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|The three colleges of TUC and student support services share how new students are set to succeed at the second-ever Parent Night.|
Steady turnout for Touro’s Parent Night
Touro University California’s second-ever Parent Night, which was held Sept. 4, hosted nearly three times as many parents as the inaugural Parent Night event the previous year.
Parents were treated to a campus tour prior to hearing first-hand from representatives from each of Touro’s different colleges, Jewish Life, Student Affairs, the student run free clinic and much more.
Touro Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Sarah Sweitzer welcomed parents to the campus during a brief presentation that included a short overview from the school’s different deans.
|Parent Amy Sabourin (L) claims a raffle prize and recognizes her daughter, Kate, COM Class of 2023, with Dr. Sarah Sweitzer|
Following Dr. Sweitzer’s overview of Touro’s history, values and mission, deans from the school’s different colleges addressed the parents and explained the focus of their respective colleges, including an occasional “humble brag,” as the students might call it.
Dr. Michael Clearfield, Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, explained that Touro has the largest dual degree DO/MPH program in the osteopathic profession. COM places an emphasis on training caring, compassionate physicians, Dr. Clearfield told the parents.
The students are learning to become, “the type of person you’d like to see if you were sick,” Dr. Clearfield said.
Dr. Rae Matsumoto, Dean of the College of Pharmacy, added a small brag of her own, telling parents Touro has pass rates for the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination or NAPLEX that are among the very best in the country.
Dr. Matsumoto noted that the students who are drawn to Touro often come wanting to make the world a better place.
“This is a place where they can make a difference and be a difference,” Dr. Matsumoto said.
Dr. Lisa Norton, Dean of the College of Education and Health Sciences, compared Touro to numerous other schools where she has worked throughout her career and told parents Touro is tough to top.
“Our faculty are really hands on here,” Dr. Norton said. “It really is a special place.”
The evening wrapped up with a raffle drawing that sent several parents home with prizes, and every parent left with a small bag filled with Touro-branded trinkets.
At a graduate school, such as Touro University California, where the students all have undergraduate degrees and the instructors have extensive certifications, advanced degrees and professional development accreditations, teaching would be second nature.
Teaching, however, is a learned skill and that is the focus of an effective teaching training course offered by both Touro University California and Touro University Nevada through the Association of College and University Educators.
The training rolled out last year to 20 staff and faculty at TUN and nine more at TUC, expanding to 20 participants at both campuses this year.
SEPT 30 - ROSH HASHANA STARTS
OCT. 1 - ROSH HASHANA ENDS
OCT. 9 - YOM KIPPUR
OCT. 14-15 - SUKKOT
OCT. 16-19 SUKKOT
OCT. 21 - SHMINI ATZERET
OCT. 22 - SIMCHAT TORAH
“We saw it as a really good investment and so far the courses have been transformative,” said Dr. Jim O’Connor, Founding Dean Emeritus of the College of Education and Health Sciences and Director of the Center for Innovative Learning and Teaching (CILT).
O’Connor coordinated with counterparts at the TUN campus to implement the program in the hopes it will create a more engaging, interactive learning environment for students.
The ACUE course isn’t simply a professional development seminar meted out over a weekend retreat. The training consists of 25 modules that span nine months and represents a fair time commitment from participating staff and faculty.
Rather than resenting the additional time burden, O’Connor said the participants seem to relish the opportunity to improve their teaching skills.
“Most of our instructors have great expertise in their chosen fields but don’t necessarily have that same expertise when it comes to teaching . . . so they just teach the way they were taught as students,” O’Connor said. “(ACUE training) is making life more exciting for them. They’re networking within the campus community and sharing ideas with their colleagues.”
The intent of the training is to help faculty evolve as instructors to meet the needs of an evolving student body. And that seems to be happening thus far.
“I feel like I’m learning so much about creative ways to better structure my classes,” said Darcie Larimore-Arenas, PA-C, MSPAS, MPH, an assistant professor with the PA program. “I have implemented some of the techniques in my classes already and immediately noticed a difference in how my students have responded. We all seemed to be enjoying the experience more. Additionally, I felt better organized, on time, and more energetic about the approaches to delivering material.”
The TUC class roster is represented by at least one person from each of the different colleges.
The evidence-based modules were developed by some of the most respected experts in instructional design, O’Connor said. Some of the sessions include topics like: effective class planning, techniques for teaching large groups, utilizing visualization tools, motivating students and embracing classroom diversity among many others.
The ultimate goal is to transform the educational outcomes for students.
“Rather than just memorizing information, they (students) will learn how to apply new information, analyze new information and evaluate it,” O’Connor said.
All of that stems from the faculty’s eagerness, through this training, to help their students optimize success.
“They (faculty) are cross-pollinating their ideas,” O’Connor said. “They’re trying new things and finding out those things are working.”
It’s not uncommon for professors to include their students in research projects – like a biology professor utilizing students to collect samples during field work, for instance.
Opportunities for students to be involved in the interpretation of data and publishing of research findings is less common but it’s something Dr. Carinne Brody, MPH, MA, DrPH, an associate professor with Touro University California’s Public Health program tries to provide her students. This past year, she was able to make this happen with two TUC students, Mitchell Lienemann PharmD/MPH and Ida Jelveh Joint MSPAS/MPH.
The three, along with a team of Cambodian researchers, co-authored an article recently published in mHealth related to the development of a text messaging health outreach project, which in this specific case focused on outreach to female entertainment workers (FEWs) in Cambodia.
|Carinne Brody, MPH, MA, DrPH|
Unlike traditional research projects in the public health realm – like the most effective methods to distribute Polio vaccines to the masses, for example – this project examined the process of developing a health intervention. The article provides a detailed description of the six months process that the research team underwent to incorporate the perspectives of this hard-to-reach population into the outreach project making it more relevant and transformative.
“This was a different angle,” Dr. Brody said. “There are fewer papers written about the process of research.”
What the team discovered was the practice of developing effective health outreach strategies requires a lot of continuous, grass roots foot soldiering – not entirely unlike an election campaign.
“I was able to expand my comfort zone by delving into the unfamiliar, both academically through research, and culturally, as it was my first experience in a developing country,” said Lienemann. “Overall, it was quite eye-opening to realize the amount of work from the research team, cooperation from venues, and willingness from the participants that is required in developing formative qualitative research.”
Brody said researchers conducted a series of focus groups with a sample of female entertainment workers. The first set intended to illuminate the experiences of FEWs feeling healthy and accessing health care. The subsequent groups were based on the analysis of the data from the first group and so on. The team went back to the participants again and again to refine the language of the outreach messages, add in cultural buffers and truly integrate the perspective of the participants so that it felt more like getting a text message from a friend who really cares.
That attention to what the article refers to as, “participatory methodologies,” helped build a highly successful project to increase utilization of health services among FEWs in Cambodia, but also serves as a framework for future research projects.
“It’s applicable to other populations,” Dr. Brody said of the research. As far as the effort of her students and the overall success of the project are concerned, she had nothing but praise.
“Whenever it works as well as this, I feel really happy,” Dr. Brody said.
Ultimately, however, it’s still a projected rooted in public health, so Dr. Brody was happiest to shine a light on a population that can be easily overlooked for many reasons including social stigma and the criminalization of brothels.
“We tried to elevate their (FEWs) voices. Their voices are the most important,” she said.
|A Fresh Coat...
Students from the College of Pharmacy took part in their White Coat Ceremony on August 25th. The annual event, which recognizes the students' committment to professionalism, was the first of several white coat ceremonies scheduled on campus this year.
Palliative care focuses on symptom management, quality of life, and aligning personal values with the plan of care for patients and families facing serious illness like congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and similar disorders.
The seriousness of conditions requires the palliative care team – which generally consists of a physician, nurse, social worker and interfaith chaplain – leave no stone unturned in working with the disease-focused care team.
The big question, though, is: how does the care team know where all of the stones are?
Communication, according to Dr. DorAnne Donesky, PhD, ANP-BC, ACHPN, a professor at Touro University California. In an article published in the Journal of Palliative Care, Dr. Donesky calls communication training the “hallmark” of palliative care.
“Palliative care is an interprofessional team sport,” Dr. Donesky said.
No matter who the care providers are on a specific care team, the patient in question is facing a very serious and potentially fatal set of medical circumstances. Judgement and memory could be clouded by emotions and stress, not to mention potentially conflicting information coming from multiple health care providers, relatives and other loved ones.
Devising the best course of action as a care team requires proficient and fluid communication between team members and with the patient and family; this can be challenging at times.
Addressing those challenges was the key focus of the research reported by Donesky and her team, which centered around a concept called TeamTalk.
More than 60 care professionals participated in workshops over the course of two years. The workshops were guided by a faculty team represented by each of the four basic care team members and the outcome of the workshops was improved communication skills within the groups.
Donesky said in health care settings, the patients and other team members often wait for the physician to take the lead. However, through TeamTalk training, the palliative care team members learned to share leadership when appropriate.
“All of the pieces are important,” Donesky said. “The physicians feel really relieved when they know their colleagues will step forward.”
Donesky also said there’s a paradigm shift that happens through the training that allows professionals like nurses and chaplains to take a more engaged, proactive role.
“I’m really thrilled to have this work out there,” Donesky said. “I’ve been sharing it with colleagues for years informally.”
The TeamTalk methodology has now been adapted for use in Practice-PC, a UCSF-sponsored continuing education course. Donesky said the faculty leaders are hopeful to one day adapt the training to lower level learners, as well.
“Communication is so important as healthcare providers and as interprofessional health professions educators,” she said.
The punishment of incarceration comes with a stigma that will likely always be part of an inmate’s experience.
A similar stigma has often been attached to people working within prisons, in addition to corrections officers.
David A Duncan, D.O., FAAFP, CDR, USPHS, Clinical Director, Federal Corrections Institute, Dublin, is hoping to pioneer change when it comes to that stigma for health care professionals working inside prisons.
Dr. Duncan, a member of the Touro University California COM graduating class of 2001 – affectionately known as the Pioneers – has taken Touro’s message of service to heart. Dr. Duncan served in the Navy for 10 years, completing flight school and an aviation physiology program as well as a Family Medicine Residency, later becoming Senior Medical Officer and flight surgeon with the Coast Guard in Alameda.
|David Duncan, DO, Class of 2001, Clinical Director at Federal Correctional Institution, Dublin|
After his experiences with military service, Dr. Duncan went on to serve humanity in a different way at FCI Dublin, beginning in 2014. It was there that Dr. Duncan discovered the heart of what Touro calls healthcare disparities.
“This is, as a whole, the most underserved and at-risk population,” Dr. Duncan said. “It is still my overall favorite and most rewarding population – which came as a complete surprise.”
FCI Dublin has been an all-female prison for a little over 7 years – housing some of the most infamous female inmates in the nation’s recent history, like Patty Hearst, would-be Gerald Ford assassin Sara Jane Moore, and the so-called Hollywood Madame, Heidi Fleiss.
But far from the TV cameras that brought those inmates into people’s living rooms, FCI Dublin, which is one of just four female-only federal prisons and the only one west of the Rockies, is home to more than 1,200 women, who come from all walks of life and experience a full range of health issues, Dr. Duncan said.
Having served in several different prisons with security levels as high as Federal Penitentiaries, he describes the overall experience as “very sobering”, though he’s also quick to point out, “I felt an even higher level of appreciation” from his incarcerated patients as from those in his other assignments.
Being a federal employee and outside of the healthcare industry has some drawbacks, like a slightly lower pay scale than a doctor might expect in the private sector. However, the freedom from the types of hassles that are inherent in the private healthcare sector are more than worth it to Dr. Duncan.
“I don’t have the pressure to see 30 patients a day to justify my existence,” he said. “I’m never sweating over receiving a negative Yelp! Review. Instead, his service within the prison allows Dr. Duncan to do the thing that attracts most to the medical professions: treating patients.
Even that has a stigma of its own, which Dr. Duncan is also working to nullify.
“My motivation to work is giving my patients the care they need,” Dr. Duncan said. “And what these patients need is a qualified primary care provider who listens to them and doesn’t believe that being deprived medical care is part of their punishment.”
Many of the inmates – crimes notwithstanding – have suffered greatly as it is through their lives with poverty, poor education, poor diets, substance abuse and sexual violence, which Dr. Duncan estimated to be as high as 75 percent of the female inmate population. Touro, in fact, could well be positioned to be a pioneer itself, he suggested. The Masters of Public Health program has recently added a Health Equity and Criminal Justice track which focuses on, “the intersection of health and the US justice system.”
The HECJ track has a requirement that students complete a field study in either a California correctional facility or a community-based organization that serves people with a history of incarceration.
Dr. Duncan said he was “thrilled” to hear about the new track, saying, “That is probably the best way to recruit providers of all types into this line of work. Providers need to know about the tremendous need and satisfaction that goes with serving the most vulnerable patients in our midst: the incarcerated.”
|Shw Lew, COM MSMHS Class of 2019|
I Am Touro:
Shw Lew, College of Osteopathic Medicine Master of Science in Medical Health Sciences
Program Class of 2019
Like typical students, Touro University California’s Shw Lew and a friend, Linsey Bui, who is coincidentally a student at Touro University Nevada, decided to treat themselves with a vacation after each of them finished their respective MSMHS programs.
Before a grueling stint in medical school was set to begin for each of them, the two decided to take a backpacking trip to Asia.
“We’ve talked about wanting to travel around Asia and found the perfect opportunity to do a backpacking trip this past summer right before medical school started,” Lew said.
Part of the joy of travel is it offers a chance at unique opportunities and opens avenues to meet new people.
Lew and Bui had a unique experience in Asia when they met a fellow traveler at a hostel in Korea. Certainly that was nothing new, particularly for college students bunking with other young travelers from around the world at various hostels.
During their stay in Korea, Lew and Bui met Hansl Mo. But that wasn’t the unique experience. What was unique was that Mo, like Bui and Lew, had also taken the Asia trip following his master’s program and ahead of his College of Osteopathic Medicine studies.
More interestingly, like Lew and Bui, Mo was a student at, of all places, Touro College in New York.
“We ended up bonding over this connection and we never thought that we would meet someone with so many similarities as us. What were the chances that all three of us did the MSMHS program and were all accepted to COM program in Touro Nevada, Touro California and Touro New York?” Lew said. “It was such a coincidence that all three of us, from different parts of the world with similar backgrounds, met in Korea.”
Just like the famous line from the classic film Casablanca, “we’ll always have Paris,” no matter what happens in the future careers for Mo, Bui and Lew, they’ll always have Korea.
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