Family Medicine's State of the Department

Reflecting on the Past, Looking Ahead

04/06/17  Portland, Ore.

This month I had the pleasure of presenting my first State of the Department Address as the Chair of OHSU Family Medicine. It was a huge team effort pulling together data and other information regarding this year's activities, and it also provided a great opportunity to look back on years – decades, even – to reflect on how far we've come, and consider how far we've yet to go.

Our team

This year, we reached an incredible 409 total FTE for the department. Keeping in mind many of our employees do not work full time, we have reached over 500 people total on the Family Medicine team. In comparison, we had 332 FTE just two years ago. In 1998, we had 23 faculty FTE – today, we have reached 121 faculty FTE (and a total of 138 faculty members). What an incredible testament to how much we have grown!

Department finances

Financially, we continue to see an increase in department revenues. We receive a similar amount of money from the School of Medicine year after year; however, the growth of our grant dollars, clinical work, and other endeavors has enabled us to build new programs and experience remarkable growth in all of our mission areas. We are excited about this continued growth and will look for more opportunities – particularly in re-igniting our philanthropic efforts – to make sure we stay strong for years to come.

Revising our structure

In January, I talked about our strategic planning process and the restructure of our department to help us fulfill our vision. It is with this structure in mind that we reflect on the past year and set our goals for the future.


Medical Student Education

This year, the Medical Student Education team sent 20 OHSU medical student graduates – that's 15 percent of OHSU's graduating class – to family medicine residencies across the country. Two of our graduates matched at our Cascades East residency program, and two graduates matched at our Portland residency program. Fifteen percent beats the national average of about eight percent, but it is not enough to make up for the current and future primary care shortage. This year, we celebrate 15 percent, and gear up to grow that number here at OHSU and at medical schools across the country next year.


The Cascades East residency saw an increase in applicants this year, bringing them to 1,105. The team interviewed 96 of those applicants to find 8 new interns to join the program next year.

The Portland residency received 1,196 applications, 682 of which came from U.S. seniors – an increase of almost 100 from last year. For their 12 open spots, the team interviewed 175 eager candidates.

Recognizing the residency websites are some of our most-visited, the team also combed through, recreated, rewrote, and revamped their webpages.

Research and scholarship

The research team took time this year to develop a list of core areas of expertise, defining them as:

  • Clinical & Chronic Disease Research
  • Population Health, Equity, & Policy
  • Medical Education Research
  • Dissemination & Implementation
  • Innovation & Practice Transformation

These areas were used to re-design areas of our websites for better sharing work with colleagues, collaborators, and funding sources.


In 2016, the department received 29 awards from over 20 different funding agencies, and pushed ourselves to aim bigger and higher. Our team even reached for a $100M MacArthur grant, which included a video component. Ultimately the grant was not awarded, but the foundation offered positive insights, and the application process helped us take a close look at primary care and how we, and international collaborators, can work to improve it.


We had 144 peer-reviewed citations in 2016, as compared to 70 in 2008. We had an overall total number of publications of 196 in 2016, as compared to 103 in 2008. Our work was published in over 40 different journals, including Family Medicine, the New England Journal of Medicine, the British Medical Journal, the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, and many other high impact publications.


This year, we reflect on 14 clinics and clinical programs, including brand new Primary Care clinics at Beaverton and Orenco Station. As always, our clinic visit numbers grew immensely over the past year. As we celebrate the number of visits we've provided to patients, we are also looking at our numbers a little differently – in lives covered and families kept healthy, rather than just focusing on visit statistics. This year, nearly a quarter of our payments are coming from alternative payment models that focus on population health initiatives and the quality of care we provide, and we look forward to expanding our metrics for success far beyond visit numbers in the next year.

Inpatient care

Our inpatient admission numbers remained steady in 2016 – if not slightly lower than last year. We are happy to consider this a win; patients who spend less time in the hospital, or who do not go at all, are healthy patients – unless, of course, they are having babies! We delivered 279 new family members last year, and hope to grow those numbers in the upcoming year.


Our department is growing in numbers, in miles traveled, and in communities served; thus, creative ways to stay connected and keep current on department happenings have become even more important. We launched our newsfeed, created a space to talk about our commitment to diversity, and created pages for learners and job seekers.

Over the past two years, social media followers have more than tripled, and newsletter readership has increased by 33 percent.

Looking ahead

We laid out several opportunities for 2017, including:

  • Strategic leadership in primary care growth across OHSU's clinical system
  • Create a blueprint to further expand our residency network
  • Accelerate efforts to transform our model of team-based care and comprehensive primary care delivery
  • Build systems for supporting population health efforts
  • Grow OHSU's Family Medicine Interest Group and reach >20% students matching in Family Medicine
  • Build stronger ties across all of our mission areas
  • Re-ignite philanthropy
  • Continue our tradition of providing national leadership for our discipline
  • Establish a Center for Primary Care Innovation
  • Become the #1 Family Medicine program in the country (we were ranked 2nd again this year!)
  • Focus on faculty development and growth 
  • Integrate Research into clinical systems

It was a great honor to have the opportunity to reflect on our amazing progress in 2016 and look forward into our exciting future. I'm always bursting with pride when describing the wonderful work done by our team every day. I am also grateful to work with such an inspirational group of people who support and challenge each other to be the best we can be and to care so compassionately for our patients and colleagues. As I reached the end of my address (delivered to an enthusiastic group wearing a rainbow of colors across our department), I was reminded of the song "True Colors:"

I see your true colors 
Shining through I see your true colors 
And that's why I love you 
So don't be afraid to let them show 
Your true colors 
True colors are beautiful 
Like a rainbow.