As a third-year medical student, Kameron L. Matthews ’07 grew frustrated with what she found to be “the repetition of patients with medical or social issues that could not be solved within the examination room alone.”
The daughter of a family physician, she decided that she wanted to make a larger impact within health care.
She has more than fulfilled that ambition. As the Veterans Administration’s chief medical officer, with the title of Assistant Under Secretary for Health for Clinical Services, she currently is overseeing $10 billion in contracts that the VA has with health care providers across the country, serving tens of thousands of veterans unable to get to VA facilities for care. Overall, the VA operates the largest health care system in the world.
Matthews says that it was another family physician who advised her that she ought to go to law school if she wanted to be more than a skillful clinician and also “improve health care on a broad level for a wide community, including our most vulnerable population.”
Wishing to do just that, she put down her medical texts, hit the law books and graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 2006. Matthews then returned to Johns Hopkins to finish her final year of medical school. Completing her residency back at the University of Chicago, Matthews embarked on a career of increasingly responsible positions — serving as a staff physician at the Cook County jail and the juvenile detention center, running large family health clinics, and helping to lead the University of Illinois’ managed care department in Chicago.
While in law school, Matthews also co-founded a project, the Tour for Diversity in Medicine (T4D), recruiting African American and Latino physicians, dentists and podiatrists to visit college campuses and mentor minority students — more than 3,500 students to date — to encourage them to pursue health care careers.In 2016, she joined the Veterans Administration and led an unprecedented transformation of its Office of Community Care. Last year, Matthews was promoted to her current job. She also was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in recognition of her work on the VA’s community care network.