School of Nursing

Early Career Achievement Award - Dr. Rachael Postman

2018 Early Career Achievement Award - Dr. Rachael Postman

Headshot of Rachael Postman

The OHSU School of Nursing Alumni Association (SNAA) is proud to recognize Rachael Postman, M.N. '13, D.N.P. '14, as the recipient of its Early Career Achievement Award for 2018.

The growing recognition of the impact of social determinants on health outcomes has led to an increased focus on the social and environmental experiences of patients. These experiences are, in turn, informing and changing OHSU's education and clinical missions.

Dr. Postman sees first-hand the impact of social conditions on health outcomes in her role at OHSU's Family Medicine clinic in the Richmond neighborhood of Portland.

"The Richmond Clinic is a federally qualified health center," said Dr. Postman. "Our patients are typically experiencing some degree of poverty, homelessness, complex chronic illness or psychosocial trauma. Often is it a combination of all four."

Dr. Postman's peers and colleagues at the Richmond Clinic recognize her leadership in patient-centered care communication and treatment, and its impact on improving health outcomes.

"Just because a patient's illness is complex, it doesn't mean our relationship with them has to be," said Dr. Postman. "It's essential we recognize who and where our patients are, craft plans and treatments that include them, and address their medical and social needs in a way that is understandable to them."

Dr. Postman serves as founding chair of the Richmond Clinic Health Literacy Committee. This committee, which includes patient representatives, is responsible for reviewing written materials and signage created for patients, to ensure materials are written with health literacy best practices in mind. The committee also provides education to providers and staff to support them in using language that is easy for everyone to understand. She also lectures on health literacy to medical and nursing students, as well as OHSU employees in other departments, and at conferences.

In addition, Dr. Postman has developed a variety of food and nutrition interventions at Richmond. She initially started by organizing a farmer's market in the clinic parking lot in 2011 to help increase patient access to and education about healthy foods. Over the years, with grant funding, this intervention has lead to the CSA Partnerships for Health, a program providing subsidized local produce to a designated group of high-risk patients and families.

Dr. Postman also founded Richmond's Food and Nutrition Work Group, which has organized free cooking classes for patients, created a small community garden in the clinic parking lot. She advocated for the creation of a permanent position titled the Social Determinants of Health Coordinator – a first of its kind in primary care at Richmond – who works to address the upstream factors that impact patient's health. These include food, education, and housing.

As one of Dr. Postman's many nominators wrote, "Dr. Postman recognizes that medicine is only one part of the puzzle in meeting our patients' complex health needs. Social determinants like having healthy food, safe shelter and social support are huge contributors to health and wellness."

"I'm honored to accept the Early Career Achievement award from the OHSU School of Nursing Alumni Association, and would also acknowledge the team that I work with at OHSU Richmond," said Dr. Postman. "The interventions I've been able to work on would not be possible without a leadership team that supports innovation and creative thinking. The mission-driven colleagues with whom I work every day have also helped me to develop and implement these projects."

"I'd also like to thank the OHSU School of Nursing Alumni Association for the scholarship funding that was awarded to me during my time as an undergraduate nursing student at OHSU in 2005-2007. Going to nursing school, and then nurse practitioner school, were some of the best decisions I made, and I have the Alumni Association in part to thank for that!"

The School of Nursing Alumni Association recognizes the extraordinary service and contributions to improving human health and health care made daily by graduates of the school. For more information about the SNAA awards program, and to receive further information about nominating an individual, please email alumni@ohsu.edu.