Devesh Vashishtha, a 2017 Pisacano Scholar, is a family physician at City Heights Family Health Center in San Diego. He is also a member of the Medi-Cal Contract Drug Advisory Committee, which helps determine medicines covered for the 13 million Californians insured under Medi-Cal.
Devesh was born in New York City to his parents Anshu and Malini Vashishtha, who are immigrants and scientists from India. Devesh grew up with his two younger brothers in Irvine, Orange County, where he attended University High School and was part of student leadership, model united nations, and the varsity volleyball team. He completed at Bachelors’ in political science at UC San Diego, where he stayed for his medical training and a Masters’ in clinical research.
In medical school, Devesh worked extensively on health policy at the state level. He served a one-year term on the California Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP) board of directors, and was part of a successful CAFP effort to secure $100 million in funding for primary care residency programs to train doctors in rural and under-served areas of California. He also worked as an intern in the office of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, writing a policy brief on AB 1522, which provided paid sick leave to millions of workers statewide. Devesh’s policy experiences were reinforced through his clinical training at the UCSD student-run free clinic, where he served undocumented human beings as the pulmonary clinic manager.
During a gap year in medical school, Devesh completed a Masters’ thesis on public health strategies to prevent transitions to injection drug use. He also led research papers on renal artery calcium and kidney function, the health effects of pesticides in children and the effect of heat waves on the frequency of outpatient clinic visits.
In residency at Swedish Cherry Hill in Seattle, WA, Devesh developed a passion for mentoring medical students and residents. He served as the Cherry Hill clinic Chief Resident, where he advocated for systems-changes that empower residents and address burnout. He was involved in anti-racism training through his residency program. He continued his policy work as the resident member on the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Commission on Quality and Practice from 2018-2019.
Devesh’s other passion is environmental justice, and he was one of the founding members of the 2015 Hindu Declaration on Climate Change. As the UC San Diego chapter leader for Student Physicians for Social Responsibility (sPSR), Devesh advocated in Washington, D.C. for the Clean Power Plan. He also helped start a lecture series on Climate Change and Health at the Institute for Public Health at UC San Diego. His work in environmentalism and policy was recognized with a 2017-2018 Switzer Environmental Fellowship Award.
Devesh is an avid student of Vedanta, a Hindu philosophical tradition that presents a means for removing one’s sense of inadequacy. Devesh is also a Carnatic Classical vocal musician and has performed across the US, and in Canada and India.