OHSU nurse midwives celebrating National Midwifery Week 2016

National Midwifery Week is supported by ACNM, its members, physicians, and women’s health organizations across the nation.

OHSU has a thriving faculty midwifery practice. OHSU’s midwifery graduate program has been ranked as one of the top Midwifery programs from U.S. News & World Report consistently since 2004.

Some of our faculty include:

  • Sally Hersh,D.N.P.,C.N.M. who received the Excellence in Teaching Award for graduate teaching chosen by the OHSU School of Nursing students. Sally teaches core coursework in the graduate nurse-midwifery academic program, precepts masters’ degree midwifery students in the busy faculty practice, and supervises DNP students during their final year of doctoral work.

  • Michele Megregian N.M., M.S.N., who published Ethics Education in Midwifery Education Programs in the United States
  • Ellen Tilden, Ph.D. Most recently The Wall Street Journal picked up her team’s research regarding the influence of group prenatal care and timing of hospital admission. She received the 2016 Early Career Achievement Award from the OHSU School of Nursing Alumni Association. Dr. Tilden’s current work includes examining the risks and benefits of giving birth inside and outside a hospital setting and she received broad media attention following her publication in The New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Tilden’s work is supported by a National Institutes of Health-funded BIRCWH K12 award made possible through the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Office of Research on Women’s Health.
  • Retired faculty and midwife Carol Howe, an Elnora E. Thompson Distinguished Professor at OHSU, was presented with the 2016 Dorothea M. Land, Pioneer Award by the Certified Nurse Midwives Foundation, which honors exceptional certified nurse midwives who have exhibited vision and leadership. Carol is also the founding director of the OHSU Nurse-Midwifery Education Program. Carol dedicated over 35 years to educating midwifery students and practice in our clinic.

Our midwives have been caring for women across their lifespan since 1975. They educate the community on women’s health, including nutrition, sexual health, menopause and osteoporosis. OHSU midwives also offer prenatal care and provide compassionate, respectful and family-centered care. They also offer a water birth program that was established in 1997.

To learn more about becoming a Nurse-Midwife, please take a look at the OHSU School of nursing program pages.

To learn how to receive care from one of the OHSU midwives, please visit our website.

Food as medicine

By now, we’ve all heard the recommendations for a heart-healthy diet – reduce your saturated fat intake, avoid trans fats, cut back on salt. But did you know there are specific foods you can eat that can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol even further? Researchers have created a “portfolio” of cholesterol-lowering foods, that, when eaten together along with a heart-healthy diet, are even more effective at reducing LDL cholesterol than a low-saturated fat diet alone. Incorporate these four foods into your diet to maximize your heart health.

  • Soluble fiber – The two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, are beneficial for a host of health issues, but getting at least 10 grams of soluble fiber every day is useful for reducing LDL cholesterol. Fiber is found in all whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and grains; foods highest in soluble fiber include oats, barley, beans, citrus fruits, apples, okra, eggplant, and ground flax seeds. You can also take a fiber supplement made from psyllium husk (e.g., Metamucil).almonds
  • Soy – Aim for adding 25 grams a day of soy protein to help lower LDL cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Choosing more plant proteins, such as soy, in place of animal proteins helps reduce intake of saturated fat and cholesterol while increasing fiber. To get to 25 grams, aim for two servings of soy foods a day—examples of a serving include ½ cup shelled edamame, 1 cup soy milk, ½ cup tofu, 3 ounces tempeh, or a soy “burger” such as Boca Burger.
  • Almonds – This study looked specifically at eating ¼ cup of almonds every day (plain, not salted or honey-roasted), but the heart benefits of all nuts are well documented. Sprinkle them on your oatmeal, salad, or stir-fry, or simply eat a small handful as a snack.
  • Plant sterols and stanols – Plant sterols and stanols are naturally found in plant foods such as grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and are very effective at lowering LDL by blocking cholesterol from being absorbed into the bloodstream. The problem is that it’s impossible to eat enough plant foods (even for this dietitian!) to get to the recommended dose of 2 grams a day. Many foods have added plant sterols and stanols (such as Benecol and Take Control margarine or Minute Maid Heart Wise orange juice), but I prefer a capsule such as Nature Made CholestOff Plus (taken twice daily with meals). These supplements help to avoid the extra calories from fortified foods (it takes 4 tablespoons of Benecol spread to get to the recommended 2 grams of plant sterols – too much margarine, in my opinion!).

After years of hearing that we should eat less, I love being able to tell people that eating more of certain foods can improve their health. Enjoy!


Tracy Severson, R.D., L.D., is the dietitian for the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. She specializes in nutrition counseling for cardiovascular health and weight management.


Race for the Cure: Shirley’s story

For Shirley Ira, participating as a Race for the Cure team captain is both personal and professional: an experience that blends her many years coordinating care for oncology patients at OHSU Casey Eye Institute (CEI) with some personal losses.CEI Team

In 1991 the Susan G. Komen Foundation was about to launch its first Race for the Cure event in the Portland area and Ira had volunteered to be a team captain, representing CEI: at the time, she was the only clinic coordinator at CEI with oncology experience.

“You wouldn’t think an eye clinic would see patients with breast cancer.” Ira explained that sometimes breast cancer patients develop metastatic lesions in their eyes.

Over the years she has watched Portland’s Race for the Cure grow to what it is now: one of the largest in the country. Ira thinks the level of participation in the Northwest says a lot about the people here and their willingness to support a good cause that help others in their community. One of her favorite aspects of being a team captain is the opportunity it gives her to rally others to join the cause.

But the connection for Ira hasn’t been just professional. “I did lose a very good friend at one Race namestime.” In recent years several coworkers she’s been very close to at CEI have also been diagnosed with breast cancer. And most recently, one of CEI’s international fellows – a highly trained ophthalmologist who was here for two years for special training – died after returning home to Germany.

Ira shared a photo with us from last year’s race containing a list of names and a short message: “One of the reasons I participate! All the survivor names are coworkers at CEI.”

This year, she’ll walk in celebration of them, in memory of her friend and colleague, and in honor of her patients – some of whom will join her at the race on Sunday.

Shirley Ira is a clinic coordinator at OHSU Casey Eye Institute (CEI) where she coordinates care for adult and pediatric oncology patients with malignant tumors in their eyes. For over 17 years she coordinated patient enrollment and participation in an ocular oncology trial at CEI through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Support #TeamOHSU and post your pictures from the Race to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using #OHSUKnight.

Race for the Cure: a mother’s legacy

For Race for the Cure Team Captain Jill Mason, participating in the Susan G. Komen breast cancer fundraiser and outreach event in Portland each year is a family event inspired by a woman who is dearly loved and remembered.

After their mother, Cricket, died of breast cancer in the Spring of 1993, Mason and her sister rallied family members together to participate in the walk the followinRace for the Cure historicalg year. “Cricket’s Crew hasn’t missed a year since we started,” she said with a smile.

A photo from one of their first years shows Mason with her sister and daughters wearing their matching Race t-shirts, standing in front of a rock outside of Mason’s neighbor’s home.

Mason pointed to one of the young girls in the photo and chuckled: “her t-shirt was hanging down to her ankles – now it fits like a normal shirt!”

What began with just the women of the family quickly grew to what it is today: a multi-generational family reunion of sorts. Each year, brothers, sisters, cousins, and in-laws, travel, or sleep in, from across the country – some as far as Maryland, North Carolina, Iowa, and Idaho – to participate
in the walk.

Last year was their team’s biggest year yet with 29 participants. This year – the 25th anniversary of Race for the Cure in Portland – looks to be even bigger. And just like the early years, no team member is too small to participate: eight are three years of age and younger. The youngest, born just weeks ago, will be about two Race for the Cure teammonths old when he dons his pink Team OHSU t-shirt on September 18 in honor of his great-grandmother.

Before the walk begins however, the team will gather briefly for a picture in front of the same rock they’ve been photographed in front of for the past 22 years.

A faculty member in the OHSU School of Dentistry, Mason spends part of her time in clinic with students and patients. She also directs all community-based rotations – where students go work in public health and community clinics.

 Join #TeamOHSU and post your pictures from the Race to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using #OHSUKnight.

Healthy summer barbecues and potlucks

Is your summer filling up with social engagements that threaten to derail your healthy diet efforts? Backyard barbecues and potlucks are wonderful, but the typical fare – creamy mayonnaise-based salads, high-fat meats like ribs, and baked goods – isn’t exactly optimal for good health and weight management. Here are my go-to tips for staying on track all summer long.

Plan ahead6064070792_1916d759fb_z

If you bring a dish that is healthy and delicious, you know there will be at least one appropriate choice for you to fill up on at the party. I love whole-grain salads – stir together any type of cooked whole grain (e.g., brown rice, quinoa, barley, wheat berries), a mixture of raw or grilled vegetables, and a tangy vinaigrette, and you have an easy, delicious dish that’s packed with fiber and nutrients. (I love this Quinoa & Snap Pea Salad, although I usually grill the onions and mushrooms first.) These types of salads taste great at room temperature, making them a convenient option at potlucks.

Choose your protein wisely

Avoid higher-fat red meats and instead opt for fish or veggie burgers as your grilled protein. You’ll save on saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories, while gaining heart-healthy omega 3 fats (from the fish) or fiber (from the veggie burgers). Fish also cooks faster than meat, and less time on the grill means fewer carcinogens forming on your food.

Rethink dessert

We are lucky to live in Portland, where the farmers’ markets are packed with gorgeous and delicious berries, melons, and stone fruit all summer. Instead of sampling the same old baked goods for dessert, try grilling peaches or nectarines, tossing berries with lightly sweetened yogurt, or just slicing a juicy watermelon for a sweet treat that delivers vitamins, minerals, and fiber with minimal calories.

Do you have a favorite tip for serving up a healthy barbecue? Share in the comments below!



Tracy Severson, RD, LD, is the dietitian for the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. She specializes in nutrition counseling for cardiovascular health and weight management.


Plan ahead: Upcoming construction projects to affect travel to OHSU

Traveling to OHSU for an appointment or work? Several current and upcoming construction projects will affect traffic and parking starting August 14.

Here’s what you need to know as you prepare for your trip to OHSU.

ODOT ramp closure, August 14-31

I-5 Exit 299A will be closed for construction August 14-31.

The Sellwood Bridge will also be closed from 7 p.m. August 19 to 6 a.m. Tuesday, August 23.

Patients driving to OHSU from the south could experience traffic delays up to one hour.

Many cars will be rerouted down Southwest Curry and will be delayed without the I-5 exit access. Between 400-500 cars per hour or 7,500 cars per day will be rerouted, which will cause substantial congestion and longer trip times. For detours and more information, visit ODOT’s project website at www.or43ramp.com.Map-for-SW-Macadam-300x421

TriMet northbound bus lines 35-Macadam/Greeley and 36-South Shore will also be detoured because of this construction. The following northbound stops will not be served:

  • Macadam and Lowell
  • Macadam and Gaines
  • Macadam and Tram Tower
  • Arthur and 1st
  • 2200 Block SW 1st

Temporary stops will be located at Bond and Lowell, and Moody and Gibbs.

Southbound bus stops and the Portland Streetcar will not be affected by this closure.


MAX lines closed at Rose Quarter, August 21-September 3

TriMet has announced that major work on the Rose Quarter area MAX stations will disrupt MAX service August 21-September 3.

  • The Rose Quarter Transit Center, Convention Center and Northeast 7th Avenue stations will be closed.
  • Orange and Yellow lines will travel with reduced frequency.
  • The Green line will not run in downtown Portland.

TriMet encourages you to plan for an extra 30-45 minutes and to expect delays, crowded buses and full trains. Shuttles will run between the Lloyd Center and the Yellow line’s Rose Quarter station.

More information at trimet.org/alerts/rosequarter.

South Waterfront construction

OHSU is expanding in the South Waterfront to better serve the needs of Oregonians for generations to come. Two new buildings are being built near the base of the Portland Aerial Tram and adjacent to the Center for Health & Healing.

While every effort will be made to minimize disruption to patients, visitors and nearby residents, please allow extra time to get to your appointment. Expect intermittent road closures and extended sidewalk closures for the duration of the project.

The Center for Health & Healing parking garage will remain open to patients and visitors during construction.

Prescribing change: Using healthy food to break the cycle of poverty and chronic disease

As a child, Brian Frank, sat down at the beginning of every week with his father and brother to plan each of the family’s meals for the next seven days. Every morning, he knew he would wake up to a delicious breakfast, that he would have something in his lunchbox and that he would return home from school to a nutritious meal on the table.

“What I didn’t realize at the time,” he said “was the incredible sense of security that gave me.”

Now, as a physician at OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond, Dr. Frank understands all too well that food security is a luxury that many of our community members do not enjoy. In fact, an astounding 75 percent of Oregon’s Medicaid patients lack reliable access to affordable, nutritious food.

So what does this mean for our community? Lack of consistent access to nutritious foods, especially in childhood, can have devastating and long-lasting health effects. In particular, food insecurity leads to patterns of overconsumption of calorie dense, but nutrient poor, foods. This “high calorie malnutrition” can cause or worsen chronic diseases such as diabetes, leading to poor health outcomes. Once people develop chronic diseases, food insecurity prevents them from making changes that would improve their health. In turn, people suffer worse outcomes, driving up the cost of medical care as a whole and leading to financial devastation for patients and their families due to hospitalizations, illness and lost time at work. These catastrophic events send families further into poverty and worsen food insecurity. What we end up with is a cycle that continues until patients are dying at an earlier age than their counterparts who have better access to food. “Hunger is more than nutritional or physiological deficit,” Dr. Frank explains. “It’s a dangerous medical condition that requires urgent treatment.”

This year, OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond, the Oregon Food Bank, Multnomah County, Zenger Farms, and researchers at Portland State University have partnered to launch a research project with the aim of changing how we think of, and provide, food. The project, collectively called CSA Partnerships for Health (CSAP4H) provides weekly, subsidized boxes of fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables.

Building on the work of a pilot program at Multnomah County’s Mid-County Medical Center, and supported by grants from Kaiser Permanente and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, CSAP4H hopes to show that this simple intervention can change eating habits of its participants.

Over the course of the 20-week growing season, patients will also have access to free cooking classes hosted by the Oregon Food Bank, and food education by Zenger Farms.
At the end of the 20-week period, the team will conduct an in-depth evaluation, with the hope of proving the medical benefit of “prescribing” healthy foods to patients in need.

OHSU Family Medicine’s mission to address food insecurity and malnutrition extends beyond this summer’s project. Other efforts will include additions to OHSU’s curriculum across all healthcare professions, which will arm providers with the ability to better understand, treat and manage food insecurity. Final steps will also include coming up with best practices for evaluating and addressing food needs across the country, so there is a standardized, evidence-based method that can be easily used by all healthcare organizations.

Want to learn more? Visit OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond to see Dr. Frank in action, learn more about healthy eating, and enjoy delicious giveaways.

OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond

Friday, August 12

1 – 5 p.m.


Dr. Brian Frank is a Family Medicine physician at OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond, a Federally Qualified Health Center. OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond treats infants, children, adults, and seniors in the Southeast community, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.

Scientific Research Advocates bring the patient perspective to science

This Saturday, August 6, a free, public forum about the science behind evolving breast cancer screening guidelines will be held as part of the 30th International Association for Breast Cancer Research Conference. June Cooley, an OHSU Scientific Research Advocate, will be one of the panelists presenting from the patient perspective.

Research advocates are volunteers with a personal connection to cancer who are passionate about helping translate research findings into meaningful outcomes for patients and their families. The primary role of a research advocate is to represent the collective patient perspective, or the disease experiences of many patients, in the research process.

June’s journey began when she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2008 after a routine mammogram.  After interviewing local surgeons that quickly recommended a lumpectomy and radiation, she chose to be treated at OHSU where she was invited to participate in the Onko Type DX clinical trial.

After determining that she was at high risk for recurrence, it became evident that needed a mastectomy and chemotherapy. She credits OHSU care givers for saving her life.

After finishing treatment, June wanted to do more to help. “I was fascinated by the changes that were going to be possible at OHSU,” she said. “When Phil Knight made that donation and proposed the Billion Dollar Challenge, I had to be involved.”

June soon joined the first cohort of OHSU Scientific Research Advocates, a trained group of cancer survivors and caregivers who work with Knight Cancer Institute investigators to ensure that research at OHSU reflects the needs and interests of the cancer community. Advocates also support dissemination of research findings via community outreach and partnerships with community organizations.

“I’ve learned so much—the trainings have been great. I’ve attended national meetings. The advocacy program at OHSU is so well-received by the researchers and the scientists. They’re incredibly generous.”

Confronting the confusion: How to think about breast cancer screening is a free, public forum held during the International Breast Cancer conference hosted by Susan G. Komen and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. The event takes place on Saturday, August 6, 2016 from 2:00PM to 5:00PM PDT. Space is limited, please register to reserve your seat.

Click here for more information on OHSU’s Scientific Research Advocate Program.

Summer road trips: Making the most of fast food

This is a continuation of our best tips for eating well on the road. Read the first article here.

As much as I’d love to have only freshly prepared meals on road trips, being on the road (and on a budget) can at times make fast food inevitable. Use these tips to make the most of a potentially unhealthy situation.sub sandwich

Make it a true “happy” meal

Wherever you end up, always remember the formula for the My Heart-Healthy Plate: one quarter of your plate should be lean protein (chicken, turkey, fish, beans, tofu – avoid anything crispy, crunchy, or breaded); one quarter should be starch, preferably from whole grains (e.g., whole-wheat bread, corn tortilla, brown rice – avoid fried potatoes and white bread), and half should be fruits and vegetables. Create your own happy meal using this model!

  • From the sub shop: a 6-inch turkey sandwich on whole wheat (no cheese, no mayo) with extra veggies and a piece of fruit on the side
  • From the burger joint: an open-face grilled chicken sandwich or veggie burger with a side salad (only use half the packet of dressing provided)
  • From the Mexican restaurant: a chicken, black bean, and vegetable bowl (hold the sour cream, cheese, fried shell, and chips; ask for a half-portion of brown rice so you get more of the beans and veggies)
  • From the pizzeria: one slice of thin-crust veggie pizza (with extra vegetables, light cheese, and whole-wheat crust, if available) with a salad (avoid the bread sticks, extra cheese, and high-fat meats).

Stay hydrated

Water, water, water! Avoid sugar-filled sodas, milkshakes, energy drinks, sports drinks, and coffee drinks, which will just fuel more sugar cravings and make you feel sluggish.

Put on some good road-trip music, eat well, and have fun out there!



Tracy Severson, RD, LD, is the dietitian for the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. She specializes in nutrition counseling for cardiovascular health and weight management.


Eating well on the road

Planning on getting out of town this summer? Road trips are a great way to unwind, spend time with family, and see the gorgeous sights of the Pacific Northwest. Unless you’re careful, though, they’re also a great way to pack on a few extra pounds and derail your usual healthy diet choices. But it doesn’t have to be a losing battle! Before you hit the road, use the following tips to help make your next road trip a healthy one.family road trip

Plan ahead:

  • Stock the car with healthy snacks such as fresh or dried fruit, veggie sticks (carrots, bell peppers, sugar snap peas are all great choices), and whole-grain crackers. Make your own trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, and whole-grain cereal (leave out the chocolate—it would just melt and make a mess anyway!).
  • Measure out higher-calorie snacks like nuts and trail mix into small containers or baggies to help with portion control. Snack bars can be a convenient and portable choice, but make sure they aren’t candy bars in disguise! Larabars are a favorite in my family and are made with only dried fruit and nuts. I also love individual packets of peanut butter, almond butter, and hummus—convenient choices when you’re on the go! Try them on apple slices, celery, carrots, or bell peppers.
  • Bring a small cooler packed with fruit, vegetables, edamame, and hummus, and while you’re at it, pack sandwiches to have a picnic lunch at a rest stop. Use the break to take a walk and let the kids run off some energy.

Do your homework:

  • Use your smart phone to find healthier restaurant choices along the way (HealthyDiningFinder.com is helpful for selecting healthy meals at a variety of restaurants), and look up nutrient info on restaurant websites to help make the healthiest selections.
  • No smart phone? Most restaurants have nutrition data available, so ask to see it before you order. The CalorieKing Calorie, Fat, & Carbohydrate Counter is a great pocket-sized book to keep in your car that lists nutrient info for tens of thousands of foods, including 200 fast-food chains.

Stay tuned for more tips for eating well during your summer travels.



Tracy Severson, RD, LD, is the dietitian for the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. She specializes in nutrition counseling for cardiovascular health and weight management.


Why 96,000 Square Miles?

OHSU Health Fair at Pioneer Square.

President Robertson is fond of saying that OHSU has a 96,000 square mile campus, serving Oregonians “from Enterprise to Coos Bay, from Portland to Klamath Falls.”

This blog aims to highlight that breadth. 96,000 Square Miles (96K for short) will focus on the people of OHSU, the Oregonians we serve and the ripple effect of our work in Oregon and beyond.

Read more

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