Meet the School of Medicine's Diversity Navigators

Including Family Medicine Faculty Member, Dr. Anthony Cheng

01/17/19  Portland, Ore.

Donn Spight, M.D. (left), and Anthony Cheng, M.D. R’16, are the school’s inaugural diversity navigators.

Faculty members Anthony Cheng, M.D. R ‘16 (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.

“During our selection process for these positions, it was clear that Dr. Cheng and Dr. Spight both bring a deep understanding of just how remarkable strong, positive relationships can be to an aspiring physician who may feel marginalized or underrepresented among their peers,” said Amy Garcia, M.D., assistant dean for student affairs in the M.D. program. “They both have innovative ideas for addressing issues faced by these students. I look forward to seeing our medical students benefit from their guidance and mentorship.”

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.

Drs. Cheng and Spight were selected, in part, because of their understanding of the importance of culture to relationships, and the potential additional burdens that feeling like an outsider can bring to learners studying to become physicians. They join other faculty members and the administrative team who oversee the school’s undergraduate medical education Colleges Program.

“Supporting these students, who naturally interact with so much of our institution, will create opportunities to bring our OHSU community together in ways that help us see our diversity, honor our unique contributions and unite around our shared missions of training the health care workforce for the future, providing excellent patient care, and advancing science,” said Dr. Cheng. “Much work remains to be done and I am inspired by OHSU’s commitment to promoting the success of these students who have worked so hard to succeed.”

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.

“It is an honor to be chosen for this role, which is a natural extension of the work I and others have been doing,” said Dr. Spight. “It is encouraging to see the organization recognize that intentional, personalized guidance for learners who may not have access to mentors can help create the culture of diversity and inclusion we want at OHSU.”

Skender Najibi, M.D., developed the vision for these positions in his scholarly project before he graduated. Goals of the diversity navigators include addressing isolation and disparities affecting student health and well-being, ensuring equitable opportunities for students, and advancing a culture that demonstrates and advocates respect for all.