OHSU celebrates National Doctors Day

In celebration of March 30th as National Doctors Day, we sat down with OHSU’s Dr. Nate Selden to ask what inspired him to become a physician – and what continues to inspire him in his day-to-day life as the Chair of Pediatric Neurosurgery at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and Director of OHSU’s Neurological Surgery Residency Program.

Below, find an excerpt of Dr. Selden’s post, originally published on our Doernbecher “Healthy Families” blog.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job comes in two parts. One is to see a patient back in my clinic after a challenging operation with a great outcomeWhen I can reassure parents that the prognosis is good, I see the strain and worry lift from their shoulders. And I see that the children, especially the younger ones, are simply their resilient selves, blissfully unaware of how serious their condition was. The second part is to share that experience with the resident trainees who care for children with me. Their wonder and deep satisfaction as they experience these successes for the first time are palpable. Occasionally, we inspire one of them to pursue pediatric neurosurgery, and that is a terrific endorsement of the work we do at Doernbecher.

What advice would you give aspiring physicians? 

Spend time with practicing physicians and surgeons to see what their day-to-day life is really like. Make sure you enjoy the rhythms of a normal medical routine and not just the idea of being a doctor. Medicine is a labor of love that requires diligence and resilience. If you have a passion for the work, it is its own reward.

If you would like to leave a message of thanks for an OHSU doctor, visit our Facebook page or consider giving back in your doctor’s name here.


Jessica Columbo is OHSU’s Social Media Manager. She can be reached at socialmedia@ohsu.edu. You can also join the conversation on Facebook or follow OHSU on Twitter and Instagram.

Join us for Nicholas Kristof’s “Pathways to Becoming a Global Citizen”

We are very pleased that New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, is the speaker for the Fifth Annual Kathryn Robertson Memorial Lecture. The title of Mr. Kristof’s talk is Pathways to Becoming a Global Citizen.

Mr. Kristof has received the Pulitzer Prize twice, once for his coverage of Tiananmen Square and again for his coverage of Darfur genocide.

The lecture is free and open to the public and will be follow by a reception and book signing.

Mr. Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn are co-authors of “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” and “The Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity.”

Please join us in the OHSU Auditorium on our Marquam Hill Campus Monday, April 20th at Noon. For more details, click here.


Dr. Andy Harris is the Interim Director of OHSU’s Global Health Center. Dr. Harris won a 2011 Purpose Prize Fellow Award in recognition of  “extraordinary achievement and continued compelling work” in founding and directing Professionals’ Training in Global Health (PTGH).

March Round-up: Brain Awareness Season and Doernbecher’s “Brave Bots”

Each month, OHSU faculty, staff and students publish exciting new research, academic advice and health stories across the blogosphere. In case you missed them, here is a round-up of some of our top blog posts of the month:

How hard could it be? OHSU School of Medicine student and mom to a toddler, Megan Thruston, shares her study habit secrets and parenting adventures – with a good dose of humor.

Wearing a properly fitted helmet every time you ride your bike reduces the chance of a traumatic brain injury by 88%! Marianne Bridwell-Chapman of the OHSU Doernbecher Tom Sargent Children’s Safety Center explains how to find the right fit – and why setting an example for your child is so critical.

Brain Awareness Season is upon us! The OHSU Brain Institute’s Bobby Heagerty provides a guide to upcoming lectures and events.

Doernbecher’s new “Brave Bot” mural is helping kids (and grown-ups!) be brave when facing serious medical challenges. Learn how the Brave Bots got started and why Nurse Manager Laura Nibert feels so strongly about empowering patients via the art installation

On March 9, Christof Koch, Ph.D. of The Allen Institute for Brain Science spoke at the Newmark Theatre as part of our 2015 Brain Awareness Lecture Series. Read a brief summary of his enlightening presentation.

Studies indicate that the Spring time change can be associated with disrupted sleep and even a suggestion of increased heart attacks soon after. Dr. Gopal Allada shares his tips to make the transition a bit easier.



Jessica Columbo is OHSU’s Social Media Manager. She can be reached at socialmedia@ohsu.edu. You can also join the conversation on Facebook or follow OHSU on Twitter and Instagram.

Bite into a healthy lifestyle

Happy National Nutrition Month! Every March we get an entire month to think about and celebrate the food we eat and the choices we make to get and stay healthy.

This year’s theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” which encourages everyone to make healthy and informed food and physical activity choices every day in order to live the healthiest life possible.

We all know by now the importance of following a healthy lifestyle, but the real issue is how to realistically achieve this day after day. One of the most basic changes is to start preparing meals at home.

Even if you aren’t a gourmet cook, home-cooked foods will almost always be healthier (read: lower in fat, sugar, and calories and higher in fiber and nutrients) than those served away from home at restaurants.

The New York Times recently ran a story that examined what 2000 calories looks like at various restaurants versus at home, and the visual images of how to obtain a day’s worth of calories is striking. The amount of food you get from the home-cooked meals truly looks like it would carry you through a full day compared to the same amount of calories at any restaurant, which often provide a full day’s worth of calories at only one meal.

The takeaway message is that cooking at home will certainly help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, with the added benefits of being more filling, more delicious, more nutritious, and more affordable.

This Nutrition Month, I encourage you to cook at home more often as part of a healthy lifestyle. If you’re a regular cook, explore some new Mediterranean diet recipes or commit to cooking every day this month.

If you’re a novice, set aside one day a week that you can learn some basics (check out these cool infographics on food and cooking for inspiration) or sign up for a cooking class; stay tuned for heart-healthy cooking demonstrations to be offered at OHSU’s Center for Health & Healing.

You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment after creating your own healthy meals, and it will be healthier, and hopefully tastier, than take-out!


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.

Your health questions answered: What can I do about high cholesterol?

You ask. OHSU health experts answer. This month, one of our cardiovascular experts is on the hot seat.

Q. I eat healthy, exercise and am not overweight – but I have high cholesterol. What can I do?

A. Average low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol is below 125; when it is above 160, you may have been born with high cholesterol. Talk to your primary care provider. You may have a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). People with FH cannot remove low-density LDL cholesterol from their blood, and thus have high levels. The most important thing you should do if you have FH is to scrupulously follow a healthy lifestyle:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat right.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Keep your weight within a normal range.

If your cholesterol remains high, you may eventually need a statin, a medication that’s very effective in lowering cholesterol. There are also options if you cannot tolerate statins.

For more information, contact the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute’s Heart Disease Prevention Program.


Dr. Sergio Fazio is Director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology, where he works to prevent and reverse heart disease through personalized care and research innovation. U.S. News & World Report rank the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute as the top cardiology and heart surgery hospital in Oregon.

Tackling childhood obesity in rural Oregon

To counter the alarming growth in childhood obesity across the country, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently announced $500 million additional dollars to its longstanding campaign to achieve a healthy weight for all children.

These new funds bring the total to an unprecedented $1 billion since 2007 to build a culture of health across communities in the U.S. and ensure that all children have access to healthier foods and opportunities to be physically active.

But because children in rural America suffer from obesity at rates that far exceed their urban peers, solutions that fit rural communities are especially needed because rural communities and families face unique challenges, such as limited health promotion resources.

In rural Union County, Oregon, healthcare professionals, educators, parents, grandparents, youth, and other community members have teamed up with OHSU’s School of Nursing to tackle the problem of obesity in kids and adolescents.

The partnership is part of a study named Students Now Advocating to Create (Healthy Snacking) Zones — SNACZ, a program that prepares youth to become advocates promoting healthy snacking among their peers and in their schools and communities. Funding support for the SNACZ project is being provided by an Agricultural & Food Research Initiative Grant from the USDA National Institute of Food & Agriculture.

An example of the power of this partnership is the success of a recent community educational event, Fuel Your Body to Win. Designed to counteract media messages often associated with sports that encourage high-sugar/high-fat snacks and beverages, this event brought together top athletic trainers from Oregon State University, Eastern Oregon University coaches, and OHSU scientists for a workshop on the importance of healthy eating for optimal sports performance.

During this two-day event, students from middle schools across Union County attended keynote presentations by well-known athletic stars, participated in “myth-buster stations” and break-out sessions with keynote speakers, assessed their nutrition knowledge and habits through interactive exhibits, and signed a Fuel Your Body to Win banner to commit to healthier food choices.

Childhood obesity is a critical and complex public health problem – but it’s a problem that can be solved.

The OHSU School of Nursing and its partners in Union County are leading the way in showing how communities can come together to build a culture of health and ensure that all children – especially those in rural areas of Oregon – can grow up at a healthy weight.


Nancy Findholt, PhD, RN is an associate professor with the OHSU School of Nursing, La Grande campus and coordinates the Union County SNACZ project.

The magic bullet for heart health?

If you knew there was a “magic bullet” that would reduce your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) by 92% and lower your risk of other cardiovascular risk factors, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, by 66%, would you take it?

A recent large, prospective study showed what appears to be the key to drastically reducing the risk for heart disease in women aged 27-44, potentially preventing more than 70% of CHD and almost half of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol diagnoses in this group.

What is this revolutionary new recommendation, you ask? A healthy lifestyle. Specifically, the following six healthy lifestyle habits, which, when followed together, slashed the risk factors and incidence of heart disease in young women:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Get at least 2.5 hours of physical activity every week (that’s only 30 minutes 5 days a week – you can do that!)
  • Eat a healthy diet (try a Mediterranean or DASH plan)
  • Maintain a healthy weight (to calculate your BMI, go here)
  • Watch less than 7 hours of TV per week
  • Drink alcohol in moderation (one drink a day for women, two a day for men)

Not exactly groundbreaking, and maybe not even front-page news, but the message is clear – you hold the power to prevent heart disease. The choices you make every day are what will keep you healthy—we already have the magic bullet!

The not-so-good news is that only about 5% of the 88,940 women monitored in the study followed all six healthy lifestyle habits consistently. But committing to some or even one of these habits proved to be beneficial!

While this study looked at young women, these healthy lifestyle habits work for men and women of all ages. In the spirit of American Heart Month, commit to being part of the small (but growing!) group of people following all six pieces of the heart-healthy puzzle.

Need help getting started? Check out the Million Hearts Initiative for information about preventing heart disease and stroke, heart-healthy recipes, and 28-day meal plans.

What change will you adopt this month to protect your heart?


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.

Student perspective: OHSU School of Dentistry

Since 1899, the OHSU School of Dentistry has produced Dentists, Dental Specialists, and Dental Hygienists, as well as participating in research, patient care, outreach and community service throughout the region. This month, we hear from Farielle Houran, who is nearing the end of her four-year D.M.D student journey. 

How did you pick Dentistry?

I grew up in southwest Portland, graduating from Beaverton High School, and then Pacific University with a bachelor of science in biology, and a minor in Spanish.

Through a string of events and excellent mentorship throughout my years at Pacific, it was clear to me that God had put me on the journey to dentistry. I had no dental insurance growing up, so by the time I was in my teens, I had a lot of cavities, a tooth that needed a root canal, and a chipped central incisor. At an early age, I learned what it was like to be embarrassed of your teeth and in dental pain.

Luckily, I had an awesome dentist who took care of my dental problems, and put the idea of dentistry in my mind. After that, I spent time observing a dental hygienist and dentist when I was in high school. I got bored observing the hygienist, but loved the teaching aspect of dentistry, being able to help people smile, and the dental tools looked fun!  I also appreciate that as a dental professional, I am privileged with the opportunity to influence my community in a positive way.

Why did you choose OHSU?

The primary reason I chose OHSU is that it is in Oregon. The last four years have been the hardest years in my life so far, but a highlight is being able to learn dentistry with a group of 75 students, as well as mentored by some outstanding instructors. I love seeing my classmates interact with and treat their patients. I’ve learned so much from them, and that’s one of the many things I’m going to miss about being a student at OHSU after graduation.

What programs have you been involved with as an OHSU student?

I am the chief scheduler for dental students volunteering on four Medical Teams International vans, which the dental school utilizes monthly for care in low-income Portland neighborhoods. About 40 children per month receive oral care, thanks to these vans. We see a number of oral problems in the children who come to the vans. It’s not uncommon to hear dental students rave about the pediatric dental experience they have when volunteering on the vans.

I also created the Reach Out and Read program, which provides books and readers to dental school pediatric patients in the waiting areas. Other organizations I volunteer for include Give Kids a Smile, Sealant Day, and Celebration of Smiles.

Highlights of my four years include being a member and President of the Hispanic Student Dental Association. I was able to organize an annual school wide screening/fluoride application day at Cornelius elementary, a predominately Hispanic speaking k-5 school that I work at during undergrad.

I’ve also discovered the incredible opportunity to offer the skills that we’re taught in dental school in different countries, while being exposed to different cultures! In the last year and half, I’ve served on two dental humanitarian trips, traveling to Barron, Mexico in 2013, and Ecuador in 2014.

What are your plans for the future?

After graduation, I hope to advance further in pediatric dentistry, and ultimately work as an associate in a pediatric dentistry practice with a Spanish- speaking clientele. I love learning, and in dentistry, you’re constantly learning. Placing a child into the mix makes the profession that much more challenging, rewarding, and fun.

People are often surprised when I tell them I’m interested in pediatric dentistry, but I’ve always known that I wanted to work with children. I can’t look at a child and not smile. I love the aspect of preventative care in pediatric dentistry, and being able to start early in educating children about healthy oral habits.


For more from our students, be sure to visit our Student Speak blog.

6 easy tips for fueling during a run

There is so much that goes into running well. Good form, flexibility, strength, endurance, training, and good shoes. An often neglected aspect of running well is nutrition.

There are two main aspects of fueling on a run: hydration and fueling.

The main goal is to maintain energy levels for actively working muscles. Every runner has a unique “fuel economy” for a given pace, there is no one-size fits all approach for the perfect on-run fueling technique. Here are some key variables when considering fueling during a run:

  1. If your run is less than 30 minutes fueling is not usually needed.
  2. If your run is 30-60 some runners will benefit from fueling in-run.
  3. If you are running more than a hour, you need to fuel.
  4. When choosing a fuel source, it is important that the carbohydrate concentration is not too high – this can cause abdominal discomfort.  Energy drinks use 6-8 percent carbohydrate per serving.
  5. Choose a source that is easy for you to digest (gel, goo, bars, etc.) Everyone is different in terms of what works best.
  6. Consider using small fuel intake several times as opposed to one larger fuel load.

As with any “new” addition to your regime, make sure to take time to incorporate these strategies into your training runs. Use mid-week training runs to practice fueling techniques for your race, and make adjustments to find a fuel recipe that your body responds well to and stick with your best fueling strategy on race day.  Never start a new fueling program on a race day!

Enjoy your run!


Ryan Petering. M.D. specializes in Sports Medicine and Family Medicine. He also has special interest in Pediatric Care, Primary Care Sports Medicine, Recreational Athletes, and Wilderness Medicine.


Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week

It’s safe to say Kimmie Harding knows her way around OHSU. She’s been treated here for the last 34 years and counting for her Congenital Heart Defect (CHD).

Her passion for advocacy made her the perfect person to enlist to help raise awareness about CHD – and OHSU’s incredible care team – this CHD Awareness Week. Take it away, Kimmie!

What are Congenital Heart Defects?

Congenital Heart Defects are problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth. These defects range anywhere from leaky valves and holes in the walls of the heart to more severe forms, where blood vessels or heart chambers may be missing, poorly formed and/or in the wrong place. CHDs are the most common birth defect and are also the leading cause of birth defect-associated infant illness and death in the U.S.

How has your heart defect impacted your life?

Living with a critical CHD changes the way you see the world. I’ve heard the words “science hasn’t caught up with you yet” more times than I would have liked. I spent most of my childhood in hospitals (my second home!), limiting my activities and spending a lot of time feeling scared and wondering why I had to go through any of this (truthfully, I sometimes still wonder that). Living with CHD has the potential to drain a person, put a lot of stress on the family and deplete finances. That’s why I believe it’s important to be an advocate, to show the possibilities beyond the defect and to continue to fight for a better life.

How has OHSU been a part of your CHD journey?

OHSU has played an integral part in my heart health journey. CHD patients are in it for the long haul, and I’ve found that OHSU’s team atmosphere has helped through every step of the process. They helped my family when I was younger, and they helped me come to terms with the fact that this will never go away – something that was difficult to accept as a teenager and young adult. Now, as an adult, I find that they’re able to help educate me on how to advocate for my community.

I feel lucky to be a part of a health community that sees value in patient relationships. The Cardiac Cath team quite possibly has some of the funniest people on it; there’s nothing better than laughter before settling in for a cath! I’m grateful that my team works so diligently to seek out procedures and new treatments to keep my heart going so I can continue to live a productive life.

Photo courtesy of Kimmie Harding

Is there anything you wish people knew about CHD?

CHD in adults aren’t always visible on the outside. We have some wicked scars (we call them ‘battle zippers’) and we might walk a little slower or look tired (this happens to everyone though, right?), but those may be the only external indicators. As a result, I feel like the CHD community gets overlooked. Our battle is internal, but it’s still a serious one.

While there is a large community of people living with CHD, it’s not highly publicized or funded. There are more adult survivors like me than ever before due to technological advances, and I believe it’s imperative that CHD starts to gain the attention, funding and research needed to help bring more treatment options to those living with CHD. Even with the limited funding for CHD, I’ve witnessed huge leaps in science just in my lifetime. Can you imagine the amazing possibilities if more resources became available? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world where a CHD patient never had to hear “We’re waiting for science to catch up with you?”


Kimmie is sharing her CHD journey on her blog, View from the Recovery Trail. Though she can’t change the existence of heart problems, she hopes to change the way people think about them by educating the public about the CHD community.

Another great resource Kimmie recommends for adults and families dealing with CHD: the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA).

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

Participation Guidelines

Remember: information you share here is public; it isn't medical advice. Need advice or treatment? Contact your healthcare provider directly. Read our Terms of Use and this disclaimer for details.