Anti-Oppression and Family Medicine:

A Commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI)

Oregon Health & Science University’s (OHSU) Department of Family Medicine is committed to the ongoing growth journey of living out anti-oppressive and anti-racist principles. We commit to these principles to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the Department, institution, and broader community.

Family Medicine as a specialty started as a countercultural movement against more mainstream healthcare in the 1960s, to orient a largely disease-focused and organ-centered system towards people, communities, and relationships. Since then, the specialty has re-examined and re-contextualized these values intermittently, leading to Family Medicine more explicitly embedding social justice values, such as promoting racial justice, supporting LGBTQIA+ rights, advancing abortion care, expanding healthcare services to areas under-served by the overarching healthcare system.

We are reminded too regularly in current events and local contexts that significant work remains for the specialty – including our Department – to embody these values in such a way that anti-oppression, justice, and relationships are at the center of what we do and how we do it.

We know from both scholars and communities with lived experience/expertise of oppression that at the root of health injustice is human-made imbalances of power and opportunity that impact life chances and have multi-generational consequences. Therefore, to effectively and sustainably advance health justice, health systems must redistribute and build power. Doing so means critically examining how power differentials impact us individually, in our relationships, and in the structures and policies we are in — and working intentionally to re-distribute and build power in a way that uplifts those who are most harmed.

Departmental activities

We share below a few examples of Departmental programs and activities that seek to advance justice, equity, diversity, and/or inclusion.

And we share these activities not to offer any impression that our anti-oppression work is anywhere near complete; instead, these are offered to provide folx outside of our Department an understanding of our current activities, and colleagues within our Department an opportunity to coordinate with existing programs.

If you are curious to learn even more about other anti-oppression and power-building activities occurring as part of the Department, please see our JEDI Dashboard here. The Dashboard exists to promote collaboration, while minimizing fragmentation and silo’ing.

  • Residents and faculty created the Health Equity and Social Justice group (HESJ), which holds space for reflecting, discussing, and learning about equity and structural forms of oppression. Events are open to department and community members, and use racial caucusing with the goal of fostering healing and creating braver spaces without causing harm to POC colleagues.
  • Residents and faculty have worked to integrate anti-oppression learning into the curriculum.

  • Our researchers study access to health care, disparities in care, and how changes in health policy impact population health. Their findings inform community, practice and policy interventions that improve the delivery of care for vulnerable populations and reduce health disparities.

  • Christina Milano, MD, co-founded OHSU’s Transgender Health Program. Our clinics provide safe, comprehensive, affirming health care for the transgender and gender-nonconforming communities.
  • Cliff Coleman, MD, MPH, is an award-winning expert in health literacy, developing and delivering a curriculum to make clear communication the norm in health care.
  • Sonia Sosa, MD, is an expert in integrative medicine, including nutrition, western herbs, mind-body medicine, and manipulative medicine.

  • Erik Brodt, MD, leads the Northwest Native American Center of Excellence (NNACoE), which works to comprehensively and sustainably address the health care needs of all people by amplifying Native American voices in the U.S. health professions workforce
  • Richmond Clinic’s Health Equity and Leadership (HEAL) Team implements relational community organizing to instill anti-oppressive team practices, organize listening sessions, and create community-powered structural change.

Supporting our work

In the summer of 2020, Department leadership endowed a portion of Departmental reserves – and established a spending fund – to support the creation of the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Endowment Fund. The fund aims to advance inclusion, belonging, and health justice for colleagues and community members experiencing structural harm and oppression. This fund supports both our communities learning and working within OHSU and our communities outside of OHSU.