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Health Equity & Disparities Track

Do you have a unique passion in the care of diverse populations and want to be part of our mission of eliminating disparities in health outcomes? Read on!

Oakland serves incredibly diverse populations, whether defined by socioeconomic status, social determinants of health, race or ethnicity. You can be part of the tradition of the first Kaiser medical center that offered dedicated clinics in HIV care (in the 1980s) and in the care of LGBTQ individuals. You could say ensuring the best possible health outcomes for individuals of all backgrounds is in our DNA.

Nationally, such diversity is usually matched by similar discrepancies in healthcare outcomes. Kaiser Northern California has been shown to be a significant exception to this rule, thereby providing you a unique window to train in a model of healthcare delivery which can reduce or even eliminate disparities in healthcare outcomes within a diverse population.

The Health Equity and Disparities track will allow you opportunities to examine the Kaiser model alongside a community health model, and will position you to be leaders in eliminating healthcare disparities. As a Health Equities and Disparities resident, you will have continuity clinics both within the Kaiser Permanente system and in the community at a safety net clinic.

National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) Code: 1042130M0

Residents interested in both the Health Equity and Disparities and Categorical IM tracks at KP Oakland should know that these programs have unique NRMP code numbers and are separately matched programs.

  • Clinical Experience:You will have the unique opportunity to manage patients longitudinally in a Kaiser Oakland adult medicine clinic and in a community partner clinic along with the core requirements of an internal medicine residency
  • Scholarly Activity: You will engage in scholarly projects mentored by Kaiser Division of Research investigators who specialize in Health Care Disparities and Health Care Delivery and Policy.
  • Community Advocacy & Health Policy: By being embedded in community sites, you will help build meaningful and collaborative partnerships to support our surrounding community organizations in Oakland and the greater East Bay. You will also take part in a fully funded, special 2-week Health Policy elective, led by Kaiser in partnership with policy experts from Washington, DC.

I was very intentional about what I was looking for in my residency training. This included working in a diverse patient population where I could also utilize my Spanish and being able to engage and partner with the community I serve throughout my three years of training. I also wanted excellent inpatient and outpatient training within a healthcare system that I could support. Kaiser Permanente Oakland was the only program that allowed me to work in such a great system but still have the duality of being in the community through my outpatient community health continuity clinic and my Kaiser Permanente continuity clinic. It was exactly what I was looking for and I’m thrilled to be part of this great opportunity!

Jessica Himmelstein, MD

When it came to choosing a residency program, the health disparities track at Kaiser Oakland was exactly the place I wanted to train! Throughout my undergraduate experiences and most recently in medical school, I gravitated towards efforts in working and bridging the gap for our underserved urban neighborhoods. I learned early on that in order to make purposeful change, gaining trust and engaging local members in the decision-making process is key to successfully help communities overcome barriers in healthcare access. This program allows me to grow, learn, and be able to practice culture humility beyond the hospital walls. With Kaiser Oakland’s incredibly diverse patient population, I am excited that this track will provide me with the skill set needed to reach marginalized groups unable to receive care in this great time of need.

Karina Chavez, MD

Elective Opportunities for Residents in the Health Equity and Disparities Track

Our flexible program encourages you to bring your unique background, perspective, and passion to create an individualized schedule of experiences to meet your goals.

A partial list of electives includes:

African American Health

  • Rotation in our Specialty Blood Pressure clinic, focused on hypertension in African American Patients.
  • Teaching in our group visits for hypertension and Diabetes for African American Patients.

Latino Health

  • Rotation in La Salud en Espanol (on campus clinic at Kaiser Oakland)
  • Continuity clinic at a federally qualified Latino health center
  • Intensive Spanish Immersion Course
  • Medical Spanish Classes
  • Migrant Worker elective

Health Policy Elective

Learn key aspects of U.S. health policy and how it impacts community health delivery through a special 2-week elective in Health Policy co-taught by professors from George Washington University and Kaiser.
Elective includes Seminars with policy experts in:

  • Health Disparities
  • Health Economics
  • Quality Improvement
  • Community field trip site visits to explore the range of federally and locally supported community clinics, including branches of the California Department of Public Health.

You may also opt to witness policy making first-hand, through trips to state and local health policy sites and will have the opportunity to apply policy analysis to real-world challenges by completing a project in health policy.

Resident Elective in Health Policy Course

See comments below from residents who have experienced this elective.

This elective is a wonderful opportunity for residents with an interest in health policy. Through a variety of seminars and site visits, I learned so much about current health policy issues that are particularly important for residents.

Stephanie Kim, MD

The Health policy elective was an amazing collaboration through GW and Kaiser Southern California. It reminded me why I wanted to be a doctor in the first place. The 3 weeks brought together the experience and connections from the GW health policy faculty and the on the ground examples from physicians working in California as well as across the country. It was inspiring to see the variety of careers physicians had in health policy, from speaking with the founders of primary care progress to visiting shelters and safe spaces for foster children in south LA.

Somalee Banerjee, MD, 4th Year Combined Master of Public Health/Internal Medicine Resident

The Resident Elective in Health Policy (REHP) in Los Angeles was a career changing experience for me. During the two weeks, we had the incredible opportunity to hear presentations from the leaders of health policy; to visit sites around the city where there were actively working on improving health conditions for a variety of communities including the LGBTQ, the homeless, the recently incarcerated, the gang members, the undocumented and to learn from recent graduates in different specialties about how they are involved in public health, health policy, and health disparity work. Prior to attending the REHP, I had been interested in health policy; for example, I was a member of the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) in New York. Health disparity and injustice are subjects that I wanted to incorporate into my career as a physician and the REHP provided a foundation to do so, by enlightening me about the current landscape, by providing mentors and networking opportunities, and by changing my paradigm. Fighting against disparity and injustice is an ongoing struggle and my paradigm has shifted from only focusing on activism on the ground to incorporating activism into projects and presentations which may lead to change in policies and, hopefully, equity. There exists a passionate group within the medical community who is dedicated to health equity, and the REHP was the map that helped me navigate towards that group.

Yalda Shahram, MD

Global Health Disparities

  • You can learn key aspects about the unique challenges in eliminating disparities globally. A variety of international experiences are available through Kaiser Permanente Global Health Programs
  • HIV: Work in a multi-disciplinary team in the HIV clinic at Kaiser Oakland and in community HIV clinics
  • LGBTQ Health: Work in a multi-disciplinary team in the LGBTQ clinic at Kaiser Oakland
  • Native American Health Center


How does the Health Equity & Disparities track differ from the IM/MPH track at Kaiser Oakland ?

If you are interested in in-depth training in social justice and in eliminating disparities in health care you should consider the IM/MPH or Health Equity & Disparities tracks. Both tracks have separate NRMP codes and it is not uncommon to apply to either (or both) of these tracks in addition to applying to the categorical program.

The IM/MPH track extends your training by a year so residents can obtain their MPH degree from UC Berkeley while still being fully supported and funded by Kaiser. In this track, you will gain epidemiologic research skills in a mentored setting, obtain an MPH, and use your elective time during residency and the MPH year to tailor their public health experiences to meet your unique career interests, whether it be public or global health, leadership, clinical practice in diverse settings, academic medicine, or fellowship.

Health Equity & Disparities track residents spend over a third of their 3-year residency training in community settings, truly experiencing the ‘best of both worlds’ clinical practices at Kaiser and in several FQHCs in the East Bay. As a Health Equity & Disparities resident, you will learn the intricacies of different systems of care delivery by managing longitudinal panels of patients at both Kaiser and at our community partner, Lifelong Medical, an FQHC in Oakland, and have unique access to rotations such as San Quentin Prison. In this track, if you are interested in scholarly activity you will work with mentors in the Disparities division of the Kaiser Division of Research. Upon completing training in the Health Equity and Disparities track, you will be a well-trained internal medicine physician able to care for underserved and vulnerable populations and actively address the multi-level factors that influence health disparities in the communities you will serve. You will have dedicated mentoring by faculty who are passionate about diversity and eliminating disparities and who are engaged in community advocacy and policy initiatives.

How does the schedule of the Health Equity & Disparities track differ from that of the traditional categorical residents?

As a Health Equity and Disparities track resident, you will be fully integrated into the residency program alongside your peers in the categorical, IM/MPH, and preliminary year tracks. Residents will fulfill all of the ACGME and ABIM requirements of IM Residents, including wards, ICU, and subspecialties. In addition, you will have an increased focus in Community Medicine, and will spend over a third of your residency time in community sites. Residents in this track will follow panels of patients longitudinally at an FQHC community site and at Kaiser Oakland and will be well-versed in the intricacies of providing medical care in various health care systems. In addition, residents in this track will have several unique community- based elective experiences tailored to your interests. Residents in the Health Equity and Disparities track who are interested in research will be paired with research mentors from the Kaiser Division of Research Health Care Disparities branch.

Is there a separate application process for the Health Equity and Disparities track?

Yes, there is a separate National Resident Matching (NRMP) code for this track: 1042140M0.

If I am interested in the Health Equity and Disparities track, do I need to apply to both the categorical internal medicine residency and to the Health Equity and Disparities track?

Applicants to the Health Equity & Disparities track are strongly encouraged to apply to both the Health Equity and Disparities track and the categorical internal medicine track.

Many of the opportunities available in the track are also available to categorical residents as an elective. However, categorical residents do not follow a longitudinal panel of patients at a community site and do not spend as much time in community sites as the Health Equity & Disparities track residents (who spend over a third of their training in community settings).

Who are the mentors for residents in the Health Equity & Disparities track?

In addition to mentoring by the faculty and Program Directors in the Internal Medicine Residency program all residents in the Health Equity and Disparities track will also establish additional mentors tailored to their specific research and program interests. All residents will also have as mentors Kaiser Division of Research investigators who specialize in Healthcare Disparities.

Which community sites are Kaiser Oakland partnered with?

The residency program at Kaiser Oakland has established several community partnerships, including affiliations with:
Lifelong Medical, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FHRQ)
LaClinica de la Raza
Native American Health Center
Asian Health Services
Oasis Clinic, specializing in the care of individuals with Hepatitis C, HIV, and Addiction Medicine
San Quentin prison: Experience in the medical care of incarcerated people
The Order of Malta Clinic
Tri-City Health Center

Medical Student Rotation – Diversity Scholarships

To promote our Medical Center’s mission to enhance diversity and to help to defray the costs of housing, airfare, and other expenses, Kaiser Oakland is offering scholarships of up to $2000 to senior medical students wishing to pursue fourth year rotations in internal medicine at our medical campus. Recipients will be selected based on their record of promoting diversity and inclusion. More information can be found on our medical student rotation page or applications can contact our Student Programs Coordinator, Lyn Espinosa for more information and for the brief application at:

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