Students Aim to Improve Healthcare for Diverse Patient Populations, Research Barriers to Vaccination and Donate Hygiene Kits to Help Homeless Individuals

Published January 10, 2023

2020 Campus Roundup Inside OME

Touro Alum Dr. Michael Erickson Shares Harrowing Lessons Learned Treating COVID-19 Patients

Dr. Michael Erickson

The “first wave” may be behind us, but New Yorkers are steeling themselves as the coronavirus resurgence hits. When the pandemic swept through New York City in the spring, Michael Erickson, DO, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM) Harlem '15 and Chief General Surgery Resident at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, Queens, had completed a fellowship in surgical critical care/burns and was spending his time doing surgeries. St. John’s was the first hospital in the borough with a positive COVID-19 patient, and was hit hard. Everyone had to adapt, and Dr. Erickson’s duties shifted overnight to caring for coronavirus patients in a sealed COVID-19 ICU. Now the 2014 "National Student DO of the Year” is back in the OR, reflecting on the experience and lessons learned as infections rise again.

Photo: Dr. Michael Erickson at work at St. John's Episcopal Hospital

PCOM Georgia Teaching Continues through Tele-Simulation

PCOM Georgia virtual class
Students consider vital signs, lab work and imaging when making a diagnosis under the guidance of Jeff Trawick, DO, ACOEP, ACOFP, a clinical assistant professor.

Web and video technologies allow PCOM Georgia students to collaboratively diagnose simulated patients during virtual case studies. According to Jeff Trawick, DO, ACOEP, ACOFP, a clinical assistant professor in the Office of Clinical Education who also practices full time as an emergency department physician, “Technology and the hard work of the Clinical Education and Simulation Center teams have enabled us to provide virtual clinical problems with the same elements contained in on-campus simulation exercises. The only missing component is the students’ ability to actually touch and examine the patient.” Learn more about this transformative medical curriculum.

CHSU-COM Medical Student Hopes to Connect the Hmong Community to Osteopathic Medicine

Jonathan Wongsavanh
First-year CHSU-COM medical student Jonathan Wongsavanh believes that osteopathic medicine can help bridge the gap between the Hmong community and physicians.

First-year medical student Jonathan Wongsavanh has always known he wanted to become a doctor. His parents and grandparents came to America as refugees from Laos. Jonathan has experienced firsthand some of the difficulties in helping his grandparents receive optimal healthcare due to the language barrier and lack of cultural understanding by some physicians they had seen. The DO approach to viewing the body as a whole unit that can self-heal and self-regulate if a physician facilitates the healing of the mind, body and spirit appealed to him because it closely mirrors the values of the Hmong culture. Learn more about Jonathan’s goal of becoming a DO serving minority and underserved populations.

PCOM Receives INSIGHT Into Diversity 2020 HEED Award

Marcine Pickron-Davis, PhD

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) recently received the 2020 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. This national honor recognizes US colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. “At PCOM, we are continuously focused on expanding our diversity and inclusion efforts,” said Marcine Pickron-Davis, PhD, chief diversity and community relations officer (pictured). “If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we must be intentional about working towards racial equality. The PCOM community remains committed to making these positive changes and we are honored to be recognized for our ongoing efforts.” This is the sixth year PCOM has been named as a Health Professions HEED Award recipient.

TouroCOM Student Receives 2020 AOF Burnett Osteopathic Student Researcher Award

Atif TowheedTouroCOM Middletown student Atif Towheed, PhD, OMS-III, (pictured) received the 2020 AOF Burnett Osteopathic Student Researcher Award from the American Osteopathic Foundation. The monetary award is for Towheed and his colleagues’ research on the views, perspectives and practices of healthcare professionals towards vaccination. He and his team conducted an online survey and respondents provided their thoughts on barriers to vaccination. The study was initiated in summer 2019 after a noted outbreak of measles in and around the community and is of increasing relevance as COVID-19 vaccinations become approved. Learn more about this important and timely project.

He Beat COVID-19—Can Rural Healthcare?

John Gibson, MDIt started on Sunday night, October 25. John Gibson, MD, (pictured)Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM)’s assistant dean of rural medical education, had been battling typical fall allergies, but then he lost his senses of smell and taste. He knew something was wrong. Dr. Gibson tested positive for COVID-19 days later along with his entire household, including his 64-year old wife and 91-year old mother-in-law. At 65 himself, Dr. Gibson is in the high-risk category, but his symptoms never rose to the level of concern. The COVID-19 pandemic has walloped the healthcare system, but perhaps the most affected are rural healthcare communities. TCOM’s nationally recognized ROME program, that Dr. Gibson heads, has been training students to practice healthcare in rural communities after graduation and residency, and that landscape may be changed forever. Learn more about the serious impact COVID-19 is having on rural healthcare and why rural health funding is so crucial.

WVSOM Student Said $20,000 Scholarship Will Help Him Become Emergency Physician

Matthew St. JeanFor one student at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM), the financial hurdles that complicate the path to becoming a physician got a little easier to navigate this year. Class of 2022 student Matthew St. Jean (pictured) was one of only four 2020 recipients nationwide of a $20,000 Bridging the Dream Scholarship for Graduate Students from the consumer lending company Sallie Mae. The scholarship is awarded to students who excel academically, demonstrate leadership and participation in school and community activities and creatively describe their journey to, and goals for, graduate school. “One of the biggest stresses of medical school is that not only are you worrying about studying and passing tests, but you’re also worrying about how much money you can spend each day and how much you’ll have left at the end of the semester to bridge the gap until the next financial aid funds are dispersed,” he said. “A $20,000 scholarship will allow me to get out from underneath that burden earlier and pay off my loans quicker.” Learn more about Matthew’s impressive achievement.

AZCOM Student Receives Inaugural MWU Diversity Scholarship

Dajamen MitchellDajamen Mitchell, a first-year student at the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine of Midwestern University (AZCOM), is one of four recipients of the new Midwestern University Diversity Scholarship, which provides need-based scholarships for qualified students. Mr. Mitchell has a long history of supporting and launching campus organizations that address diversity and healthcare disparities. As an undergraduate student, he was active in his school’s NAACP chapter, and as a graduate student at Midwestern University, he was a founding member of the Black Student Alliance on the Downers Grove Campus and served as the organization’s president. Now, as a first-year medical school student on the Glendale Campus, he has helped to establish a chapter of the Student National Medical Association, an organization dedicated to increasing minority representation in medicine and creating socially competent physicians. “Receiving this scholarship not only helps me on my journey to complete medical school, but it is a message that diversifying the medical field is important, and there is help for people like me to pursue their dreams,” he stated. “It is also comforting to know that Midwestern University is committed to aiding minority students in any way possible to accomplish our goals.” Learn more about Dajamen and the other scholarship recipients.

2020 DMU Research Symposium Attracts Hundreds—Virtually

Screenshot of DMU Research Symposium
The DMU Research Symposium featured a keynote by S. Vincent Grasso, DO, MSIS, MBA, a surgeon, medical informaticist and the global practice lead for healthcare and life sciences with IPsoft, the global leader in enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) and the world’s largest privately owned AI company.

Want to know more about the effects of force and velocity in skeletal trauma? Whether celery seed is a “super vegetable” in inhibiting the growth of melanoma cells? How about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on sexual assault reporting? Insights on these topics and so many more were offered during Des Moines University’s 2020 Research Symposium on December 3. Despite being held virtually due to the pandemic, the symposium offered a rich and diverse menu of poster and oral presentations, an expert keynote speaker and stimulating conversations among students and scientists. The event was attended by 416 individuals. All sessions can be viewed online.

Berko, Novotny Named KPCOM Student DOs of the Year

Joshua BerkoChristina-Novotny

Third-year student Joshua Berko (far left) (Fort Lauderdale/Davie) and second-year student Kristina Novotny (left) (Tampa Bay) were selected as the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine (KPCOM)’s Student DOs of the Year by their peers at their respective campuses. Because of their wins, both Berko and Novotny had their award application submitted to the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents (COSGP)’s National Student DO of the Year competition. COSGP is the official national leadership council of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and is the only organization that represents all osteopathic medical students. Learn more about their recognition.

RVU Hosts Psychology Essay Contest

Rocky Vista University (RVU)’s mental health and wellness counselors hosted a psychology essay contest that prompted students to write about the relationship between mental health and physical health, and how they, as future health professionals, would address this connection to treat their patients. Winners of the contest, Jasmine Hohl, PAS-II, for “The Mind-Body Connection,” Miryam Ha, OMS-II, for “Traumas of the Mind,” and Dellvin Nguonly, OMS-II, for “The Fight Against Systemic Inequalities," were announced through social media in late November, and the essays can be found on the RVU blog. Read the winning essay.

ACOM Emergency Medicine Interest Group Donates Hygiene Kits to Dothan Hospital

ACOM Students with donations pose outside of the ER entrance
The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) Emergency Medicine Interest Group recently assembled and donated 200 hygiene kits to the emergency department at Dothan hospital Southeast Health for the homeless population and the underserved. Each donated kit included a bottle of water, snack bars, toothbrush and toothpaste, body wipes, lip balm, deodorant, lotion, tissues, hand sanitizer and socks. Learn more about how ACOM students are engaging in community service in non-traditional, creative and socially distant ways.

UNE COM Hosts White Coat Distribution Drive-Thru for First-Year Students

UNE COM administrator helps pass out white coats to first-year UNE COM students
Jane Carreiro, DO, Vice President for Health Affairs & Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, helps pass out white coats to first-year UNE COM students.

In observance of COVID-19 safety precautions, the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNE COM) hosted a white coat distribution drive-thru celebration for first-year students. After their final exams, students drove to campus where they were prompted to tune into their white coat radio station. As they drove up, pre-recorded tracks announced their names and amplified the applause of faculty and professional staff who cheered from the sidelines. It was a small way the community could come together to celebrate UNE COM’s first-year students who completed their first semester. Learn more about the white coat drive-thru ceremony.