V O L U M E 1 , I S S U E 4 J A U R A R Y , 2 0 1 1
SOMA President’s Message
Primary Care Organizations Consortium (PCOC) Meeting Report
SPECIAL POINT S The Primary Care Organizations Consortium (PCOC) is “a unique federation of primary care organizations”
OF INTEREST: with a vision “to serve as a vehicle to advance primary care”. This meeting included attendees from organi-
zations ranging from both the Osteopathic and Allopathic organizations of medical colleges, several internal
President’s Message: medicine, family practice, pediatric and OBGYN specialty organizations, representatives from allied health
profession organizations (nurse practitioners and physician assistants), the Agency for Healthcare Research
PCOC Report and Quality (AHRQ), the Bureau of Health Professions of the National Health Resources and Services Ad-
ministration (BHPR/HRSA), the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), and Us (SOMA!) Here
GL Advisor Report— are a few highlights from the meeting:
Student Loan Repay-
ments Patient Centered Medical Home
The Department of Veterans Affairs is currently a leader in the PCMH model. Please visit their website
SOMA Insurance for for an overview of their concept of the PCMH: http://www1.va.gov/PrimaryCare/pcmh/ .
The Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA) is currently soliciting proposals to establish VA Centers of
medical students and
Excellence in Primary Care Education that will serve to foster the transformation of residency pro-
graduates grams into more of a PCMH – modeled system. Up to 6 centers will be implemented in fiscal year
2011, being funded up to a maximum of one million dollars annually for core costs. For more in-
Combank/Comquest formation, please visit http://www4.va.gov/oaa/rfp_coe.asp
Discount Codes The PCMH model is at the core of developing more patient-centered healthcare environments, and as
aspiring physicians, we should all be familiar with this concept. For more information, please re-
2010 NorthupEduca- view the articles posted to the SOMA website (www.StudentDO.com) and also visit the following
tor of the Year
Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative: http://www.pcpcc.net/content/joint-principles-
The American Academy of Family Physicians: http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/membership/
National Officer Up- American College of Physicians: http://www.acponline.org/running_practice/pcmh/
dates & Articles
AAFP response to newly released ACGME Standards on Resident Supervision, Duty Hours & Work
Chapter Highlights Environment
2010-2011 SOMA Na- ACGME: http://www.acgme.org/acwebsite/resinfo/ri_osharesp.asp
tional Officers AAFP: www.aafp.org
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) shared their response to the ACGME‟s recom-
The AAFP agreed with the overall intention and spirit of the ACGME‟s recommendations and
expressed gratitude for the time & effort put in to investigating the best way to protect our
residents and patients.
They also expressed the following concerns:
The new limitations of duty hours will decrease the overall educational time and clini-
cal experiences for FM residents over their current 36 months of training, creat-
ing the need to potentially lengthen the training to a 48 month program which
would place numerous additional burdens on residency programs and the resi-
dents they train and only further complicate the challenge of recruiting aspiring
physicians into primary care.
The limitations will specifically impair many programs‟ ability to meet the required
continuity patient care visit thresholds in the ambulatory setting, especially with
the obstetrical patients.
The limitation on duty hours is likely to promote a “shift work” approach inconsistent
with efforts to move toward a more patient-centered care model.
Removing the ability to average call night frequency limits the flexibility of resident
schedules to accommodate personal and family needs.
The 2 standards that the AAFP found most troubling were the following:
“PGY-1 residents must be supervised either directly (physically present with resident and
patient) or indirectly (physically within confines of site of care) with direct supervision
immediately available.” (CPR VI.D.5.a.1)
“Duty periods of PGY-1 residents must not exceed 16 hours in duration” (CPR VI.G.4.a)
The AAFP suggested that the ACGME develop and implement pilot studies to compare different duty hour
requirements and their effects on medical errors and patient safety guidelines. They also suggested that
the ACGME better define the parameters under which duty hours violations trigger an accreditation re-
view of the residency program, and better communicate the duty hours monitoring system with the public
so that there is a greater appreciation of the safeguards and supervision built into the system.
They further recommended that the ACGME reconsider the implementation date of the new standards in order
to allow programs time to modify schedules and curricula, recruit new staffing, and adjust their current
operations to accommodate the new standards.
This is a hot topic in the medical community at this point in time and will greatly affect each of
us as we enter residency training programs within the next several years. I encourage you to review
the current ACGME recommendations and stay active in this ongoing discussion!
Health Policy Report: Health Reform, Primary Care, and Graduate Medical Education
A recent New England Journal of Medicine article by John K. Iglehart highlights many of the current challenges
facing graduate medical education, and the struggle in determining the roles of various organizations in implement-
ing the necessary changes to the system. The article discusses the uncertainty in congress over GME policies and
their struggle to determine the proper allocation of Medicare funds to support GME programs. The article also
addresses the role of primary care in meeting the workforce demands that the expanding medical coverage will
exacerbate. As Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa (the Finance Committee‟s ranking Republican) stated, “it is easy
to see that increased health coverage is useless without a workforce to provide care”. A draft report prepared by
the Council on Graduate Medical Education emphasized the shortage of primary care physicians and recommended
that “GME policies should be designed so that the number of primary care physicians among all doctors would
increase from the current estimate of 32% to at least 40%.” Recent data shows that only 16-18% of all medical
students obtaining positions through the National Residency Matching Program in 2010 are likely to enter primary
care specialties. These numbers will have to change in order to meet the growing demand for primary care ser-
The major debate at this point is where the financial support of expanding GME programs should come from.
Medicare currently provides the most money at $9.5 billion distributed to teaching hospitals in 2009. New pro-
grams are being developed to help share this financial burden, such as the Department of Health and Human Ser-
vices program to award grants to “teaching health centers” (described below). There has also been some heated
debate over the past several years about whether teaching hospitals are overpaid. The Medicare Payment Advisory
Commission (MedPAC) and the administration of President George W. Bush agreed that this was indeed the case
and supported a reduction of Medicare‟s indirect medical education adjustment as a way to offset the cost of
healthcare reform. For the past 3 consecutive years, MedPAC has recommended this reduction in payment to
teaching hospitals, asserting that the payments are “set at more than twice what can be empirically justified, direct-
ing more than $3 billion in extra payments to teaching hospitals…without any restrictions on how they are used.”
The MedPAC advocates the reallocation of these funds to a “pay-for-performance” program that would require
hospitals to meet certain standards in practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal communication
skills, professionalism, and system-based practice.
There is, of course, argument from the opposition that many hospitals operating on “very slim margins, or in the
red” would be unable to continue to operate and provide the same level of services if they were to lose any portion
of their current GME funding. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has begun
instituting outcome-based standards for some of the aforementioned skills and competencies, but “progress on
them has been slow…The commission recommends that Medicare institute financial incentives to accelerate these
efforts”. At the heart of this issue is the question of “how to define useful and non-useful variations in clinical
practice patterns”. Congress has directed the Institute of Medicine to study how teaching institutions can restruc-
ture in order to meet these objectives.
VOLUME 1, ISSUE 4 PAGE 3
Teaching Health Centers
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148, Section 5508) established a grant program to support Teaching Health
Centers (THC), specifically aimed at increasing teaching capacity. The new law does the following:
Authorizes HHS to award development grants to THC‟s for the purpose of establishing new accredited or expanded primary care
residency programs. Grants of no more than $500,000 awarded for no longer than 3 years would be offered to programs accred-
ited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the American Dental Association (ADA), or the
American Osteopathic Association (AOA).
Applications that document affiliation with an Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program are given preference for
Defines a Teaching Health Center as a community based, ambulatory patient care center that operates a primary care residency pro-
gram. The following program types qualify:
Federally qualified health center (FQHC), Community mental health center, Rural health clinic, Health center operated by
the Indian health Service or an Indian tribe, or An entity receiving funds under title X of the Public Health Service Act.
Defines a Primary Care Residency Program as an accredited graduate medical residency program in FM, IM, Pediatrics, IM-Peds,
OBGYN, Psychiatry, General Dentistry, Pediatric Dentistry, and Geriatrics.
Requires the Secretary to make payments for direct & indirect expenses to qualified THC‟s for expansion or establishment of ap-
proved graduate medical residency training programs. ($230 million is available for these payments for the period of FY 2011
Updates from the American Academy of Pediatrics Department of Federal Affairs
At the 6-mo. anniversary of President Obama‟s signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, several child health
provisions within the law now take effect. Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, this law forms
the health reform package known as the Affordable Care Act.
Grandfathered health plans = existing health insurance plans already on the market when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law.
Such plans are exempt from several provisions in the act, as long as they have not made any significant changes, such as significantly
raising premiums or cutting benefit categories.
Rescission: Retroactive cancellation of an individual‟s policy when that individual becomes sick.
Sept. 23rd, 2010: Bright Futures Preventive Services
One regulation included in the act requires all health plans to cover, with no cost-sharing for the families, all preventive
services for children recommended in Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children and Ado-
lescents, 3rd Edition.
Sept. 23 , 2010: Patient’s Bill of Rights
Children under age 19 with pre-existing medical conditions will be guaranteed coverage if they are enrolled in any non-
grandfathered insurance plan, or in a grandfathered group insurance plan. These protections will be extended to all
individuals in 2014.
A ban of lifetime limits on coverage for “essential health benefits” will apply to all private insurance plans in the group and
Restrictions on annual limits will apply to all non-grandfathered individual market insurance plans and all existing group
plans, even if they are grandfathered. Beginning Jan. 1 st, 2014, all annual limits on coverage of essential benefits will
be banned. Until then, annual limits will be phased out as follows:
Cannot be lower than $750,000 beginning Sept. 23rd, 2010
Cannot be lower than $1.25 million beginning Sept. 23rd, 2011
Cannot be lower than $2 million beginning Sept. 23rd, 2012 until Jan. 1, 2014
Crystal Lenz, OMS IV
SOMA National President 2010-2011
Stephanie L. Marcy, OMS III
SOMA Public Relations Director 2010-2011
A Strategic Approach to Managing Medical School Debt
What Every Medical School Student Must Know
I had the unique opportunity to interview the GL Advisors at the Fall 2010 SOMA National Conven-
tion and found out a lot of helpful information about loan repayment options most students are un-
aware of. The following is important information that every student should be aware of.
With the cost of higher education increasing, student loan debt for medical students has more than
tripled over the last 15 years with the national average surpassing $165,000 in 2009*. The combi-
nation of high debt levels and relatively low salaries during residency puts many medical school
graduates in a difficult position. Therefore, it is important for all students and recent graduates
to understand their student loan repayment options and make the best decisions regarding
debt. Your financial aid office is a great place to start and we hope the following information will
also serve as a valuable resource for you.
Many medical residents rely upon forbearance to postpone payments during residency and forgo
thousands of dollars of potential savings. Fortunately, the government created programs that pro-
vide medical school graduates with the opportunity to improve their liquidity and lower the cost of
their student loan debt. Income-Based Repayment (IBR) and Public Service Loan Forgiveness
(PSLF) are two programs that have the potential to save borrowers thousands.
IBR: Limits monthly loan payments to 15% of a borrower’s discretionary income, and for up to
three years after repayment begins, the government will pay the outstanding subsidized interest.
The subsidy can result in thousands of dollars in savings and enrolling in IBR is necessary to take
full advantage of the forgiveness program described in this article.
PSLF: Provides tax-free loan forgiveness to borrowers after making 120 qualifying payments while
working for an eligible employer such as a non-profit health system, hospital or university. Unlike
other forgiveness programs, there are no limitations regarding geography, type of medicine prac-
ticed, or type of patients treated. Most residents are eligible and based on recent employment
trends a growing number of physicians will be employed by an eligible entity.
Unfortunately, many student loan borrowers are not aware of the benefits of these programs or do
not fully understand the qualification requirements, and thus, are missing out on the opportunity to
save thousands of dollars. In order to educate borrowers on these programs and other repayment
strategies, GL Advisor provides SOMA members and other health professionals student debt as-
sessments and hosts financial seminars at schools, hospitals and chapter meetings outlining the
value of these programs for medical school graduates.
An online presentation describing the benefits of these government programs in more detail is
available on GL Advisor’s website or at the following URL: www.gladvisor.com/
All SOMA members receive a FREE personalized assessment that outlines your student loan
history and highlights savings opportunities resulting from government programs and other repay-
ment strategies. Member benefits also include individual consultations in which the GL Advisors
review your assessment and answer any questions you have. You can sign up at
About GL Advisor
GL Advisor is a unique service designed to help medical students and residents manage their stu-
dent debt burden and other financial matters. GL Advisors work on their clients’ behalf to help them
lower the cost of debt, obtain payment relief as needed, and save time so they can focus on their
career in medicine. Our service also spans beyond student loan debt and provides clients with
comprehensive financial planning, tax preparation services and professional investment advice.**
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about these programs or other GL Adviors
services, please contact them at 877-552-9907 or clientservices@glAdvisor.com.
* Based on data collected by AAMC, AMA and GL internal student database. **Investment ser-
vices are provided by Graduate Leverage Investment Advisory Services, LLC.
GL Advisor is a division of Graduate Leverage, LLC. GL Advisor does not offer all services to resi-
dents of Nevada, New Hampshire, Idaho, and North Dakota at this time.
A special thanks goes out to the GL Advisors for participating in this interview and for giv-
ing SOMA students an opportunity to achieve amazing savings through the services you
An extended version of this article and interview will be sent
out in a separate
2011 SOMA Newsletter Special Edition
for 3rd and 4th year medical students.
This information is to help all who are preparing for gradua-
tion and the dreaded repayment schedule for our medical
If you would like a copy of the extended version, please
contact me at email@example.com.
Insurance Options for SOMA Medical School Graduates
With graduation approaching, participation in most school health insurance programs
may terminate before eligibility in a residency health plan is available (July 1, 2011), or a
residency health plan may have a waiting period (up to 3 months) before becoming eligi-
ble for the residency health insurance plan.
The SOMA health insurance plan can be used as a bridge for the current SOMA insured
to continue health insurance coverage until they may become eligible for the residency
health insurance plan. Those SOMA members covered under a school health plan that
terminates at graduation can apply for the SOMA plan which will provide insurance cov-
erage until eligibility is available under a residency health insurance plan.
A second plan to consider is the SOMA group term life insurance plan which offers an af-
fordable way to help cover financial responsibilities to be paid in the event of an untimely
death from an accident or sickness. Benefits from $50,000 to $250,000 are available.
Information and enrollment in the SOMA health or term life insurance plan can be ac-
cessed through the SOMA website – www.somainsurance.com.
ATTENTION SOMA MEMBERS
Dr. Courtney from COMBANK Medical talked with
SOMA at the Fall Exhibitor Fair in San Francisco and
wants to show his support by offering discounts for
ALL SOMA members!
15% OFF COMBANK STEP 1, 2, AND 3
Combank and Comquest discount codes are as
If you have any questions about accessing this discount or other subscription in-
formation, please feel free to contact Ken Uram, VP of operations, at
Hope you all take advantage of this!
2010 Northup Teacher of the Year
Zuhra Musherraf, D.O.
Zuhra Musherraf, D.O. was the recipient of the 2010 Northup Edu-
cator of the Year award at the 2010 SOMA Fall Convention in San
Francisco, CA held in October.
She previously served as an assistant professor at Western Univer-
sity of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pa-
cific, where her students nominated her for this prestigious award.
Dr. Musherraf earned her bachelor‟s degree from Chapman Uni-
versity and her D.O. Degree from Western University of Health
Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. She has
received a host of other awards throughout her career, has been
very involved in women‟s health initiatives, and has contributed to
research through the following publications:
Food Microbiology, “Elimination of Listeria monocytogenes and
changes in physical and sensory qualities of a prepared meal fol-
lowing gamma irradiation.”
The Female Patient, “Between A Rock and A Hard Place‐ The
The Forum: A Working Group for Women‟s Healthcare, “Practical Tips for Placement of Intrauterine Contra-
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, “Intermediate‐term glucose tolerance in women with a his-
tory of gestational diabetes: natural history and potential associations with breastfeeding and contraception.”
Osteopathic Family Physician, “Evaluating the Consistencies in Anthropomorphic Measurements in Women
with a History of Gestational Diabetes.”
One of the most fascinating characteristics of Dr. Musherraf is her refined humility, selflessness and compas-
sion for putting others first. Even as she was being recognized as one of the most influential instructors in the
nation, she made it a point to emphasize that she would not be the woman nor the teacher she is today without
her husband‟s support (pictured above) or her students. She spoke freely about the importance of giving back
and the joy she has found in helping others learn and grow.
She is an incredible woman, professor and mentor to many. It was our honor and privilege to present her with
the 2010 Northup Educator of the Year award. Thank you Dr. Musherraf for all you do! You have made a
difference in this world and you will not be forgotten.
If you have an amazing teacher at your school who deserves a little recognition as well, please start
thinking about who you would like to nominate for the 2011 Northup Educator of the Year. The winner
will be voted on and announced at the Spring SOMA Convention this April. More details about how
you can get involved will be available soon. Updates will be emailed to your SOMA email account or
information can be found on our website at www.studentdo.com.
December, 2010 April 8-10, 2011
Unity Project SOMA Spring
TBA Washington, D.C.
San Francisco, CA
OCT | NOV | DEC | JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL
October 1, 2010 July, 2011
April 7, 2011
National SOMA Summer Conference
DO Day on the
Membership Date – TBA
Drive ends Chicago, IL
Has the Affordable Care Act affected you?
Dear Osteopathic Medical Student,
My name is Vi Song Tring, OMS-IV, and I would appreciate your assistance in completing this
short survey that will serve two purposes. I hope to assess how the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
has impacted your decision to enter primary or specialty medicine, and determine your level of
knowledge concerning recent health care reforms enacted by the ACA.
This survey is important because it is unclear how health care reforms will impact your decisions
when selecting your future medical career pathway. Your valuable opinions will help policy mak-
ers make the best decisions that will improve the quality of Graduate Medical Education, and
broaden quality access to health care for all Americans.
Please use the following link to complete the survey which should take less than 10 minutes:
The survey will close on Friday, March 4, 2011 at midnight. If you have any further questions re-
garding the survey, please feel free to contact me and reference the "OHPI Survey". Thank you!
Vi Song Tring
Vi Song Tring
Foundation Associate, Student Osteopathic Medical Association
Scholarships – Lessons Learned
As the academic year continues so do the scholarship deadlines and thus I have been receiving
a steady flow of applications from dedicated, sleep deprived, and I would assume, cash strapped
medical students from all over the country. Although reading through the many, many, many es-
says that pop into my Inbox has racked up a sizeable Starbuck bill, I have had an incredible time
reading about the personal accomplishments, struggles, travels, and insights of countless aspiring
physicians. Each essay strives to convey the lessons learned by the student author during their
academic career. Not only are those lessons something that both students and practicing physi-
cians can learn from but you also see how those lessons are shaping their perspectives in all areas
of medicine including community outreach, patient relationships, and osteopathic principles.
This year‟s Humanism in Medicine Scholarship winning essay by Christa Morgan, OMS IV,
Oklahoma State Osteopathic Medical School, exemplifies one of these lessons and one that I
would like to share. The scholarship honors the benevolent character of the members in our osteo-
pathic family who perished on October 19th, 2004 while flying to Kirksville, Missouri to explore
ways of improving and developing a “Compassionate Campus” there at KCOM. One of the essay
topics that applicants were asked to respond to was how they would mentor colleagues who had
fallen into the routine of seeing as many patients as possible in a short period of time and “just
prescribing” medications. This situation is a familiar one as doctors are continually pressured to
maximize their efficiency at the cost of patient-centered care and yet again, the advice given is
also familiar. As health care professionals it is imperative for us to remember our role as a leader
and thus the example we set. The time we take to mentor patients about their health allows for a
“lasting authority and influence in their lives.” Although the medications we prescribe to treat
disease is one aspect of being an osteopathic doctor, we need that influence to develop attitudes
and lifestyles in our patients that help prevent disease. This is a very important lesson to remem-
ber and shows the insight that the future generations of osteopathic physicians carry with them.
Christa mentions in her paper that she hopes to inspire those around her to have a patient centered
practice and to me, her essay was a step in the right direction.
Associate Director of Scholarships and Grants
The Time We Spend Worrying
Kathyrn Miner, OMS IV
In college, the biggest worry on a pre-medical student‟s mind is: will I make it into medical school? Your con-
cerns, for the most part, stop there. Once you get that acceptance to medical school you sigh a deep breath of
relief with the thought that that letter means you will be a doctor and therefore your worries are over.
Then you realize that your journey has not yet begun until you witness the first medical school exam. Suddenly
the obstacles in front of you are lined up once more in various forms such as tests, deadlines, and practical ex-
ams. During the first and second year of your medical education, your biggest concerns are centered around
making the grade. This isn't to belittle the importance of these tests or the grades for which you've work so hard,
but once you get past those classes, the new challenge of the boards makes your anatomy test that you worried
so fiercely about seem silly by comparison.
As I look back at all the tests I've taken, I can say that I'm just grateful that I don't have to do it again. The time
before I took Step I of boards was a miserable period in not only my life, but for most of my friends. For a
while, the fact that we all came to medical school 'because we wanted to help people' didn't matter very much
because we didn't actually have time to see anyone as we tried to remember what part of the nephron various
drugs worked on.
If you're still in your first or second year and you're thoroughly depressed looking forward, I can tell you, it gets
better. Boards can be defeated like the super villain in a movie inevitably is and in your third year you emerge
victorious into the realm of patient care. You can bask in your new found abilities to communicate, educate, and
truly help treat people in need. Family members will ask you medical questions and you may surprise yourself
when you actually know the answer.
With this new found exhilaration though, of course, comes its own set of worries. There's trying to stay up on all
the information which you know you knew when you took your boards. The question becomes weighing how
much free time you can enjoy while working as unpaid labor and how much of that free time you need to sacri-
fice to studying so that when you get asked questions on rounds, you don't feel like the kid in the dream who
realizes he's not wearing pants as he is presenting his book report to the entire student body.. And you realize
that the studying does not stop there because there will be another set of boards at the end of your third year.
No matter how well you studied for Step I, when looking forward to Step II, the very idea of giving up all the
free time you've been indulging yourself in may be worrisome as the reality becomes clear that you need to start
hitting the books harder than ever.
The very idea of making it through all of these obstacles seems, at the very least, daunting. To the underclass-
men, my advice is not to think about it until you absolutely have to. While, I have found, it somehow all works
out, I have also realized that I have no idea how that is. Each obstacle, while seemingly insurmountable from
afar, is only terribly difficult when you get there. While that doesn't sound incredibly optimistic, I remind you
that that which is difficult is also therefore possible. The path to becoming a physician is hard, but, as you know
from the many classes who have gone before you, despite obstacles it is still passable and achievable.
As a fourth year coming down the home stretch towards Match and graduation, my worries are numerous as
well. Having finished my interviews and submitted my rank list, my future is in the hands of an algorithm that I
don't really understand. In the next few months it will tell me where I'm contractually bound to spend the next
several years of my life and I'll have to start over, again. While I look forward to graduation, the idea of starting
my life with an actual license to lose is definitely scary. I also don't relish the thought of going from being a
fourth year to an intern, which is, in my mind, on par with the word „freshmen‟.
The greatest advice I can give all of you as you look at whichever obstacle you're facing now, is to enjoy it and
adapt...don‟t fight it or you may miss something amazing. Don‟t retreat...charge at your obstacles head on.
None of the many challenges which are in front of you now or in the future are impossible. Enjoy the free food
at club meetings, whatever time you have to spend with your friends, and every victory as you come to it. Each
test that you pass (even if you didn't get the grade you really wanted) is a victory in and of itself. Even though
you have to go back on Monday for new lectures and new material, for one weekend at a time, you've done what
you set out to do. One day you too can look back at all the trials you‟ve passed and, when asked by a young
medical student, either because you repressed the memories or because you‟re in a supercilious mood, tell them
that it wasn‟t really that bad.
GOING EXTRA MILES TO SERVE
FEATURED - Vanessa Parisi, NYCOM
Vanessa is a fourth-year medical student at the New York College of Osteopathic
Medicine. She is also an Academic Medicine Scholar, participating in an addi- International Health Programs Director
tional year at NYCOM in order to explore opportunities in academia and to InternationalHealth@studentdo.com
teach in the Neuroscience and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine departments.
Her main responsibilities on campus are to the Global Health department and she is concurrently pursuing her Master of
Public Health at A.T. Still University. She is very interested in researching and writing about global issues.
A HOME AWAY FROM HOME…
Vanessa M. Parisi, OMS IV
Being a veteran of “roughing it” and traveling to many far off places where you have to pinch yourself and say “Is this for
real?”; I found it very easy to fall back into the routine of eating the same food, sleeping on the floor, and being for the lack
of a better word, “dirty”. In fact it’s a lot easier to wash your hair when it rains, not look in the mirror, and just go with the
I love Africa. I love how clean the air is, how bright the sun shines and how you
can see all the stars clearly at night.
I love how time seems to stop. Time is always what I’m fighting against, be-
cause I, like many medical students, cram twenty different things into an hour.
Abroad time slows down. It really is a beautiful thing. Getting out from under
my mosquito net, eating two or three meals, seeing a few patients and visiting
a local’s house, was a productive day. At home everything is on the clock…time
with my family and friends, time to do work, time to earn money, and time left
in this life. But in Africa, this was different. I didn’t have to worry about time so
much. I only wore a watch so I could adequately take heart rate in the clinic.
I love watching the people. I love seeing how proud they are and how faithful. How they can break
into song at any moment and anyone in the village can and will join in. I love living like them and I
don’t even mind when they laugh at me, the Obroni (“white person”), while trying to carry a bucket
of water on my head. No matter how precise I think I’m being, I’ll never get it “just right”, because
I’m not Ghanaian.
I love how peaceful everyone was and how the villagers with so little were so happy and hopeful. I
love how just sitting alone in the dark is their entertainment, chatting about who knows what and
until all hours of the night. No worries about who called, what email is waiting for you, or what pa-
perwork you have to fill out. Just enjoying the moment and time spent with each other. That’s what
this thing called life is actually all about.
I’m used to traveling alone, so even in such a large group, I had my lonely times. Everyone needs
those times though. To reflect on your life…analyze who you are and who you want to become. Consider who is truly im-
portant and why you take them for granted sometimes. You wonder why you complain so much and why you get upset
over every little thing. You find out what you want to change and why you are the “odd” one out. You ponder what makes
you different and why you could never be satisfied without doing this work for the rest of your life.
Every day, something special and different happened. Little life lessons about who I need to be and what we need to do as
people of this here world. There were three very distinct moments that stand out in my memories though. I learned a lot
about myself and they definitely are experiences that will stay with me forever. I’ll just go in order that they happened…
The first one happened while I was in Tafo at the antenatal clinic. Maternal health has become near and dear to my heart
over the last year and I was so excited to work with the mothers. They all came with their little books, eager to ask/
answer questions. Everything was going well until this woman sat next to me and I realized that she was mute. The nurse
handed me her daughter and that’s when I had my first experience with a baby with marasmus. Her frail limbs, hy-
popigmented and sparse hair, and her poor activity told me that this baby was very ill. Well, I thought she was a baby.
We tracked down a neighbor and turns out that this baby, the size of a six month old, was in fact 4 years of age. This is
when I got scared. I had to make sure that Dr. Ahmed, the attending with us saw this child. I laid her on the table and
proceeded with my exam. When I carried her into the other room, I could feel the tears coming. She told me the baby
probably suffered from cerebral palsy as well. We called the government hospital pediatric unit, but the rest is un-
known. I had to walk out and I just kept walking away from the clinic. I was heartbroken because I knew the fate of this
child and there was nothing that I could do. This is the part that crushes me.
The second was much more uplifting. I made it a point to go on call because I really wanted to deliver. I truly wanted
the feeling of delivering a child, especially because being an obstetrician gynecologist is what I plan to do with the rest
of my life. We knew it would be a while because our patient was a 19 year old first-time mother. At about 545am, the
nurse woke us up. I was ready. Equipped with my headlight and a plastic apron, I told the nurse that I really wanted to
help. After she performed an episiotomy (without the luxury of lidocaine), it was my job to deliver the baby. The medi-
cal assistant nun turned to me and said, “Ok. You deliver.” I was so nervous and I admit that I stalled a second. I had
seen countless deliveries but this was my time. With a little help from the nun and some coaching from Dr. Ahmed, I
delivered the baby and then the placenta. He cried right away and after cleaning up, I went to the nursery to visit him.
Of course I had to get a picture. I was in my moment.
The third was perhaps the most special and exciting for me. One of my fellow Aca-
demic Medicine Scholars, Anna, and I went to wash our hair, making our way down
the very familiar path to the well. Janice was there, a woman who had repeatedly
helped us with washing clothes and carrying water. While I was returning the favor
by pumping water to fill her large basin, she helped Anna rinse her hair. She was so
sweet. The children gathered around, as they always had when the Obroni’s showed
up to wash their hair. This time they asked for some shampoo. I put a small amount in
one of the girl’s hand and she put it in her hair. Then all of the kids bombarded me,
taking off their shirts so they could wash it with my sweet smelling Garnier Fructis
shampoo. They all started washing their hair and cheering. We were trying to tell
them via hand signals, etc that they needed to rinse! The kids were so thankful, cheer-
ing and begging for just a drop of shampoo. Shampoo! The stuff that I use in excess
daily. The stuff that I don’t even think about. The stuff I take for granted. The concept
was so hard to grasp. Half of the bottle remained so I handed it over to Janice. The entire crowd cheered, “Medase!
Medase! Thank you! Thank you!” I have never felt such appreciation for such a little act. It was beautiful. Anna and I
were surprised and overwhelmed all at once. This is what traveling abroad is all about. The little things.
This was a truly rewarding trip. In fact, these trips often do more to change your life than you could ever imagine. They
prepare you to work in resource poor environments and help you to develop your skills as a clinician. If you keep an
open mind and heart, you will never be the same. As a scholar, I had the privilege of designing the simulation that the
students went through prior to departure. I got to see students who had never traveled before grow in front of my eyes.
I observed some of the same initial reactions that I had experienced. We all felt a sense of belonging at the end. This tri
p was very different in some respects from my other missions, but the same feeling of a home away from home. I both
want and need this work to be a major part of my life. I feel a sense of purpose and duty. I’ll be back soon.
Vanessa traveled to the Jesse Rohde Foundation “Heal the Home Africa”
in Oworobong, Ghana, as part of her fieldwork through the NYIT Center
for Global Health. Seventeen other NYCOM/NYIT students participated in
the medical mission. Doctors on site were Edward Cho DO MPH, Deborah
Lardner DO DTM&H, Zehra Ahmed MBBS R-PAC, and Jesse Rohde DO
MPH. Edward Gotfried DO also helped to prepare students prior to their
departure for Ghana.
If you are interested in having your account of an interna-
tional mission or experience featured, or if you know someone who may be interested in sharing,
please email Kristin Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chapter Highlights– GA-PCOM
Nov. 6 Road Race in Suwanee To
Benefit Annandale Village
SUWANEE, Ga. – The starting gun for
the 2010 running of the GA-PCOM Old
Peachtree Road 5K for Annandale Vil-
lage sounded at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov.
6 on the GA-PCOM Campus at 625 Old
Peachtree Road NW in Suwanee. The
race, for the first time, was a Run & See Georgia Grand Prix premier event. Additionally, all runners‟ times are
posted on the Georgia Runner‟s Results Page (http://www.coolrunning.com/results/10/ga/
Nov6_GAPCOM_set2.shtml). The male overall winner is GA-PCOM‟s very own Arian Moshref (20:49), and
female overall winner was Joan Walls from Winder, Georgia (22:19). A total of 40 runners participated in the
This year, over $500 was raised to benefit Annandale Village (www.annandale.org) which provides a natural and
serene environment for adults with developmental disabilities. Annandale began through the concern of Dr. and
Mrs. Maxwell Berry for the future and welfare of their child with develop-
mental disabilities, “they wanted what all parents want for their children in
adulthood...the opportunity for the best life possible.”
The event was sponsored by the Student Osteopathic Medical Association
and held in conjunction with the Georgia Osteopathic Medical Associa-
tion‟s annual fall conference.
A premiere osteopathic medical school, Philadelphia College of Osteo-
pathic Medicine boasts a history that spans more than 100 years and a rich
tradition of training DOs in primary and specialty care. For more than a
century, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) Physicians have practiced a holistic approach to healthcare. They
know that the mind plays a crucial role in the body‟s capacity to heal, that treating the whole person rather than
just the symptoms is essential, that treatments such as osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) aids the body‟s
natural healing process, and that physicians should work in partnership with patients for the best outcomes. These
osteopathic physicians contribute to the health and health policy of communities
throughout the nation, including those in disadvantaged rural areas and in regions
especially impacted by primary care physician shortages.
Since 2005, the College has offered its comprehensive DO program at Georgia
Campus - Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. GA-PCOM also offers
programs in the Biomedical sciences and Pharmacy.
Special thanks to all our sponsors: Osteopathic Institute of the South, Georgia
Osteopathic Medical Association, Community Foundation of Northeast Georgia,
Gwinnett County Police, American Medical Response, Blue-eyed Freckle, Eco
Trading Co., GA-PCOM Pediatric Interest Group, and the GA-PCOM student
chapters of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, American
College of Osteopathic Internists, and the American College of Osteopathic
Chapter Highlights– UNECOM
Our SOMA chapter has sponsored several important events for the student body
of the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. Before each set of
exams for 1st year students, the SOMA club holds a Physical Exam Diagnosis review
(i.e. cardiovascular, neuro, cranial nerves, peripheral vasculture, musculoskeletal etc.)
We hold mock exams so that a 2nd year student acts as a proctor while two 1st year stu-
dents perform the said exams. The first year students find this extremely helpful, while
it provides a wonderful review for second year students.
Also before each set of OMM exams the SOMA club sets up various booths in
the OMM lab teaching manual techniques. Similarly, SOMA participates in anatomy
lab exam review in the cadaver lab.
SOMA also has been very active in co-sponsoring various guest lunch lectures by
physicians that speak to the UNECOM student body to enhance awareness of impor-
tant new treatments and methods in various specialties and manual techniques.
Moreover, we believe that it is important to help students develop professionally
so SOMA provides the opportunity to order business cards for those interested in net-
working with this resource.
Lastly, we believe it is very important to train leaders who will take over as sec-
ond years move on to rotations. Each current leader works to train a prospective SOMA
Overall the UNECOM SOMA chapter is known to be very enthusiastic and active
on campus. We work had to enhance student development and enrichment- by helping
teach and give back to students in the setting of exam reviews as well as professional
Chapter Highlights– Rocky Vista COM
Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Morey Middle School Sports Physicals
On August 28th, 2010 a group of 26 first and second years RVUCOM students
visited Morey Middle School in an underserved area of Denver to perform free sports
physicals so the students could play fall sports. With the help of 7 attending physi-
cians, about 100 physicals were performed. This is the second time RVUCOM SOMA
students participated in this event, and it has been so well received it has now become
an annual event.
Many of the students who received physicals would not be able to afford them;
therefore, they would not be permitted to participate in sports. 6 stations were set up,
with 1 attending physician supervising each station. The medical students performed
blood pressure checks, HEENT exam, heart and lung exam, musculoskeletal exams,
neurological exams, and abdominal exams, while under the watchful eye of an experi-
This event gave SOMA members to practice their physical exam skills, learn new
things, and help the community. Many of the children examined were healthy and
given the go-ahead to play fall sports!
Chapter Highlights– Touro NV COM
After the Fall convention and in the spirit of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the SOMA chapter at Touro
University Nevada helped coordinate an Adopt a Family community service project where students were assigned to
individual families to make the holidays a little easier and little more joyous for those in need. In addition, we or-
ganized a number of successful fundraising events including a Chicago Hot Dog Sale and several Restaurant Fund-
raiser Nights with proceeds being donated to our SOMA chapter to raise money for DO Day on the Hill. As the
school year ended, we were excited for the new year to come and we looked forward to hosting several guest speak-
ers in January.
We began the year with a presentation on January 10th entitled “Serving the Osteopathic Profession through Leader-
ship” by Dr. Sharon Gustowski, President of the Nevada Osteopathic Medical Association. January 12 th was also a
very busy day as our campus hosted two important guests. During lunch, we were pleased to have Dr. Michael Cum-
mings from MSUCOM return to Touro Nevada for a second year to give a presentation on Postdoctoral Matching.
There were over 100 students who attended the presentation and we all gained some valuable information about the
residency application process. On the evening of January 12 th, we were pleased to welcome Dr. Karen Nichols to
Touro Nevada to speak to two full rooms of students, faculty members, administrators and physicians about the
AOA. Dr. Nichols spoke about the infamous Forbes article, increasing residency opportunities, DO international
recognition, and what the AOA is designed to do for us as current students and future doctors. Following her pres-
entation, our school hosted a reception in her honor thanking her for all that she has done representing us as students
in the Osteopathic Community.
In addition to the guest speakers we‟ve hosted this month, Touro Nevada‟s SOMA members also volunteered with
members of our state Osteopathic organization at the Three Square Food Bank to help fight hunger in the Las Vegas
Valley. In February we will kick off our Biggest Loser competition on campus encouraging students, faculty and
staff to lose weight. We will be providing healthy lunch alternatives by running a salad bar and we will have several
physical fitness challenges. In March we will be hosting our 3 rd Annual Casino Night to raise money for our trip to
the DC Convention. We will also be hosting our Somatic Function Happy Hour Event giving SOMA members a
chance to network with community physicians. April will be here before we know it, and we look forward to seeing
all of you at DO Day.
Chapter Highlights– TUCOM-CA COM
Seventeen enthusiastic pre-medical students from the Pre-SOMA chapter at the Univer-
sity of California, Davis visited Touro University-California on November 19, 2010. More
than twenty members from Touro-CA SOMA chapter volunteered throughout the day to
help the undergraduates get a sense of life in medical school, osteopathy, and the student
experience at Touro.
The visit started with a tour of the campus and its classrooms, laboratories, and library.
Then, Touro students provided a demonstration in the OMM lab and discussed the princi-
ples of osteopathy—including our unique approach to the whole patient. With the supervi-
sion of our of our OMM fellows, Anna Veach, we exhibited various osteopathic manipulat-
ive treatments including Muscle Energy, Lymphatics, HVLA, and Soft Tissue. Afterwards,
we had a lunchtime discussion that allowed time for the Pre-SOMA members to ask a
medical student panel various questions about the admissions process and the medical
student lifestyle. Finally, the event was topped off with an anatomy lab tour, presentation,
This event was an exciting and positive experience for both the pre-med and Touro stu-
dents. Pre-med students were interested and engaged throughout the day, and we could
tell they had done their research on OMM and the application process prior to their visit as
they asked many thoughtful questions. Touro students were equally excited to showcase
their knowledge in the osteopathic world, especially OMM. Lauren McLemore,OMSII,
said, ―We got to show off the skills we have, and that was fun and very rewarding.‖ Kellie
Littlefield, OMSII and our SOMA chapter President, said, ―The chance to help and encour-
age aspiring allied health professionals was really satisfying.‖
In all, the event was an excellent way to encourage pre-med students to learn about a ca-
reer in Osteopathic Medicine, and it is our hope that the day inspired them further in their
journey to becoming a physician. For Touro students, it was a great way to reflect on how
much they have learned in their time in Touro and gave them a renewed excitement about
becoming a DO.
Chapter Highlights– OSU COM
It has been a great second half of 2010 at OSU-COM. Like most schools, we have
been busy planning our year, enacting our plans, and recruiting! Since school has
started, SOMA has been active in keeping our students involved in several of our
In August, we held our annual SOMA / Oklahoma Osteopathic Association OMSI
Mentor Mentee Dinner. Both OOA mentors and OSU-COM class of 2013 and 2014
attended the dinner. It was a great evening of introducing SOMA to the new
students and what we do on our campus.
In September, we held our annual Rural Health Fair in Chouteau, OK. It was a fun
Saturday full of education, testing blood sugars, taking vitals, and practicing OMM. It
was also our opportunity to highlight the town‟s only physician who is a D.O.
In November of this year, SOMA hosted three Oklahoma State Representatives in
a Politics 101 meeting. The representatives came to speak to our students about
how one brings an idea to a state legislator and seeing it come to fruition as a law.
We also took the time to have a Q & A session, where many of our students asked
questions concerning Oklahoma Law and the changes in health care. It was a
successful evening of education, relevant topics, and improvement of our political
understanding of local laws.
Well that wraps up this month‟s newsletter.
Stay tuned for more up-dates about SOMA events to come! Check us out
online at www.studentdo.com.
Feel free to contact me at PR@StudentDO.com if you have any questions
or would like to submit an article for next month‟s newsletter.
Best of luck to you all with school, rotations and applying to residencies!
Stephanie Marcy, OMS III
SOMA Director of Public Relations
2010-2011 SOMA Board of Trustees: 2010-2011 SOMA National Board: International Health Programs
President—Crystal Lenz Clinical Clerkship Coordinator: Crystal Director: Kristin Lynch
Vice President & Webmaster-Nick Scott OPP Coordinator: Andi
Perkins Convention Coordinator: Lisa Marie Wenner
Treasurer—Jeremy Curtis Piwoszkin Director of Research & De-
Region I Trustee—Jennifer Luo Director of Political Affairs: Phil Eskew velopment: Joe Prinsen
Director of Public Health– Jeffrey Programs & Benefits Coordi-
Region II Trustee-Jessica Barnes
Whitener nator: Heather Bruce
Region III Trustee-Daniel Nolan
Foundation Associate Director of Unity Campaign Task Force
Region IV Trustee-Mona Amin Director: Alicia Isom
Scholarships & Grants: K. Adam
Foundation Chairperson-Kathryn Lundberg Director of Public Relations:
Miner Stephanie Marcy
Foundation Associate Liaison: Vi Song
Foundation Director-Matt Reynolds Tring
Membership Coordinator-Lauren Foundation Associate Director of Fi-
Brankle nancial Affairs: Natalie Wessel
Member-at-Large & Director of Mi- Director of Pre-SOMA: Robyn Young
nority Affairs– Gloria Lopez