Breaking Down Cultural Barriers at AltaMed: The Licensed Physicians from Mexico Program

Doctor and nurses at AltaMed clinic.

When a patient faces a language barrier at the doctor’s office, it can feel not only frustrating to navigate an appointment to see the doctor, but it can potentially affect a patient’s health in the long term.

AltaMed is proud to be working with seven Spanish-speaking physicians from the Licensed Physicians from Mexico Pilot Program (LPMPP) to ensure all patients can easily and effectively communicate their health needs to their doctor without worrying about a language barrier.

It’s heartwarming to see the immediate relief patients feel when they can express themselves without a language barrier,” says Dr. Carla Gonzalez-Guzman, a program participant working at the Paramount AltaMed Clinic.

“This deep connection improves their health outcomes and builds a supportive environment in our clinic. We’re not just overcoming language barriers; we’re creating stronger, healthier bonds,” says Dr. Gonzalez-Guzman who hails from Mexico City.  

Crucial programs like the LPMPP allow up to 30 licensed family and internal medicine physicians from Mexico to practice medicine in California Community Health Centers (CHC) for up to three years. With access to culturally informed doctors, patients can feel certain they have a trusted advocate to help them in their health journey.

Licensed Physicians from Mexico Pilot Program

AltaMed launched the LPMPP in January 2023 and it will run through December 2025 to address a shortage of Spanish-speaking physicians in California. AltaMed onboarded seven highly-qualified physicians who specialize in family medicine and internal medicine to serve its patients for this three-year period.

Although Latinos make up nearly 40% of California’s population, only 8% of the state’s medical school graduates identify as Latino, according to the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF). California has neither the number of medical schools nor the number of residency positions needed to produce a physician workforce that reflects its Latino population.

LPMPP was introduced as Assembly Bill 1045 in 2001 by California Assembly member Marco Antonio Firebaugh. The State Assembly passed the bill in 2002, allowing up to 30 licensed family medicine and internal medicine physicians with a medical license from Mexico to practice at California Community Health Centers (CHCs) for three years. The program participants are issued a license by the Medical Board of California and a working visa to practice medicine in CHCs.

According to the legislation, all physicians must be licensed and in good standing in their medical specialty in Mexico. Additional requirements include the completion of a board-approved six-month orientation distance learning program and the completion of English as Second Language classes focused on both verbal and written subject matter. Once the three-year commitment has been completed, physicians are required to return to Mexico.


AltaMed Health Services, one of the nation’s largest federally qualified community health centers, serving more than 500,000 patients across more than 60 sites in Los Angeles and Orange counties, regardless of the ability to pay.


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