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Diversity in Medicine

OHSU welcomes most diverse class ever

8/14/2019, 9:40 a.m.
Oregon Health and Sciences University is celebrating an incoming class of future medical doctors that is the most racially diverse ...
Oregon Health and Sciences University welcomes incoming students to campus, the school’s most racially diverse group ever of future doctors. The class of 2023 includes Native Americans and Native Alaskans recruited as part of a special outreach, pictured here with faculty and program staff. Photo by Erin Hoover Barnett/OHSU

Oregon Health and Sciences University is celebrating an incoming class of future medical doctors that is the most racially diverse group in school history. The class of 2023 stood shoulder-to-shoulder on Friday donning their white medical coats for the first time and reciting the medical Oath of Geneva as an audience of physicians, family members, friends and mentors gave their smiles and tears.

The ceremony marked the beginning of the 160 students’ formal training. Over 60 percent of the class is female, and over 30 percent are from racial or ethnic backgrounds other than white and from a disadvantaged background, OHSU said. Fourteen percent also came from a racial or ethnic group underrepresented in medicine.

For the first time, the incoming group also include recruits from a new OHSU program specifically aimed at preparing Alaska Native and Native Americans to excel in medical school, called the Wy’East Post-Baccalaureate Pathway.

Christopher Ponce Campuzano, an OHSU medical student from the Class of 2023 gets a hug from mentor Carolyn Zook, a member of the undergraduate medical education program team. Campuzano is the first immigrant of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status in the school’s most racially diverse incoming class.

Christopher Ponce Campuzano, an OHSU medical student from the Class of 2023 gets a hug from mentor Carolyn Zook, a member of the undergraduate medical education program team. Campuzano is the first immigrant of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status in the school’s most racially diverse incoming class.

“I’m so much more confident and comfortable not only in the idea of becoming a physician but just starting medical school,” said Kyna Lewis, a Tlingit Alaskan Native and Wy’East cohort member. “I found a place where I actually belong. I have a community. That’s more than I could have hoped for.”

Another student from incoming class represented the first immigrant student who has Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status. Ponce Campuzano was one of three members of the class of 2023 to have participated in the OHSU Equity Summer Research Program, an eight-week, hands-on internship with research and clinical elements.

“That summer I fell in love with the medical research I was doing at OHSU, and the amount of support I was getting from the faculty and staff on a daily basis,” he said, describing the roots to his inspiration for applying to the medical school.