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Dr. Natasha Bray, dean of the OSU College of Medicine at the Cherokee Nation, stand in front of the donor wall on the campus in Tahlequah.
Dr. Natasha Bray, dean of the OSU College of Medicine at the Cherokee Nation, has been named ACOI's Internist of the Year and AOF's Educator of the Year.

OSU-COM at Cherokee Nation dean recognized with two national awards

Friday, October 28, 2022

Media Contact: Sara Plummer | Communications Coordinator | 918-561-1282 |

This fall, Dr. Natasha Bray, dean of the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation, is being honored with two prestigious national awards — one highlighting her work as a physician and the other for her work in medical education.

Bray was named Internist of the Year by the American College of Osteopathic Internists and as Educator of the Year by the American Osteopathic Foundation.

Bray was nominated for Internist of the Year by Dr. Karen Nichols, a former president of ACOI and the American Osteopathic Association who mentored Bray when she was a medical student serving as a student representative on the AOA Board.

The Internist of Year award recognizes those who understand the importance of their role as a physician.

“We have a responsibility to care for the patients in our office, but also, how do we care for society and improve health on a larger scale,” Bray said. “We have systems that make it easy to make bad health choices. How do we make it easier for them to make good health choices.”

Bray said one of her goals is to make sure communities are getting the health care and help they need.

“This honor is recognition that it’s not just physician-patient relationships that are important, but also physician-community relationships,” she said.

For AOF’s Educator of the Year award, Bray was nominated by students at OSU-COM at the Cherokee Nation.

“You want to make a difference in the lives of students. There are so many outstanding educators — not just at OSU but across the country. To be recognized as Educator of the Year is extremely humbling,” she said. “Education is an opportunity to amplify our voice. At OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, and particularly here at our Cherokee Nation campus, we choose to use that voice to educate students who will go into rural and underserved communities that need access to care.”

One aspect of health care that is becoming a more important factor for physicians and medical students in training is the culture and background of their patients, Bray said. 

“Those cultural backgrounds affect how our graduates will care for patients as a doctor,” she said. “How I define health and how you define health may be very different. Learning how your patient defines health and what’s important to living their life is an important step in caring for your patient.”

That mindset is one reason Bray is being honored both as a physician and as an educator, but she knows she didn’t achieve these accomplishments alone. 

“Anytime someone receives recognition, it’s not just honoring that individual. We work in a system where there are hundreds of faculty, staff and students who are doing their absolute best. No one is succeeding in a vacuum,” she said. “It’s an environment that promotes progress and allows people to pursue their passions. OSU allows us to do our best, and it pulls the best out of us.”

Bray was presented the Internist of the Year award in Baltimore on Oct. 21 and the Educator of the Year Award is being presented to her on Oct. 28 in Boston. 

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