In this Issue
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|From left, Touro University California Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Sarah Sweitzer, chats with Warlito Moises, Vallejo City Council member Rozzana Verder-Aliga, and Congressman Mike Thompson during a ceremony to dedicate one of the campus streets to the Moises Family.|
Anyone spending a reasonable amount of time on Mare Island has noticed the vast majority of the structures are labeled with a building number, which is a remnant from when the island was occupied by the U.S. Navy.
Some of the main thoroughfares on the island had street names but some of the smaller side streets did not, which is how it remained for decades.
During his service as a police officer on Mare Island, Warlito Moises realized this was problematic at times. Moises knew that police officers, fire fighters and other emergency personnel could face a potentially deadly time delay in the confusion created by reporting parties giving a location with no street name.
Along with the fire chief at the time, and input from folks at public works, Moises was able to advocate for the inclusion of street names on Mare Island’s smaller cross streets, several of which run across the Touro University California campus.
One such street, Talos Avenue, brings students, faculty and visitors onto the campus from Azuar Avenue near the Touro University sign in front of the campus, continues past the old hospital complex and terminates in front of Lander Hall.
But that wasn’t the original name of the street.
Prior to Touro arriving on Mare Island, the street was known as Moises Way, a tribute from Warlito to his family’s service on the island. Between himself, his brother and their father, the Moises family worked nearly 100 years on Mare Island.
James Moises was the first to arrive in the US in the 1950s, having served in the US Army during World War II prior to his arrival.
Warlito Moises, who arrived in Vallejo years later, says a portion of what is now Lander Hall contained a highly sensitive area for the Navy.
“I named this street Moises because I didn’t want anyone parking on it,” Moises said. “If there was ever a call there, I wanted emergency crews to be able to get in and out quickly.”
Moises was at Mare Island a few years ago for an event honoring veteran when he drove by Talos Way and realized something had changed from his days as a reservist and police officer.
“I saw it said Talos and thought, ‘no, wait, that isn’t right,’” Moises said. That’s when he started a letter writing campaign to get the street name changed back to Moises Way.
With the support from Touro administrators and Vallejo city council members, an agreement was reached to switch the name of Talos back to Moises, ensuring the family’s legacy at Mare Island would endure.
Vallejo city councilmember Rozzana Verder-Aliga in a statement thanked Touro University for honoring the contributions to Filipino-Americans in Vallejo.
“The Moises family are long-time Vallejo residents,” Verder-Aliga said. “My hope is we consider naming more streets at Mare Island after the pioneer Filipino families in Vallejo.”
“When I found out it was going back to Moises Way, it was like, oh my, thank you God,” Moises said.
Medicine is two things at once – the practice of healing the sick and the framework upon which these healing services are built, as in the medical industry.
|Rowena Hann, College of Osteopathic Medicine Class of 2021|
Professionals practicing medicine – the healing kind – at times find themselves subjected to the constraints of the industry.
Rowena Hann, an OMS III dual degree DO/MPH student at Touro University California, has an eye on making both aspects of medicine work together efficiently to the benefit of patients.
Like some Touro students, Hann wasn’t immediately “called” to medicine, spending a few years teaching in Oakland prior to arriving at Touro.
Seeing how people’s environments affect their health – including food insecurity, housing insecurity or just a lack of consistent access to healthcare – helped solidify her decision to get into medicine.
Hann said the school’s focus on social justice and osteopathic medicine’s emphasis on the whole patient were enough to convince her Touro was the right place for her.
Her practical experiences in the community have already shown her that medicine – the healing type and the institutional type – have a role to play in people’s lives.
As a volunteer with the Berkeley Suitcase Clinic, which serves patients that don’t have consistent access to health care, Hann was one of a handful of DO students who did OMM treatments.
“It was a great way to apply everything we’ve learned in school,” Hann said. Hann said she found the OMM to be an effective therapy in many cases as several patients were able to relieve issues that often went untreated or undiagnosed because these patients were being seen for more severe or more chronic issues.
A second experience, one that came as part of a project Hann completed with PA student Marcus Chen, helped expose Hann to the structure of the medical industry.
The project had Chen and Hann working with the Berkeley Free Clinic, which provided weekend LGBTQ health services.
Through the process, Hann learned the challenging and layered work clinics do in order to change how they interface with the public.
“Medicine is an institution that can sometimes be slow to change,” Hann said. A major reason why, she discovered, is because clinics have to change their approach, their training and even patient admission forms.
“You can’t just put up a sign that says you’re LGBT friendly,” Hann said. The ways clinics go about managing this type of change is applicable no matter what the particular audience is, Hann said.
“Medicine serves everyone,” she said. “No matter what specialty you choose, you’re going to be treating gender non-conforming patients. Even knowing how to respectfully ask for feedback can be really meaningful.”
Gender non-conforming was a concept either unknown or not widely known even a decade ago, which tells Hann she needs to be prepared as a physician to manage populations she isn’t even yet aware of.
“It’s about having the humility to know you’re probably going to make a mistake but also to learn from that mistake and improve,” Hann said. “You just want your patients to trust you.”
For many colleges, research is a key component to increasing the visibility and esteem of the school, helping to attract more students in the process.
|The staff at MRC is equipped to handel a full array of research projects for faculty and outside collaborators.|
For a relatively young, relatively small school like Touro University California, a vibrant, active research arm is critical to growth.
Fortunately, the school’s Metabolic Research Center is well-suited to carry out the type of research that serves a benefit to both the school’s notoriety and to the public health industry in general.
Dr. Sally Chiu, the center’s manager, says the MRC works on numerous studies with Touro faculty as well as outside collaborators – like one recent study that was done in conjunction with researchers at UC Davis.
“We really want to foster research on campus,” Dr. Chiu said. “Our staff has enough experience that we can assist with just about any part of the clinical research process”
The nimble nature of the slightly smaller staff is one selling point, but with the structure of research funding changing from the past, cost is a major key in the MRC’s allure to researchers.
“In a time when conducting clinical research has become cost prohibitive in many cases, with support from the University, the MRC is able to provide resources at rates that can make this kind of research possible,” Dr. Chiu said.
As the name implies, the MRC’s primary focus is research on all aspects of metabolic functions, with a particular focus on diabetes and other widespread, chronic diseases.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that 30 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, while another 84 million have pre-diabetes, which are health conditions that can best be viewed as the onramp to the diabetes freeway.
The American Diabetes Association confirms those figures and adds that as many as seven million Americans have undiagnosed diabetes and that the nation adds about 1.5 million new cases of diabetes a year.
Esteem and visibility of the campus aside, the MRC is also engaged with highly-critical research that is aimed at improving on these grim figures.
Ongoing research studies at the MRC are aimed at finding new ways to prevent and treat metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and to further the understanding of how and why these diseases develop in certain people.
In fact, the MRC as a physical setting seems to embody that notion directly. While it’s one of the smallest buildings on campus, sharing its structure with the Student Health Center, the MRC is hoping to have a lasting impact on the campus.
“We really want Touro to be a center of excellence for research,” Dr. Chiu said.
Dr. Jacqueline Clavo-Hall, School of Nursing Interim Director, seen with Cee Harrelson, Director of the Simulation Lab, gives a clinical demonstration to area high school students during the annual Biotech Academy.
Dr. Ann Stoltz helped bring Touro University California’s School of Nursing into existence and, following her recent retirement, said she felt the nursing program was in capable hands moving forward.
One of the people into whose trusting hands the program has fallen is Dr. Jacqueline Clavo-Hall, Touro’s Interim Director of the School of Nursing. That title doesn’t fully capture Clavo-Hall’s full array of duties within the program, as she fulfils the functions of director, faculty member, servant-leader to the students and public liaison for the program.
Clavo-Hall has been with the School of Nursing from the very outset, helping Stoltz pioneer the program from zero students to now nearly 70. In that span, the SON has even been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education to award degrees of Masters of Science in Nursing Practice.
“We went from no school, to a school, to now being an accredited school,” Clavo-Hall said. The school also started out trying just to reach nurses in Solano County but has since attracted students from Marin, San Leandro and even Southern California, she said.
That growth has come about largely by opening doors to students who traditionally either didn’t have a career path forward or had a long and winding path forward marked with numerous obstacles. Upon graduating from TUC SON, some students have moved on to leadership positions in local hospitals, clinics and professional organizations, she said.
The SON also boasts a very diverse student population – which Clavo-Hall notes is also reflected in the faculty and staff.
“It’s what makes us unique,” Clavo-Hall said. “We serve student nurses from the novice to the expert, intergenerational, ethnically diverse . . . it’s one of the beauties of our school.”
While she emphasizes the importance of teamwork, others recognize her leadership qualities. “(Dr. Clavo-Hall) brings to the table her keen eye for detail and quality leadership that will allow students and faculty to flourish,” said Julian Gallegos, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, CNL, Assistant Professor and Assistant Director, School of Nursing.
“She is empathetic to all sides of the conversation and is respectful of opinions,” Dr. Gallegos said. “She thrives on students’ success.”
Clavo-Hall said that outreach may well expand in the future, with students likely spending less time in the physical classroom and collaborating more and more in virtual and online spaces, which could potentially open the program up to students across the state and the country.
“I want students to feel the passion of teaching and learning as if they’re sitting right here,” Clavo-Hall said.
Clavo-Hall said technology could help the SON appeal to an ever expanding number of nursing students into the future. But beyond the idea of broad availability and far-reaching access, Clavo-Hall said she also believes the school’s unique and inclusive philosophy appeals to a great many dedicated and passionate students and possible students.
The SON doesn’t aim to simply guide effective health care practitioners. Clavo-Hall said the various nursing programs aim to create nurse leaders, co-equal colleagues that not only tend to the sick but also help guide the management of healthcare systems.
And that’s a philosophy that makes Touro University California’s program truly exceptional among schools of nursing. It makes for exceptional students and graduates as well.
“We will sometimes hear students say, ‘I’m just a nurse,’ but we don’t allow that kind of language in our program,” Clavo-Hall said.
Touro University California was well-represented during the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s annual meeting in Chicago, July 12-17.
The College of Pharmacy had students at the annual meeting to accept an award for their presentation in the Script Your Future Medication Adherence challenge – honoring people at the very start of their careers.
Dr. Shane Desselle, a professor with Touro COP, was also at the annual meeting to accept the Sustained Contribution Award, which Dr. Desselle described as akin to a lifetime achievement award.
The AACP describes the award as one that goes to an individual for their sustained contribution to the published literature. The intent of the award is to encourage mastery of subject and contributions to the scholarly literature in one's field.
His mentorship, advising and pro bono work alone is enough to have merited gratitude, having worked in those capacities alone for 20-30 hours a week for what Dr. Desselle described as many hours per week for well over a decade.
His contributions don’t end there, nor do they end at America’s borders.
Aside from writing the book – literally – on pharmacy instruction and research, Dr. Desselle has also been active in travelling the globe to share knowledge with colleagues and students around the world, in part helping pharmacy professionals and students reach a broader audience for their theories, research and data.
Dr. Desselle travelled last year as a Fulbright Specialist to Kosovo and just recently returned from a similar trip to Italy. In fact, he embarked on a short vacation in mid-July and said it was, “the first time in 12 years where I’ve taken a trip and didn’t pack a blazer or slacks,” he said.
Along with the students at Touro, Dr. Desselle works with international students, with two PhD candidates of his living in Estonia and Finland.
|We All Scream...
Returning students capped orientation festivities with an ice cream social, Aug. 6, in The Grove. Staff and faculty dished out gallons of ice cream, complete with sauces, toppings, whipped cream, and a bright red cherry.
“Because I have such an active research program, I can have sometimes as many as 10 or 15 students working with me on research projects,” Dr. Desselle said. Some students, in fact, can graduate from Touro with as many as three to five research publishing credits. “That’s usually how many you’d have if you wanted to apply as an associate professor, and these students have that when they graduate,” Dr. Desselle said.
While his background is well-suited to help students in their final years of academic progress, Dr. Desselle is also thoughtful about his first-year students.
Some of his recent research demonstrated, for example, how students who took handwritten notes fared better than students who used laptops to take in-class notes.
“I don’t know if it’s Facebook or websites or maybe just the clacking of the keys, but there is a significant difference,” Dr. Desselle said.
He even theorized that the handwritten note takers might have performed even better than they did had they been isolated from the laptop users. He plans to offer his students a laptop-free zone this year to see if there is any additional improvement.
Dr. Desselle’s work might have garnered him awards and international recognition, which is beneficial to his students, but the one thing it hasn’t let that go to his head.
“I don’t pretend to have all the answers,” Dr. Desselle said. “An overinflated ego becomes a tool not of helpfulness and development of others, but rather, potentially one of malice and greed.”
|Isabelle Haller, DO, COM Class of 2007|
When Dr. Isabelle Haller graduated from Touro University California, half of the school’s programs didn’t exist. Her COM program hadn’t yet been around for a full decade and there was a sense of being a real pioneer.
“I didn’t really know a lot about it. I knew it was unusual,” Dr. Haller said. And unusual could describe Dr. Haller’s route into medicine.
Having worked as a pediatrician for nearly a decade now, her path to being a physician wasn’t so clearly laid out early on.
After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in molecular cellular development, Dr. Haller went to work for a biotech firm for three years. There was something missing during that stretch of time – people.
As is the case for so many students, Touro University offered Dr. Haller a non-traditional pathway into a career in medicine.
“When I got accepted, I just decided to go for it,” Dr. Haller said.
She wasn’t done with that non-traditional sensation even when deciding on a career in pediatrics.
“I didn’t really think I’d go into pediatrics,” Dr. Haller said. That opinion changed during a rotation as part of her residency at USC. The pediatrician she worked with at USC had a passion for his patients, she said, and she realized, “it seemed that I had a much more profound impact than in my other rotations.”
That profound impact has not gone unnoticed as Dr. Haller was recently honored with a Local Hero Service award at Kaiser-Vallejo.
Those chosen for the award can be nominated by anyone and are selected as outstanding from among all of the employees working at the sprawling Vallejo hospital campus.
“It came as a bit of a shock,” Dr. Haller said. “It’s really quite an honor.”
In the end, it all comes back to what drew her into medicine in the first place – people.
“(Vallejo) is a great community,” she said. “I have really awesome patients.”
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