Drs. John Saultz, Laurel Case & Robert Taylor
Three Chairs (L to R): John Saultz, MD, Laurel Case, MD and Robert Taylor, MD
The Department of Family Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) was established in 1971, shortly after the specialty of family practice was created in 1969.The founding chairman, Dr. Laurel Case, assembled a faculty comprised largely of family physicians that left practice to enter academic medicine.The original goal of the Department was to create a presence for the new specialty in the medical school and to start a family medicine residency at University Hospital.The first residents entered the program in 1971 and it served as the State's only family medicine residency until the Cascades East residency in Klamath Falls opened in 1994.




By the early 1980s, the Department had established a residency program with a strong reputation, a solid clinical practice located on the University campus, and an important presence for our specialty within the OHSU School of Medicine.

In 1984, Dr. Robert B. Taylor came to Oregon from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina as the Department's second chairman.Dr. Taylor recruited faculty members who had formal fellowship training and prior academic experience, and the decade of the 1980s witnessed substantial expansion, notably in the Department's medical student education programs.

In 1986, Dr. John Saultz was recruited to replace the program's founding residency director, Dr. William Fisher.In 1988, a fourth year chief resident position was created to assist in residency operations and provide a residency-based faculty development experience for one residency graduate each year.

The late 1980s witnessed a comprehensive overhaul of the School of Medicine's curriculum that involved several important innovations.First, the School of Medicine developed a Principles of Clinical Medicine course to run longitudinally through the first two years of medical school, involving approximately one day per week of medical student time.Half of this time was devoted to small-group problem-based learning, while one half day per week was dedicated to ongoing clinical care to insure that our students had a continuity clinical experience from the very first days of medical school.The Principles of Clinical Medicine course was developed by an interdisciplinary committee that was headed by Drs. William Toffler and Scott Fields from the Department of Family Medicine. In 1988, an ambulatory care clerkship was added to the third year curriculum of the School of Medicine, which ultimately evolved into a required third year clerkship in family medicine for our medical students.


The 1990s were a decade of rapid growth for the Department.During this time our faculty increased from fifteen to fifty primary faculty members.

OHSU developed a third year rural community health clerkship in 1991 in conjunction with the Oregon Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program.This six-week clerkship allows students to travel to small towns throughout Oregon to learn about community-based health care, especially in a rural setting.At the same time, our ambulatory care clerkship became a required family medicine clerkship, resulting in two required third year clerkships that are directly related to family medicine.

Also in 1991, with support from Oregon AHEC, the residency was expanded from 8 to 10 positions each year and new required rotations were created in rural Oregon communities.In 1995, Dr. Eric Walsh was required to become the program's third residency director after Dr. Saultz became director of the statewide AHEC.

Between 1993 and 1998, we established three new family medicine centers in the Portland Metropolitan Area – OHSU Family Medicine at Gabriel Park, Richmond and Scappoose – and relocated two thirds of our residents into these new practices away from the OHSU campus.

The Cascades East Family Medicine Residency opened in 1994 in Klamath Falls, Oregon, with a curriculum focused on the training of rural family physicians.Dr. Jim Calvert was recruited to become the program's first residency director.In 1996 the Department established a four-year combined family medicine/preventive medicine residency under the leadership of Dr Bruce Goldberg.

The first annual CME lecture series honoring Dr. Merle Pennington, one of the founding faculty members, was held in 1996.The Pennington lectures have been held every year since and have focused on evidence-based continuing education from family medicine faculty members for practicing family physicians.

Dr. John Saultz was selected as the Department's third chairman in 1998, after having served as the residency director and vice chairman in the Department and as Assistant Dean of Primary Care of the School of Medicine.

Philanthropy has been important in the success of OHSU Family Medicine. The cornerstone of the Department's fund-raising effort is the Robert B. Taylor Society, which started in 1998.


The Providence Family Medicine Residency in Metro Portland opened in 2001.This new program, affiliated with our Department, brought the total number of residency programs in Oregon and nearby Vancouver, Washington, to four.Also in 2001, Dr. Rob Ross was appointed to serve as Director of the Cascades East Family Practice Residency Program, succeeding founding chairman, Dr. James Calvert.

We began the Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN) in 2002, led by Dr. L. J. Fagnan, helping physicians across Oregon learn the answers to important clinical questions.

The Department has an extensive international presence.We have hosted visiting physicians from Japan, as well as from Belgium, Russia, Korea, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, England and Saudi Arabia.In 2002, we developed a physician exchange with the Japanese Association for the Development of Community Medicine (JADECOM) in Japan.

The OHSU South Waterfront Family Medicine Clinic opened in October 2006, on the 9th floor of the new OHSU Center for Health and Healing at the South Waterfront Campus, and the old Marquam Hill/Emma Jones Hall clinic closed its doors.

Our department's research enterprise grew dramatically during the 2000's.In 2007, we received a generous gift from the Kaiser foundation to establish our first endowed professorship.Richard A. Deyo, MD, MPH was selected as the Kaiser Permanente Professor in Evidence Based Family Medicine.Also in 2007, Drs. Patty Carney and Patrice Eiff were selected to lead the evaluation team for the P4 project, a national experiment to create new family medicine residency curricular models.

Roger Garvin, MD became the Department's fourth residency director in 2007.The Family Medicine Sports Medicine Fellowship was approved for two fellows each year in 2008.


OHSU Family Medicine faculty members currently see patients in four clinics in the Portland metro area and the residency practice in Klamath Falls. Our annual patient care activity in these clinics totals more than 175,000 outpatient visits. We care for own patients, adults and children, in the hospital and have developed a program to visit every patient daily even when they are admitted to other clinical services.In 2010, we opened Ward 5C in university hospital as the geographic home for hospitalized family medicine patients and now include the head nurse from 5C as part of our clinical management team.

OHSU Family Medicine has a rapidly growing program in geriatrics and palliative care, having developed a relationship with a national hospice care company as well as numerous long-term care facilities.In 2011, we developed a focused program to provide transitional care to patients discharged from the hospital.We also developed pilot programs to fully integrate mental health services into the primary care setting.In 2012, each of our clinical practices achieved recognition as level three patient-centered medical homes, the highest level recognized by the State of Oregon.

The first annual Laurel Case Visiting Professorship was held in 2011.The professorship was established to honor our founding chairman shortly after his death in 2010.The goal of the professorship is to host a national or international leader in academic medicine to the OHSU campus yearly in tribute to Dr. Case.


For more than a decade, U.S. News and World Report has placed OHSU Family Medicine among the top medical school departments in the nation.Through the hard work of our primary and volunteer faculty members, the Department continues to lead key programs in the medical school, administer three of the nation's leading residency programs, care for patients in our family health centers, and initiate stimulating new activities that advance family medicine in Oregon, the USA and worldwide.