Mariah Blegen, MD

(VA Scholar)

MD  University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, NY
Residency – Surgery, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA

Biography: Dr. Mariah Blegen, a general surgery resident at UCLA, is broadly interested in improving the delivery of equitable surgical care among marginalized populations. Her research is focused on language justice for surgical patients, understanding facilitators and barriers to ambulatory care for patients with Medicaid, and applying user-centered design approaches to improve update of lung cancer screening.   

Prior to NCSP, Dr. Blegen earned a B.A. in Biology from Macalester College followed by two years as a postbaccalaureate fellow studying the neurobiology of addiction at the NIH.  In 2019, she received her medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine, where she was inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society and Alpha Omega Alpha honor medical society. While in medical school, Dr. Blegen co-founded the Rochester Medical Accessibility Coalition affinity group to improve experiences of patients and providers with disabilities and surveyed patients on their post-operative opioid use after vascular surgery to ultimately reduce over-prescription. She was then accepted to the General Surgery Residency Program at UCLA where she completed two clinical years prior to joining NCSP.  

As a VA-funded scholar, Dr. Blegen is pursuing a range of research opportunities. She is investigating the association of limited English proficiency on healthcare utilization after surgery for patients with Medicaid with Dr Marcia Russell (UCLA), as well as describing barriers to interpreter use from a surgical trainee perspective with Dr Jesus Torres and Dr Breena Taira (UCLA) at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center.  Dr. Blegen is also conducting a qualitative, health system-partnered project to understand and reduce barriers to ambulatory care among patients with Medicaid with co-fellow Dr. Jessica Faiz (Emergency Medicine) and mentored by Dr. Katherine Kahn (UCLA) and Dr. Medell Briggs-Malonson (UCLA Health).  She also collaborates with Dr. Shonda Revels (UCLA) on her project exploring knowledge and beliefs surrounding lung cancer screening among minoritized patients through qualitative interviews and user-centered design approaches.  Finally, she contributes to the VA Evidence Synthesis Program under Dr. Paul Shekelle (VA) and Dr. Melinda Gibbons (UCLA) on surgical systematic reviews.  

During her fellowship, she completed a Master of Science in Health Policy and Management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Her volunteer work includes teaching didactics to medical students on the surgery clerkship and high school students at the CASIT’s Summer Scholars Program and she fulfills her clinical requirements at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. 

Following NCSP, Dr. Blegen will complete her clinical training in general surgery before pursuing a career in academic surgery.