Heyman Oo, MD, MPH
Heyman Oo, MD, MPH is a primary care pediatrician in Marin County and an Associate Physician and Clinical Instructor for the General Pediatrics Department at Zuckerberg San Francisco General and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. She earned her BA in Psychology and Neuroscience from Yale University, Doctorate in Medicine from University of California San Diego and Masters in Public Health from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Healthcare Policy and Administration. She completed her residency in the PLUS (Pediatric Leadership Advancing Health Equity) Residency Program at UCSF which is designed to “develop a foundation in leadership, communication, scholarship and advocacy skills” while simultaneously learning clinical medicine. She was inducted into the Gold Humanism Honors Society as a medical student and has continued to earn local and national awards for her leadership and advocacy, including the Ann E. Dyson Award for Advocacy from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Grossman Award for Community Leadership and the UCSF Chancellor's Award for Public Service for her work with recently immigrated youth and development of trauma informed mental health programs in the school setting. She is currently the Pediatric Champion at Marin Community Clinics for a pilot project with the Center for Youth Wellness screening for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in a pediatric primary care setting and leading a trauma-informed care initiative through the resilient Beginnings Collaborative from the Center for Care Innovations. Additionally, she serves as Co-Chair for the AAP Chapter 1 Advocacy Committee, is an Executive Board Member for the San Francisco Marin Medical Society and serves on the CMA Sub-committee on MediCal.
Why are you a SFMMS member?
I became interested in physician advocacy in medical school and as I’ve gone through my residency training and my early career, it has become even more obvious how important physician voices are for advocating for our patients in the larger landscape of health and social policy. Insurance coverage and sufficient medical infrastructure for medical access is critical, but there are also so many studies have also shown that factors like nutrition, school districts, zip code, labor policies, city planning and transportation all have significant impacts on short and long term health outcomes and physicians should be at the table at those discussions too.
Which SFMMS member resource is most helpful to you?
I think the resource that is most helpful for me is regular access to a network of highly motivated and accomplished colleagues in specialties outside of Pediatrics to bounce ideas off of and learn from. I also really enjoy reading through the SFMMS magazine because the different thematic issues often will cover both local and national topics and trends in areas of medicine that I am not typically exposed to in my day-to-day clinical care or specialty.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
My husband and I love food and we’re always looking for new places to travel and eat. We basically organize our days off and vacations around the restaurants and meals we want to try.
What is the most important thing you learned in medical school or residency?
I learned the importance of cultivating cultural humility in every patient encounter is essential to achieving the desired health outcomes. Beyond understanding the disease process, I have come to appreciate the impact a patient’s background, experiences and cultural understanding will have on his or her health and it is critical for me to be humble in my own assumptions and agenda.
What are some of the biggest opportunities or challenges you see in health care within the next year, and within the next 3-5 years?
I think prior healthcare reform efforts have been good foundation for improving healthcare access for all patients, but going forward, one of the biggest challenges I see with medical advancement is how we can balance that with true health care equity especially in the era of rising healthcare costs and rapidly changing technologies and modes of practice.
What do you love most about practicing Pediatrics?
Working with children is a daily exercise in hope. I love how resilient they are. They also have a almost wise sense of brutal honesty and justice that really can hold us adults accountable and put things into perspective when we get complacent and give excuses about how busy, complicated, messy, etc. the world is.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given throughout your career so far?
You should lean into situations that make you uncomfortable because that is where you will learn the most and achieve the most growth.
Who’s your favorite music artist/band?
I really like instrumental covers of pop music like The Piano Guys and Vitamin String Quartet or more unconventional bluegrass like Ben Sollee and Kentucky Native.
What is your favorite restaurant in San Francisco?
This is such a hard question for me because as I said, I love food! If I had to choose, I would say the restaurant that has the most meaning for me would be New Eritrea in the Inner Sunset not only because it’s delicious Ethiopian/Eritrean food and owned by the sweetest, most generous family, but that’s where my husband and I had our first date.
If you weren't a physician, what profession would you like to try?
I'd love to open a restaurant or food truck.