Child Advocacy and Community Health Training

A group of OHSU Pediatric Residents at the Oregon State House posing in a doorway above which reads "House of Representatives."

Pediatricians play a key role in promoting the health and well-being of children. Therefore, we view advocacy training as a vital part of resident education. Our longitudinal and multifaceted child advocacy curriculum highlights the role of the physician advocate on the individual, community, and legislative level through both didactic and interactive sessions as well as independent rotations. Eventually, residents develop skills that prepare them for their role as lifelong advocates within their communities. The curriculum includes the following elements:

CACH (Child Advocacy & Community Health) Rotation 1

The best learning about our community occurs out in the community. With this in mind, we begin with an exploration of the world in which our patients live by examining demographics, poverty, and other social determinants of health in Portland. Next, residents learn about the resources available in the area to help families. The intern year rotation provides a number of hands-on experiences and observational opportunities including work in safety-net and school-based clinics; visits to WIC and Early Intervention programs; and home visits with a community health nurse. Residents work on independent community-assessment activities and have the opportunity to explore other community-based organizations that work to promote the health of children.

CACH (Child Advocacy & Community Health) Rotation 2

During the second year, residents build upon their intern experience by choosing an advocacy topic to explore in greater detail. Residents use their understanding of the community, and the needs of children within it, to select an issue, identify resources, gather feedback from stakeholders, and craft a possible intervention using an innovative planning tool along with faculty guidance. Residents also participate in additional leadership training through guided exercises, readings, and reflection.

CACH Policy

We have a longitudinal curriculum designed to help residents learn and practice the skills necessary to advocate for children at the legislative level. Residents learn to create educational campaigns, develop media strategy, write an op-ed, and give legislative testimony in a collaborative and supportive group environment. By identifying and addressing a real need of children in our community, we learn the skills together and can employ them to impact the lives of kids here in Portland. This real, hands-on experience allows our residents to truly develop the core skills necessary to become an effective advocate. Faculty for this curriculum include pediatricians, state legislators, community organization members, and media experts.

A group of OHSU Pediatric Residents sitting together on stairs at the Oregon State House.

Resident Advocacy Opportunities

Our residents have been leaders in local, state, and national advocacy projects. From our committed immunization program for families of our patients, to innovative work in food insecurity and early literacy, to national initiatives using social media as an advocacy tool, we remain committed to doing great things for kids! Many OHSU faculty are involved in advocacy efforts at the local, national, and international level and can serve as mentors for residents. Some topics areas include:  

  • Nutrition: food insecurity, obesity, child nutrition programs, exercise and health promotion 

  • Foster care 

  • Legislative advocacy 

  • Early brain and child development: universal pre-K, school readiness, Reach Out and Read 

  • LGBTQ advocacy 

  • Oral Health: fluoride 

  • Injury prevention: gun violence, child passenger safety, safe sleep, home safety, poison prevention 

  • Global health 

  • Child maltreatment 

  • Professional organization leadership (e.g. American Academy of Pediatrics, Oregon Pediatric Society) 

  • Adolescent health 

  • Immunizations

Resident CATCH Grants

Residents are encouraged to apply for a Resident CATCH (Community Access to Children’s Health) Grant, administered by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Our institution has both faculty and resident liaisons to this national program who help support the application process and implementation of projects.