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Class Notes

Community Hero

Jane Oski weaves traditional and western practices in serving the Navajo Nation.

Surrounded by the wind-swept desert and flat-topped mesas of northeast Arizona, the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation (TCRHCC) blends modern medicine with the ministrations of traditional Native American healers.

A 73-bed acute and outpatient regional health system, it provides primary care services to more than 33,000 Navajos and Hopis. In addition, it serves as a regional referral medical center for more than 75,000 residents across the Navajo Nation—the country’s largest Native American reservation—and its adjacent communities.

It also is where Jane Oski ’91 (BSPH '09) has been practicing general pediatrics and fostering public health initiatives since 1994. As director of TCRHCC’s adolescent health program, Oski’s exceptional, innovative efforts and dedicated advocacy on behalf of Native American children has earned her the Community Hero Award from the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association.

The daughter of Frank Oski (1932–96), the much-beloved director of Johns Hopkins’ pediatrics department from 1985 to 1995, Jane Oski says both of her parents stressed “the importance of civic engagement.” A five-year stint as an investigative journalist prompted her interest in public health issues, leading to her decision to go to medical school in her late 20s. She ultimately chose pediatrics because of its focus on public health—and the fact that she “grew up around pediatricians” and was influenced by “their group advocacy for children.”

Physicians who work on Native American reservations must learn the cultural beliefs of their patients and collaborate with traditional medicine men and women, Oski says. “In my 24 years practicing pediatrics on the Navajo and Hopi lands, I have come to more fully appreciate the wisdom of the natural healers and the necessity of weaving traditional and western practices as often as necessary,” she says.

Among Oski’s pediatric colleagues at TCRHCC is her husband, Steven Moul, an alumnus of the University of Nebraska’s medical school.

“I like to say that I met my husband because Mathuram Santosham, Frank Oski and Catherine DeAngelis had the good sense to establish a community pediatrics rotation in Tuba City for Hopkins pediatric residents in 1991,” she says. “I spent a month in Tuba City in June 1993. It truly changed my life: I discovered a passion for community pediatrics, discovered the beauty and pain of the Navajo, and met the man who would become my husband.” 

Community Hero