In this Issue
Fresh on Facebook
|Margaret Kelso, Diabetes Prevention Program Life Coach, leads a session at the Florence
Diabetes Awareness Month: TUC Takes Action
Tackling diabetes brings in the whole team at TUC. Students from throughout the health professions engage the community face-to-face in education empowerment programs, research opportunities, and community outreach. To kick off World Diabetes Day on November 14, students looking to help those with diabetes or pre-diabetes to take control of their health will have an opportunity to get involved by visiting the interprofessional team in front of Lander Hall at noon.
In September, students recruited community leaders with diabetes for an eight hour forum to learn about the community’s needs and discover ideas for how to allocate TUC’s resources going forward.
“It was an exhausting project, but the feedback we received was amazing. I never thought I would be a part of something like it,” said Leslie Nguyen, Joint MSPAS/MPH Class of 2020.
Suggestions for ways to improve the health of Solano county residents included building and maintaining community gardens, increasing accessibility for those who are physically handicapped, and the possibility of a Mobile Farmers Market.
Solano County has an Emergency Department discharge rate for diabetes 1.6 times the average rate in California. Giving people the tools to prevent diabetes means reaching them early, which is one reason why TUC’s Mobile Diabetes Education Center (MOBEC) kicked off the new school year by joining seven back to school events throughout the Vallejo City Unified School District. Children played games like “Go, Slow, Whoa”, where a nutrient-dense apple is “Go”, processed applesauce is “Slow”, and low-nutrient, high calorie apple pie is “Whoa”.
“Kids hold the cards, and they can discuss with their peers or family to figure out which category [the food item] belongs to,” said Anne Lee, RD, CDE, Diabetes Program Manager. “Some can be tricky.”
Community programs like Diabetes Education and Empowerment Program and the Diabetes Prevention Program offer a six week crash course or a yearlong support group respectively to help people control and prevent diabetes in their lives. These programs are run by students and community members.
For Margaret Kelso, a retired teacher in Vallejo, joining the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) and becoming a life coach gave her the support she was looking for to get the commitment to change her behaviors. By meeting with others like her, she’s found that diabetes is not a one size fits all disease.
“You learn by teaching,” Ms. Kelso said. “I thought if I teach this, I’d stay on more with the program. Otherwise I’d be a hypocrite!”
American Pharmacists Month kicked off with fanfare at the College of Pharmacy as dignitaries met with students at the gazebo in front of the college.
Pippin Dew, Vice Mayor of Vallejo; Tom Bartee, District Director of California State Senator Bill Dodd’s Office, presenting on behalf of Congressman Mike Thompson and Assemblymember Tim Grayson; and Stephen Hallet, Aide to Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown, delivered proclamations to recognize pharmacists’ service to the community as well as the accomplishments of leading women in pharmacy.
American Pharmacists Month was initiated by the American Pharmacists Association to spread awareness of the wide range of services that pharmacists offer beyond the safe distribution of medications. Examples span from seasonal and lifespan immunizations; medication reviews to assess safety, effectiveness, interactions and adherence; care management and counseling for disease states such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol; and smoking cessation counseling.
“The work you do is going to improve the quality of life for all of us,” said Vice Mayor Pippin Dew. “Thank you for making that choice.”
Also celebrated was the upcoming Women Pharmacists Day, honoring the rise of women in pharmacy. In 1960, only 8% of pharmacists were women, whereas today women represent 55% of the field. More than 20 College of Pharmacy faculty are women.
“The profession has evolved from being very focused on products to now being focused on patients,” said Dr. Rae Matsumoto, Dean of the College of Pharmacy. “You will be part of a generation that will bring a whole host of new changes to really help the pharmacy profession continue to thrive and evolve over time.”
“Serve the underserved” is a rallying cry that one can hear throughout TUC, and it is a mission that the Joint MSPAS/MPH program takes to heart. Of its newly admitted class, 83% are from areas that are underserved or populations that are underrepresented in medicine. It is a passion that is evident with in students like Kaitlyn Riley, National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholar and member of the class of 2022.
For Ms. Riley, it was her growing range of experience in working with underserved populations that brought her to the program. Before coming to TUC, she worked as an EMT, then a psychiatric technician and a CPR educator. She says that these experiences are what sparked her passion for working with underserved populations.
Often she would have to find ways to help the people she met, like when she was asked to teach CPR to someone who was deaf.
“I didn’t know how to do it,” she said. “I had to exaggerate my movements to convey the techniques, and she was able to pass her CPR education class,” remembered Ms. Riley.
Continuing to meet patients’ needs by thinking outside the box is a duty she stressed.
The most pivotal moment in her commitment to serving underserved communities came in 2017 when Ms. Riley embarked alone on a two week medical mission to Ghana. Working without the technology that she was used to, Ms. Riley assessed various patients and helped to diagnose malaria in a lab. She was also invited to assist in a child’s delivery.
“I was really empowered by how accepting medical providers were of all patients in Ghana. The providers really created a medical home,” she reflected.
As a NHSC Scholar, Ms. Riley has made the commitment to work in an underserved community after graduation. She can be placed anywhere throughout the country, and the options seem open for the Walnut Creek native. When she reaches spring of her second year, she plans to seek out rotation sites in areas with great need and little access to care.
But for now, she is still taking in what student life has to offer, like continuing to swim and getting involved in the on-campus garden.
Achieving goals, in theory, is as easy as following a series of steps. Some goals, however require a lot of steps. A lot of steps.
When 2013 Touro University California graduate Ari Ramos began working at Barton Memorial Hospital in her hometown of South Lake Tahoe, she noticed the high number of patients who came in suffering from preventable diseases, like Type II Diabetes, for example.
Rather than treating the symptoms of a greater healthcare problem, Ramos decided to do something to help advocate for the public health issues that are the root of many preventable diseases.
She decided to trek across the United States – on foot – to raise awareness and to
serve as an inspiration to others to follow a lifestyle based in healthy eating habits
and fitness routines.
“I decided to be the change I wanted to see in the world,” Ramos said. “If I were to die tomorrow, I wanted my dream of running across America to be a reality.”
There was doubt, of course. Some people didn’t even think it was possible to journey
across the United States on foot, Ramos said. She initially had her own reservations,
Although much of her trip took place in the coolest part of the year, her path lead her directly through the Sun Belt states and across some of the most merciless, desolate landscapes in this country.
“I’d get to the open desert in Texas and California and see signs like, ‘no services
for 111 miles,’” Ramos said. She had to find creative ways of gathering food and water
along the way.
The weather didn’t make the journey easy by any stretch of the imagination. A rainstorm that struck while Ramos was camping near an arroyo nearly ended her voyage –not to mention her life – and other nights temperatures plunged as low as minus 2, she said.
These distant areas void of life are also void of technology as Ramos often found herself in places without cellular service.
“If I needed to call someone for a real emergency, I knew that wasn’t possible,” Ramos
Along with literal deserts, Ramos encountered first-hand one of the issues powering obesity in the United States, what public health professionals call “food deserts.”
These so-called food deserts are areas where there is little to no access to healthy food options like fresh fruits and vegetables. Those areas are common in remote, rural areas and are also common in lower-income urban neighborhoods.
Luckily Ramos had the aid of complete strangers who would leave jugs of water along her route so she could pick it up the following day along the way. It was the kindness of strangers that helped Ramos maintain her sense of hope along the way.
“I now have friends every 20 miles all across the country,” she said. Even though there was a lot of kindness from plenty of strangers, the isolation and loneliness were immense, adding significant mental strain to the physical punishment her body endured day after day. Nevertheless, the physical and mental toll remained constant and at times Ramos wasn’t sure she could endure.
The geography sometimes made the decision a little easier, but so too did her friends.
“Giving up is easy,” Ramos said. “It’s a little difficult to give up in the middle of nowhere, though.” At other times, Ramos got encouraging messages from friends and family at just the right moment to keep the wind in her sails.
And the sails needed a lot of wind. Her journey from Florida to the Santa Monica Pier in Southern California was just over 3,000 miles and took six months to complete. Thought of in a different light, the trip was just under 4 million steps. A lot of steps.
And the journey isn’t quite over. After having hosted a talk about her journey on Oct. 15 at Incline Village, Ramos will be the first alumna from the College of Education and Health Sciences to be honored at TUC’s 2019 Lamplighter Awards Gala.
|The PA Spirit
Joint MSPAS/MPH students had a thrilling PA Week, getting together to donate to the Bay Area Rescue Mission, visit Mare Island Technology Academy, and of course, dressing up for photos.
According to the funding web page set up by the SGA, student leaders feel it is imperative for a school specializing largely in health sciences to provide adequate space for students to engage in fitness activities.
The desire for a larger space to work out was something the current SGA members heard about quite frequently from their fellow students, according to the web page.
SGA VP of Sports, Brad Steubel, said that perhaps 15-20 students could cram into the current gym but really the space can comfortably handle about 12 students at a time.
Initially, the students and the school’s administration had some trouble settling on a room for the student fitness center, the SGA said. Eventually, the sides were able to work out a location in the Wilderman Hall basement that suited all parties.
One of the project’s student coordinators, Jamie Katuna, said the Wilderman location is effectively in the middle of campus and should help serve as more of a central hub for students to gather and interact.
“Filling it with high quality equipment should make people more excited about working out in there, too,” Katuna said.
Now, the SGA is hoping to raise as much as $10,000 to repaint the room and upgrade the flooring, as well as add some additional modern work out equipment.
Interested donors can read more about the fitness facility and make a donation at
This fall, Touro University California is honored to recognize nine community lamplighters whose efforts in Solano County and abroad light the way forward for others. The Lamplighter Gala and Awards will be held Sunday, November 17 in the historic Farragut Inn. Event proceeds support TUC’s diversity student scholarships with the goal of further diversifying healthcare and education professionals to better reflect the communities they serve.
“Lamplighters create resounding impact by putting service to humanity first,” said Provost and CAO Dr. Sarah Sweitzer.
The Community Lamplighter Awards will be awarded in the areas of health, education, community mobilization, and social justice. Three TUC alumni will receive the Bernard Lander to Serve, to Lead, to Teach Alumni Award for making a positive difference in their community and field.
Also being given this year is the Touro Bull Award, which honors those who show the noble, unbeatable spirit of the Touro Bull.
The Lamplighter will feature a live auction, cocktail reception, and full dinner with awards made possible by the generous support of the Lamplighter Sponsors.
Experience is an excellent teacher. For Chandani Khana, COP I, she doesn’t just have to rely on her own experiences to help guide her through her PharmD program at Touro University California.
Khana comes from a whole family of pharmacists – including her sister, Puja, who is a 2009 COP graduate. After a tint with several of the retail pharmacy giants – Rite Aid, Target and CVS, Puja has since opened and now operates Remedy RX, an independent pharmacy in Rocklin, Ca. and is also a source of constant guidance for her younger sister.
On a tour of the Touro campus, Chandani said she felt at home here – which is fitting, having grown up around so many pharmacists. Her sister’s success following graduation from Touro did play a factor, saying she became intrigued after seeing Puja’s success.
“She (Puja) is very knowledgeable in the field and I’m hoping one day to be as knowledgeable as her,” Chandani said.
“My time at Touro was exciting,” said Puja. “The teachers are amazing.”
It’s often easy to look back on an experience and understand what one could have done better and thanks to Puja, Chandani doesn’t have to wait benefit from experience.
“It has definitely been helpful to have someone to use for guidance and as a role model,” Chandani said. “She’s constantly giving me advice on how to succeed.”
That advice often takes the form of how to prepare properly for certain aspects of academic life, but it also shows up with Puja serving as something of a real-life Alexa, there to help answer Chandani’s questions if she needs clarification.
“She’s always there to help explain things to me if I don’t understand them,” Chandani
The real excitement will come later on for her sister, Puja said, once she begins her clinical track. Then the two will have much more to discuss from a practical standpoint. But there’ more to it than that, Puja said.
“It’ll allow me a chance to go down Memory Lane,” she said.
Having her sister to call upon is a benefit not lost on Chandani and one she’s grateful for.
“I don’t think I’d be here without her,” Chandani said.
College of Pharmacy
College of Education & Health Sciences
College of Osteopathic Medicine
|What have you learned on your public health rotation?
Being on this rotation allowed me to spend a lot more time talking to patients about diabetes and other health-related topics. While on the MOBEC events, I have an opportunity to get to know more about the everyday struggles of someone managing diabetes and how that affects different parts of their lives. It really gives me a chance to understand what these people need and to offer the best support I can give them.
What have you learned on your public health rotation?
What makes this rotation unique is that we utilize interprofessional practice because
our patients get to work with a team of physicians, pharmacist, and PAs. I experienced
firsthand how this optimized patient care.
|Why teach the Diabetes
Education and Empowerment Program (DEEP)?
Diabetes runs in my family, particularly my grandfather (lolo, in Tagalog), and I watched him take control of his health. With all of his hard work, his diabetes is well-managed because he was empowered by his physician. I want to spread knowledge and awareness about diabetes to underserved populations and give them the necessary tools to have them be independent in taking care of their health, all while having fun during DEEP classes!
COM Class of 2021
Looking back on her didactic years at TUC, Katherine Farley recalls how she was able to balance her medical education by experiencing a different side of medicine as a Diabetes Prevention Program life coach.
“Leading the DPP was a chance to speak to community members on a person to person level about what small changes they could make that could have a huge impact on their lives,” said Ms. Farley.
She continued, “As a developing physician, you learn about all that contributes to a disease state and what you can do for them, but this is about the personal barriers that they have to being healthy.”
Ms. Farley decided to take an extra year from her studies to be a primary care fellow, getting an inside look at medicine as an educator. Through face-to-face mentorship, she serves as an additional resource for first and second year medical students.
The fellow also says that she has been eager to experience medicine from behind the bench. Before coming to TUC, Ms. Farley worked for two years in the research and development of vitamins and supplements. In pursuing the clinical research opportunities at TUC, Ms. Farley is tackling diabetes again, joining a research project to understand the outcomes of various dietary guidelines to look closely into their metabolic and weight loss outcomes.
Her goal for the year is to use her fellowship to create a research project that engages the community right where they are, pursuing opportunities to equip people with the know-how and motivation to include more fresh and unprocessed foods into their diets.
“Diabetes touches every person one way or another, and it is becoming such a big part of society,” said Ms. Farley. “It is my responsibility to be a part of it. And with such great efforts happening in the community, I have a really good opportunity through Touro to contribute”.
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