulates Desiree McCombs as the 2021 recipient of the Perla S. Gil, MD Scholarship. The scholarship was established to enhance diversity at Ochsner and in the medical profession. The award supports female Ochsner Clinical School students of Hispanic descent, a group who have traditionally been under-represented in the medical profession.

Desiree is a third-year medical student originally from San Jose, Costa Rica, who immigrated with her mother to Louisiana in the late 1980s. During high school, she spent time at Charity Hospital in New Orleans where her mother battled stage IV malignant melanoma. After college, Desiree spent 6 years in the U.S. Air Force, completed a master’s degree in Aeronautical Science, and gave birth to two children. While raising her children, she completed her medical prerequisites and began her UQ-Ochsner Clinical School journey. Desiree is interested in pursuing a career in Emergency or Internal Medicine while focusing on global health issues and how to better serve the disadvantaged in our communities.

“I’m so impressed by the grit and determination seen in the pathway Desiree McCombs has taken to medical school,” said G. Dodd Denton, MD, Deputy Head of School, Students, UQ Ochsner Clinical School. “We are proud to award her this scholarship and confident she’ll do great things in the future,” he added.

About the Perla S. Gil, MD Scholarship

Perla S. Gil

Dr. Gil was born in Santiago, Cuba and grew up in Spain and Peru. As a teenager, she traveled with her father, an ophthalmologist, to remote villages who provided free eye exams and other care to children. She ultimately studied medicine herself in Lima, specializing in anesthesiology. But when she applied for a residency, she found the doors shut. In the early 1950s, most programs were not interested in admitting a young Hispanic woman.

Through the efforts of Dr. Dean H. Echols, who oversaw graduate medical education at Ochsner, Dr. Gil was awarded a fellowship in 1952 to train at the Ochsner Clinic. She then went to Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco, CA before practicing anesthesiology for over 20 years at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, CA.

The Perla S. Gil, MD Scholarship is supported by a generous endowment established by her husband in her honor. It is intended to award stipends to medical students who have long been underrepresented in medicine.