Document Type



Oregon Health & Science University


Susan Tolle is a graduate of Lewis & Clark College and OHSU, and completed residencies at UCSD. She has a love of rural medicine and was drawn to internal medicine out of an interest in treating the whole person and nurturing lasting relationships with patients. She is an advocate for compassionate communication. She taught medicine in the dental school and published numerous articles on dentistry and ethics with Gary Chiodo, and projects on ‘end-of-life’ care with John Benson. Seven years into her tenure at OHSU, Tolle won a Pew Kaiser Mid-Career Award and completed a one-year fellowship in clinical medical ethics at the University of Chicago.

Tolle was instrumental in starting the Center for Ethics at OHSU, which brought ideals of ethics into medical education and helped to advance and change systems at OHSU and state-wide. She also developed the Oregon POLST program, which has now grown to the national level. This interview discusses end-of-life care, communication, interactions between staff and patients and their families, ethics in healthcare and medical education, rural healthcare, women in medicine, fund raising and development, and Physician Orders for Life-Saving Treatment (POLST) programs.


Transcript of oral history interview with Susan Tolle, M.D., conducted on February 24, 2017 by Lesley Hallick, Ph.D..


OHSU Oral History Project




School of Medicine


CC BY 4.0 (

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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