In many ways it makes perfect sense that Dr. Tervalon was born and raised in Philadelphia the city of brotherly love and host to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Her independent streak is legendary as is her commitment to social justice and equity. While she embraces the goal of health and wellness for all people, she is ever vigilant in challenging systems and practices that neglect, disregard or discard the underserved and less fortunate among us.
Themes in a medical school commencement speech* she gave over 30 years ago indicated that she would forge new ground in her profession. In this critique of her medical school, it wasn’t necessarily the science or the medicine she was taking on, but in the application or withdrawal thereof, she observed that doctors often made erroneous and prejudicial assumptions about patients they marginalized.
As a practicing Pediatrician at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, CA, she founded the Multicultural Curriculum Program. “Cultural humility” was the moniker that described her efforts to train doctors to set aside the pre-conceived notions about patients that substituted for their own lack of knowledge about the diverse and culturally complex communities they served. For more than two decades since the inception of this program, Dr. Tervalon has demonstrated in myriad ways how cultural humility can make the difference between sickness and health in the treatment of individuals and/or communities.
In her current role as a consultant, Dr. Tervalon crafts strategic plans for program and funding initiatives, provides expert knowledge in the field of culture, race, ethnicity and identity in health and health services, guides leaders or teams from ideas to implementation while modeling participatory processes, synthesizing large amounts of often disparate information for use in organizational planning or redirection, facilitates meetings for large and small groups, and provides individual coaching.
Dr. Tervalon received her MD from the University of California , San Francisco and a MPH and BS from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a highly acclaimed public speaker.