New Leadership at the Helm of the OEM Program - Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety Education and Research Center

New Leadership at the Helm of the OEM Program


Dr. Beth Baker and Dr. Zeke McKinney: Partners in Leading OEM

With a more than 40-year history, the MCOHS Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM) residency training program is one of the oldest OEM programs in the country.  It combines expertise within the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health (Division of Environmental Health Sciences) and HealthPartners’ Institute for Education and Research to produce physicians who will improve the health and safety of workers and who will be future leaders in the field.

The OEM program integrates individual patient care, improving workplace health, population health management, and research activities. Our residency is proud to provide very strong clinical training in OEM, with currently four primary OEM clinics around the Twin Cities where our residents rotate and work with different occupational populations, in addition to different demographic populations based on geography and various social factors.

MCOHS is excited and proud to announce the appointment of new leadership of the OEM program:


Beth BakerBeth Baker, MD, MPH, FACMT, FACOEM

Academic Program Director

Dr. Baker’s role includes helping OEM residents complete their MPH projects and directing the OEM course. She had previously served as OEM residency director and staff physician at HealthPartners. She has lectured at the University of Minnesota OEM course since 2006.

Dr. Baker learned the value of interdisciplinary approaches to address workplace issues after working in OEM clinical practice and serving as consultant for such organizations as State Fund Mutual, Minnesota Poison Control System, Minnesota Department of Health, 3M, Alliant Techsystems, Institute of Health Care Policy, Hennepin County Medical Center and Chief Medical Officer at Canadian Pacific. Currently, she is chair of the Examination Committee and a Director of the American Board of Preventive Medicine. She previously served as President of American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), Chair of the Medical Services Review Board for the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, Chair of the Preventive Medicine Residency Review Committee for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and was on the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA). She has been named as a top doctor four times in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine.

Dr. Baker’s research and 30 publications have focused on OEM education and the health effects of toxic exposures. She is an editor for the book: Occupational Health for Higher Education and Research Institutions and has written multiple textbook chapters. She is looking forward to collaborating with the multiple disciplines at the MCOHS.


Zeke McKinneyZeke McKinney, MD, MHI, MPH, FACOEM

Residency Program Director

Dr. McKinney manages the majority of OEM residents training during the HealthPartners OEM residency. He is the current President of Advocates for Better Health (formerly known as Twin Cities Medical Society) and is the immediate Past President of the Central States Occupational and Environmental Medicine Association (CSOEMA).

Dr. McKinney has expanded the OEM residency research activities and has numerous research grants, most notably of which includes work on a COVID-19 vaccine trial, for which the HealthPartners Institute is a site. Because of this COVID-19 vaccine trial work and being a Black male physician from the local area, Dr. McKinney spent much of the COVID-19 global pandemic working on providing good health communication and combating disinformation through partnering with community leaders to encourage public health protections for the pandemic; these efforts led to the development of a year-long community-based vaccine clinic at his barbershop in a primarily Black community, in addition to him and his barber being featured in public health advertising for COVID-19 vaccines for the Minnesota Department of Health.

Through his health communication work, Dr. McKinney has become one of the most prolific OEM physicians on social media in the United States. He has otherwise published and is working on multiple studies on occupational health disparities, firefighter health and safety issues, vaccine hesitancy and other topics. His clinical focus is on environmental – occupational or not – toxicologic exposures to dusts, chemicals, molds, or infectious agents, often leading to chronic and complex illnesses, for which his clinic is one of the small number with this unique focus in the United States.

Dr. Baker and Dr. McKinney shared their mutual goals for taking the OEM program into the future…

We aim to continue to increase our research output and addressing both environmental and workplace health issues. In general, our hope is that our residents can pursue their passions during their time in our residency, and can grow into thought leaders spanning the broad areas that our specialty covers. For example, a prior graduate and prior faculty, Dr. Andre Montoya-Barthelemy, studied the occupational hazards of incarcerated workers, who are not covered by the same labor protections as other workers in the United States, and consequently have significant occupational hazards; although this topic has been studied somewhat in the social sciences, his work was the first time this issue was addressed from a medical perspective.

Our residency has a research focus on occupational health disparities, acknowledging that social determinants of health have a greater impact on health outcomes than our ability to provide clinical care. In addition, we also acknowledge that we as clinicians have power and privilege that we must leverage to help patients in difficult situations return to their optimal function, both at home and at work. In light of recent issues of systemic racism in the United States that have centered in Minneapolis, particularly in the domain of law enforcement violence, several of our faculty in addition to other community physicians collaborated to publish an article discussing the intersections of these issues with clinical care in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.