Commitment to diversity and Inclusion

School of medicine diversity definition for students

Diversity at OHSU means creating a community of inclusion. We honor, respect, embrace and value the unique contributions and perspectives of all employees, patients, students, volunteers and our local and global communities. Diversity maximizes our true potential for creativity, innovation, quality patient care, educational excellence, and outstanding service.

Diversity includes age, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, color, religion, sexual orientation, and diversity of thought, ideas and more. Although each of these is important in their own right, the School of Medicine is explicitly committed to increasing the diversity of its student body in the following three areas:

  • Persons from racial or ethnic groups that are under-represented in medicine and biomedical research: Black or African American, Latino or Hispanic (originating from Mexico, Central or South America, or Caribbean cultures), American Indian/Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander.
  • Persons from rural environments, defined as the majority of childhood years in a frontier environment or rural town as defined by the Oregon Office of Rural Health (i.e., a town of less than or equal to 40,000 population and at least 10 miles from a community of that size or larger).
  • Persons who have experienced significant disadvantage or adversity (i.e., first generation college graduate, recipient of  social service resources while in elementary or secondary school, enhanced education or other programs for diverse populations, or by experience of economic, educational, cultural, or family adversity).
MD Program Student Affairs Diversity and Inclusion

Faculty members Anthony Cheng, M.D. (pictured right) and Donn Spight, M.D. (pictured left), are the School of Medicine’s inaugural diversity navigators for M.D. students who self-identify as belonging to diverse or underrepresented groups. In these roles, Drs. Cheng and Spight will provide individual and group support and mentoring to medical students who request to be paired with a diversity navigator.

Dr. Cheng, assistant professor of family medicine, OHSU School of Medicine, practices full spectrum family medicine, and has special interests in addictions treatment, LGBTQ+ health and health equity. He also serves as assistant director for the family medicine residency program, which he graduated from in 2016.

Dr. Spight, associate professor of surgery, OHSU School of Medicine, is a minimally invasive foregut and bariatric surgeon, is associate director of the general surgery residency program and is actively involved in the graduate medical education "second look" days, which aim to foster diversity among GME trainees. He has been involved in simulation since 2007, and is currently medical director of OHSU Simulation.

The UME diversity navigators complement and extend beyond what is offered by the Office of Student Affairs and the Colleges Coaching program, for students who desire additional culturally sensitive and culturally competent mentorship and advising throughout a student’s enrollment in the M.D. program.

The House Officers Association has launched a mentorship program to pair diverse residents and faculty with diverse students to support and sustain their academic and professional development.

Allison Empey, M.D., and Marica Baleilevuka-Hart, M.D., presented the initiative to School of Medicine leaders in fall 2016. The Diverse Medical Student Mentorship Program is intended to meet a need, surfaced by students, for mentors who share their cultural, racial and/or sexual orientation experience and can assist students in navigating their trainee years.

The program assists not only in recruitment but retention of diverse students, residents and faculty.

In medical school at OHSU, Baleilevuka-Hart was a diversity scholar who sought more mentorship opportunities. As a resident, she has co-developed the framework for the program with Dr. Empey.

During development, feedback from residents revealed that being paired with one mentor presented challenges. The Diverse Medical Student Mentorship Program presents a more inclusive model in which students will have a list of potential mentors to choose from.

Contact Marica E. Baleilev-Hart, M.D. at baleilev@ohsu.edu or 503-494-8211 for more information. 

Browse all student interest groups and resources in the Center for Diversity and Inclusion

OHSU is committed to providing equal access to qualified students who experience a disability in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) of 1990, and the ADA Amendments Act (ADA-AA) of 2008. 

OHSU has distinguished itself as a leader among Academic Health Centers regarding gender affirming care with the establishment of the OHSU Transgender Health Program in 2015.  The program “strives to advance a vision of safe, affirming and welcoming care for all transgender and gender nonbinary individuals at every touch point across the organization.” (OHSU News Dec. 21, 2017)  In 2017, OHSU approved and implemented the Gender Designated Facilities Policy so that “all OHSU members, patients, and visitors by ensuring that individuals may use Gender Designated Facilities that best align with their gender identity or expression.”  For additional information, see the Gender Designated Facilities FAQ.