Featured Story, Spotlight Profile

Jennifer Wilson, MD

Spotlight Profile - Jennifer Wilson, MD

Jennifer Wilson, MD, didn’t originally plan on being a physician. As an undergrad at UC Davis studying Molecular Biology, she started volunteering at the Davis community health clinic where she found she really enjoyed talking to people and building relationships. After graduating, she realized she wanted to continue to build those relationships by becoming a family physician. She completed post-baccalaureate courses, took the MCATS, and applied to medical school, ultimately attending UC Davis.

Dr. Wilson has been on staff at OLE Health since 2006 and has a patient population as devoted to her as she is to them. We spoke with her about what brought her to OLE Health, what keeps her practicing medicine, and how she helps ensure OLE Health delivers the highest quality care.

What drew you to OLE Health?

I was finishing my residency at San Jose Medical Center when a co-resident shared with me a recruitment flyer for Community Health Clinic Ole and said, “Jen, these are your people”. It sounded like a great fit, as I wanted to practice at a community health clinic, and this one was near Sonoma County, where I had family. I came and met Dr. Moore [Medical Director for OLE Health at the time], and realized this was my dream job. However, two things happened that same week that I was afraid would derail the opportunity, I found out I was pregnant and learned I was accepted into the program to get my Masters in Public Health. I would not be able to start my dream job for a year. Fortunately, it worked out. In 2006 as soon as I finished my Master’s program, I came to OLE Health.

Many have left the medical field during the pandemic, what keeps you motivated to remain in the medical field?

It’s the same thing that drew me to the profession: the people. I have an affinity for people, and my relationships with my patients are deep. I have cared for some of these individuals since I began at OLE Health 17 years ago. It is an intimate thing to be invited to that vulnerable space in a person’s life. I wouldn’t consider leaving with people experiencing such profound suffering. 

I also have unintentionally fallen into caring for much of our un-housed community. My team is
responsible for the twice weekly clinic we offer to individuals receiving services at the South Napa Shelter. While there, we represent OLE Health and have created a safe, judgement-free space, and fostered trust with a group of individuals that don’t typically engage or trust ‘the system’. It is a distinct privilege to be trusted to offer advice or recommendations. With our clinical presence and guidance, we were able to avert major outbreaks in that congregate setting.

You are also the Director of Clinical Quality for OLE Health, how did that come to be? 
When I started at OLE I wanted to find a way to use my Masters of Public Health. One gap I identified was in screening for colon cancer among the uninsured. I partnered with other physicians and our local hospital to get our uninsured patients screened appropriately. The first year we screened 18 patients, and one did have colon cancer, and that screening likely saved their life. Then, as Dr. Moore was moving to another role, there was an opportunity to take on the responsibility of clinical quality.

I am proud of the culture of quality and focus on patient safety and experience that we have at OLE Health. Dr. Moore taught me, ‘do the right thing right, the first time, every time, and I will use my role and influence to further that culture.