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March 2016 Member of the Month

Raul Ayala, MD

Raul Ayala, MD, was influenced to study family medicine by his own family physician in South Texas. “I was amazed by how he could see both my grandmother and me in clinic, treat patients in the hospital and deliver babies,” Dr. Ayala says. “You can do anything and everything with family medicine!”

After completing his undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry at the University of Texas in San Antonio, Dr. Ayala attended medical school at the Universidad de Montemorelos in Mexico. He completed his education through the Fifth Pathway Program at New York Medical College before moving to Fresno to join the UCSF Fresno Family Medicine Residency.

Since joining CAFP as a resident, Dr. Ayala has represented CAFP as co-chair of the Resident and Student Council, as a member of the CAFP Board of Directors, and as the current president of the Central Valley chapter.

Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it?

My favorite aspect of family medicine is treating the patient as a whole. I also love the relationships, the trust, and experiences you share with your patients

What is the most interesting/memorable experience you have had when dealing with a patient?

I cannot really tie it down to one experience. I love meeting with my patients, and it is so rewarding when they are getting ready to leave and they say, “I am happy that you are my family doctor!”

What one word or phrase characterizes your style of family medicine?


It is important for me to be a member of CAFP and AAFP because:

CAFP is a symbol of the importance of who we are as a whole. Through CAFP, we share our best practices, support one another and get to experience and build innovation in healthcare.

What has been your best experience as a CAFP member? Why?

I love every CAFP reunion! Whether it’s a local chapter meeting, the All Member Advocacy Meeting, the Family Medicine Clinical Forum, or simply chatting on social media, it’s always with a smile and a hug (one of our members, Dr. Reid Blackwelder, coined the “bro hug”)!

CAFP is more than an organization; it is a group of highly intelligent, energized, talented and close-knit individuals striving for a better world in healthcare and life in general.

The most important resource I find CAFP offers me is:

A sense of family.

How do you make a difference in family medicine and in your community?

I continue to support our local charities through medical efforts such as volunteering at our local free clinic, working with the homeless and through health programs with my local church.


Tell us about a project in which you are involved and why it is important to you:

I am currently working on a pilot program to implement a Chronic Care Management team in our the Adventist Health Central Valley Rural Health System with patients primarily on Medi-Cal.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) defines chronic care management as multiple chronic conditions expected to last at least 12 months, or until the death of the patient."

Currently the CCM Medicare CPT code cannot be used for Medi-Cal patients. Our medical staff doesn’t have enough resources to meet the demands of these high complexity patients.

Physicians face multiple administrative steps in treating these complex patients and coordinating their care. Chronic conditions place the patient at significant risk of death, acute exacerbation/decompensation or functional decline. This program was created by a need to organize and meet the demands of our most vulnerable and highest complexity of care patients, as well as to streamline hospital and emergency room discharges and assist patients who are uninsured or underinsured/h4>.


What are good qualities a family physician should have?

To be an excellent family physician, you must be a good listener and hold yourself accountable to your patients.


Do you remember your personal statement for medical school? If so, would you like to share an excerpt?

My closing statement:

All the experiences that one must go through in life serve a purpose for the future. Every single lesson that we learn we will use again, and it is our duty to teach that lesson to the next generation. I am looking for a residency program that will teach me the fundamentals and knowledge to stand on my own and help others in need. My vision is to go through residency and find a community in need where I can build a team to implement these important fundamentals of medicine. My path in life and my profession is much like Solomon’s Proverb where it states that a man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps..


How do you spend your free time?

With my lovely wife Kelly and happy new baby, Grace – she is now learning to use her walker with speed! And, I really try to exercise as much as I can.


If you weren’t a doctor what would you be doing with your career?

I would want to be a chef!


What would your best friend say about you?

“You are always there when you are needed!”

Tell us something fun/unusual about yourself:

I really enjoy learning about other cultures and their foods.

Tell us briefly about your family:

My wife Kelly and I met three years ago at UCSF Fresno while training (she is an OB/GYN). I was on my OB rotation when we met, and we never left one another’s sight.

We got married in Huntington Beach and had the best gift of our lives, baby Grace. We decided to stay in Fresno. My middle sister lives in Los Angeles. My mom, youngest sister and the rest of my family live in Mission, Texas.

I will work all my life to be the best husband, father, son, brother and friend that I can be.

Each month, CAFP highlights one outstanding California family physician member who lends their voice, time, talent and resources to strengthen the specialty of family medicine and his or her community. If you would like to share your story or know a family physician colleague who deserves to be recognized for his or her impact or leadership, contact CAFP at 415-345-8667 or