In this Issue
Fresh on Facebook
June 1, 2020
Dear TUC Community,
We join you in your heartbreak surrounding the death of George Floyd at the hands of members of the Minneapolis police. We cannot imagine the devastation this has caused Mr. Floyd’s family and his community and our hearts go out to them during these immensely difficult times. We recognize that the impacts of George Floyd’s death are far reaching. We also recognize that this is not an isolated incident. We know that it is all too familiar of an experience for people of color in the United States historically and in 2020. As such, we stand in solidarity with our communities of color who experience marginalization and injustice as a result of institutionalized and systemic racism.
Like many of you, we at Touro University California are angry and grief-stricken with the events that took place surrounding this appalling death. There is no explanation for such actions and the blatant disregard that has been shown for the life of a person of color. Acts of racism and violence contradict our core commitment to social justice and underscore the need for all of us to join together in addressing matters of institutionalized racism and injustice.
We can do better as a society to protect all members of our community, and higher education plays a vital role in leading this work. We firmly believe you are all a valuable part of that mission. We understand the importance of partnering with our community to pursue justice for all members of our society and to advocate for those who are experiencing inequality. We will continue to work together in partnership with our communities in the pursuit of justice. It is up to each and every one of us to stand against racism wherever it occurs. We encourage you to turn to your families, friends, spiritual practices, and communities.
In difficult times, as a Touro Community we have always found ways to partner together to express our grief, anger, and helplessness and to find ways to support and advocate for change. We will continue to partner with you in the fight for social justice moving forward and are planning to host a Virtual Vigil on Thursday, June 4, 2020, from noon to 1 p.m. Visit the event website for more information and to join.
As we end the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, a holiday that marks Moses receiving the 10 Commandments at Mt. Sinai, we are reminded that we are never alone. We are called to put into action the Judaic value at the foundation of Touro University California – a respect for the inherent value and dignity of each individual.
Sarah M. Sweitzer, PhD
Provost and Chief Academic Officer
Touro University California
A Match Made at Touro
Harpreet and Kevin Tsui, Doctors from the College of Osteopathic Medicine Class of 2008
In all of the rich history of TUC’s Mare Island Campus, it had likely never been the set of a Bollywood-style movie until Harpreet and Kevin Tsui, DOs from the Class of 2008, took the campus by storm one quiet weekend in 2011 to record a video for their wedding party.
|Harpreet and Kevin Tsui, COM 2008|
“It was a total spoof!” said Harpreet. “And it was great because our friends from our class came up. We were running down the hallways; it was so fun.”
Memories from their time as students come back easily to the couple who met sitting across from each other in class.
“At anatomy lab, she was at the cadaver next to me, and it was probably my impersonation of Dr. Hartwig that got her,” Kevin said winking before doing the impression. “‘Always within, never through.’”
“It was the greatest four years of my life. I don’t know how else to put it,” summarized Harpreet.
Setting up practice in Las Vegas wasn’t the plan that either doctor had for themselves during medical school. Both were set on going through residency in the Bay Area, and both were shocked on Match Day when they didn’t successfully match to a residency.
“In my whole life, I have been, ‘If I do A, B, and C, then I will get what I want,’” said Harpreet. “And then on match day, I woke up, and I didn’t get what I want. And I was devastated.”
Luckily, she still had an open offer at Valley Hospital Medical Center in Las Vegas, but she would only take it if Kevin could come too. They interviewed him on the spot and he was accepted.
“(Not matching) ended up being the best mistake that ever happened,” said Kevin.
Going through three years of residency together brought the couple closer. Still, it wasn’t until their third year while Kevin was chief resident that they managed their first team together. It only led to conflict.
“We’re so different in what we do,” said Harpreet. “I do outpatient internal medicine. I sit down, talk to patients, get to know their family. Kevin is an Intensivist. He goes in guns blazing, doing procedures and saving lives. So the mode in which we both do internal medicine is so different. I think we both realized very quickly that it wasn’t good for us!”
|Harpreet and Kevin Tsui, COM 2008|
Today, the pair balances work and family together with disparate schedules. Kevin is gone from morning to dinner on 12-hour workdays, leaving him only two weekends a month at home. Harpreet works part-time and close to home with six hour days, leaving her time to manage home and children along with the help of Kevin’s mom, who lives with them.
“On the weekends when he’s home, I say, ‘Take your kids! I’m never coming back!’” she joked.
More than just a special part of what binds the couple together, humor and finding reasons to laugh is something that grounds the two doctors’ approaches to medicine.
“(With patients,) I’m just one of their friends trying to give advice on something I was trained on,” explained Kevin. “…I go into a room, and I have 20 seconds to make an impression on somebody to say, ‘I’m not the bad guy; I’m here to help.’”
“I think a lot of that came from being at Touro from the professors we had at that time, and the school was still kind of new,” added Harpreet. “They taught us the importance of building that relationship and really getting to know the people you’re going to treat.
“In anatomy lab, I remember being doubled over laughing in every single lab,” she continued. “It was just a different vibe on campus, and we took that with us to Vegas and into practice.”
It’s a connection that they carry through themselves by mentoring students on rotation from Touro University Nevada, whom Kevin likes to chide for not being from TUC like himself.
“It just meant so much to me, being at Touro. It’s just such an integral part of who I am, even though it was such a long time ago,” said Harpreet.
When COVID-19 upended daily life and put the world’s health in jeopardy, many of TUC’s students embarking on careers in medicine had a strong desire to help, but not yet the degree to provide it safely. As TUC transitioned to emergency remote operations in March, faculty and students from the three colleges formed the Touro Student Service Corps to give students a safe way to get involved
|The Student Service Corps gathered remotely on Zoom|
The corps leadership meets weekly to ensure that volunteer opportunities are safe and ready to receive student aid. They also get the word out to community organizations and hospitals throughout the state so that others know Touro students are ready to serve.
“Many haven’t heard anything like this from other schools, and they really appreciate the support,” said student representative and fourth year fellow in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Katherine Farley.
The group hopes that other universities will follow their model, which found inspiration from the student assistance that Columbia University has provided in hard-hit New York.
The Student Service Corps has three primary rules. First, students do not receive educational credit for volunteering. Second, PPE must be available along with training for its proper use. Third, there must be a way to monitor and perform site visits for the students who are deployed.
“It’s not necessarily our responsibility as students to be on the frontline swabbing noses,” explained Ms. Farley. “But everyone is doing what they can to relieve the system.”
Low risk activities are paired to students who have either not yet had clinical experience or are personally at-risk to COVID-19.
In total, volunteers have donated over 500 hand sewn masks throughout the Bay Area to essential workers and healthcare facilities. Thirty-five students have also provided phone tracing in Napa and Solano County, giving additional follow-up for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 so that individuals truly understand the importance of staying isolated and have the necessary support in place.
Students volunteering in clinical settings are still kept from locations where COVID-19 testing is performed, though PPE must be available for the student in case of incidental exposure.
In San Joaquin County, DO and PA students provide follow up and take patient history through telehealth. Others lend a helping hand behind the scenes at clinics in Oakland and at Vallejo’s La Clinica Transitions Clinic. By managing supplies, the volunteers help maintain the safety nets for those who need it when other locations still remain closed.
The experience has been eye-opening for all involved where students from the different colleges of Touro can work together in an interprofessional setting.
“It’s been an absolutely new experience for me,” said first year Joint MSPAS/MPH student Nicole Cheng, and student representative on the committee. “It’s been interesting and a little nerve wracking to be at the table where people make decisions, but it’s really humbling to see how much work goes into making sure that students are safe and have the opportunities to volunteer in the community.”
“I’ve learned more about the students and other colleges at Touro in the past month than in all my four years of being involved in various committees,” added Ms. Farley.
Classrooms Where Students Stand in the Spotlight
|Dr. Jim O'Connor, Director of the Center for Innovative Learning and Teaching|
Classes at TUC are moving closer to flip teaching, thanks to a special course that faculty can take through the Center for Innovative Learning and Teaching (CILT).
“Now, the focus is on a lot more active learning techniques, not passive,” explained Dr. Jim O’Connor, CILT Director. “Students have to be engaged.”
Flipped teaching puts the classroom focus on the learner rather than the teacher. By saving lecture content for material that can be viewed ahead of class, actual face-to-face time is left for open discussion and problem-solving.
To learn and try out new flipped teaching techniques, 30 TUC faculty have taken the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) course through CILT in the past two years along with 40 of their peers at Touro University Nevada.
“In the past, I’d stand in front and give quiz questions, and I felt the class wasn’t engaged,” said Alesia Wagner, DO, Associate Professor of Primary Care in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. “I changed to a fishbowl technique of picking four names each session. The students had to choose the correct answer and explain why it was correct and the other 4 distractors (wrong answers) were incorrect. It allowed them to engage better.”
She saw the students begin to applaud each other’s ingenuity or spend more time plumbing out the reasons why an answer was wrong. Students across the program have also taken to the more Socratic approach. Two of the three student-chosen COM Faculty of the Year have also completed the ACUE course.
In the Joint MSPAS/MPH Program, Darcie Larimore-Arenas, PA-C, MPH, didn’t expect to have to put the ACUE module on remote learning to use so soon, but its guidance on conducting discussion boards and using tech platforms for concept mapping has really given her students the chance to easily spark ideas off of each other, she said.
“I’ve seen students who don’t typically speak up contribute more in class by utilizing these different platforms,” Ms. Larimore-Arenas recalled. “On it, people can really be clever, funny, or cute.”
The perspective and support from ACUE has been transformative, doing much to amplify her engagements with students.
“There’d be times when I knew something wasn’t right with a class, but I wasn’t 100% sure how to repair it,” said Ms. Larimore-Arenas. “They make it seem like such a simple thing that I couldn’t see before. It really helps you see the forest for the trees.”
Handmade and Life-saving: NHPA Gives 300 Masks
As the country tries to piece together what returning back to normal means after two months of social distancing, Touro’s National Hispanic Pharmacists Association (NHPA) is helping keep others safe by giving a gift of 200 hand sewn cloth masks to the College of Pharmacy and two local rehabilitation centers. And another 100 is set to be delivered to more Solano nursing facilities this week.
|Drs. Carlo Bejarano and Veronica Madrigal, COP Class of 2020, Donating Masks|
“It is often when days seem the most frustrating that I am reminded at the generosity of spirit and kindness that many if not all of our students possess,” remarked Rolly Kali-Rai, PharmD, Assistant Dean of Student Services.
At the onset of shelter-in-place, NHPA members wrote and disseminated useful COVID-19 information in Spanish and 22 other languages. But when over 100 healthcare workers and residents were infected at a Vallejo nursing home in May, NHPA got sewing.
Signs like “wear mask before entering” and “leave packages outside” greeted the students as they dropped off of the much-appreciated support at Springs Road Healthcare and Heartwood Avenue Healthcare.
“(They) expressed a compelling need for masks, as they were constantly having to wash and re-use masks at their facilities,” said Veronica Madrigal, PharmD, who recently graduated with the College of Pharmacy Class of 2020.
As efforts to reopen begin, Ms. Madrigal stressed caution with the hope that others do not forget their new habits.
“People should continue to wash their cloth masks regularly as they are being used for preventing the individual from spreading germs rather than preventing the individual from acquiring germs from others,” she explained.
“Also, the reopening of California does not mean we are in the clear,” she added.
“As individual counties open, please remember to continue to thoroughly wash hands
with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, keep a safe distance from others, and continue
to wear masks out in public. If we all work together, we can stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Congratulations to the Classes of 2020!
With the help of technology, the commencements of the College of Pharmacy and College
of Osteopathic Medicine reunited the classes who in the past four years have endured
didactics, rotations, and now COVID-19.
Held virtually with guests’ safety in mind on May 26 and 27 respectively, the ceremonies
celebrated a bright outlook on the influence that the new graduates will have on the
world around them, their faculty knowing all too well the accomplishments that brought
the graduates to this point.
“Though I feel 'virtual' isn’t quite right. Maybe graduation of innovation. Pioneers, you very much are (graduates of innovation),” reflected College of Pharmacy Keynote Speaker Daniel Ford, PharmD, Pharmacy Clinical Practice Manager and Residency Program Director for NorthBay Healthcare. “And this won’t be the last that you tread into the unknown.”
The opportunity for change and new growth was seized by the new physicians, pharmacists, and Masters of Medical Health Sciences as well.
“The world as we know it has been renamed,” said Class Speaker Roman Roque, DO/MPH. “Let us relieve the suffering and change the narrative so that when the dust settles, we’ll step into a brave new world that works not just for some, but for all of us.”
With gusto and good humor, the College of Osteopathic Medicine class and faculty attempted a live group recitation of the Osteopathic Oath, which resounded in a cacophony over Zoom.
“That oath is so fantastically representative of your class, what you go through, the diligence, the perseverance, and just the beauty that comes out of everything,” said Tami Hendriksz, DO, Associate Dean of Clinical Education.
Leading the Master of Science in Medical Health Sciences ceremony, Alan Miller, PhD, encouraged as much cheering for the graduates as possible, taking pauses so that the separated graduates could hear the swell of joy and support that they had in others.
In the College of Education and Health Sciences, degrees have been conferred as their commencement ceremonies are postponed to June and July. For an updated schedule, visit here.
Preparing Mentally and Physically to Head Back Into a “New Normal”
Melody Reyes, PA-C, MPH
How to Cope with Anxiety About Returning to Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Jasmine Singh, DO
Take time to reflect
We’ve all had a shift in our schedules and lives; take time to reflect on how this experience has changed us. It has given us time to reassess our values and priorities —to slow down, practice gratitude, venture into new hobbies, accept impermanence and uncertainty, and ultimately question what it is to be fundamentally human.
There is no right or wrong way to feel
Maintain healthy habits
Keep an open dialogue with your employer and colleagues
Various questions could come up about returning to work, such as: Are the guidelines provided as options or mandatory? Could work shifts be staggered to reduce the number of people at work at one time? Could in person meetings be reduced or even replaced with virtual meetings? Will mask wearing be enforced? Get your questions answered to ease your anxiety about returning to work.
Acceptance of the uncertainty
Think of what you will gain
Keep up with your mental healthcare
My Final Record
|Nicholas Crawford, Publications and Projects Coordinator|
This issue marks my 51st and final Record. Thank you for keeping up with the many stories and features that have strived to put the best of Touro in the spotlight that it deserves.
Touro is a special place, and getting to explore and share that fact each day has been a joy and a privilege for me.
The character of this university is something cemented in every student, faculty, staff, and alumnus/a. The people here are the kind who jump in with both feet. They aren’t daunted by a challenge or satisfied with the way things have always been. They get involved and get to work so that things can be better for people they don’t know.
I look forward to continuing to keep up with Touro, now just as a reader. But luckily my wife is one of these special Touro people too—an alumna of the Joint MSPAS/MPH Program. And that honest, caring, unstoppable spark that I’ve seen in so many of the people I’ve interviewed is something I get to cherish each day in her.
Thank you for reading, and stay tuned like me for what’s ahead!
Before graduating with the Joint MSPAS/MPH Class of 2020, new alumnus Marcus Chen conducted the first public health field study with transgender populations at the Kaiser Permanente Napa-Solano Family Medicine Residency Public Health Research Internship Program. Sifting through medical data and statistical analysis to understand the health status of the population, he found a number of health disparities. He found that 71.4% of transgender patients had at least one diagnosis of anxiety, depression, or adjustment disorder. In comparison, the prevalence of psychological distress in both Solano County and California are both under 10%.
|Marcus Chen, MSPAS, MPH, CEHS Class of 2020 with his preceptor|
To address the gaps in care, Mr. Chen developed a plan to train resident physicians and measure the effectiveness that will now be implemented by the residency.
His research can be accessed here
What needs to be done to improve health care for transgender patients?
This population as a whole is very medically underserved. They face systematic barriers that impede their access to health and wellness at all levels. There are struggles with high rates of discrimination in schools and at work, mental health issues, substance abuse, HIV infection, and more.
They live in fear whether their medical provider will be respectful and knowledgeable on their healthcare needs. Unfortunately, traditional medical school curriculum has not taught transgender medicine which compounds the problem.
Improving healthcare for transgender & gender nonconforming (TGNC) patients requires a concerted effort to address barriers at many levels, spanning from medical education to insurance reform to modifications to electronic health records.
What motivates you to rectify patient care for this population?
I was motivated by how many times I heard derogatory, misguided, or uneducated statements spoken about this population by healthcare workers in a wide range of clinical settings and specialties I worked/volunteered/shadowed in both prior to and during PA school.. The individuals making these statements were often very well meaning. I realized the problem is education; unfortunately, many people’s exposure to transgender people is through media stereotypes.
What really amazes me and motivates me is seeing real change happening out of this advocacy work. For example, the faculty of my PA/MPH program and some leaders of TUC have taken it upon themselves to incorporate transgender health into the curriculum. I notice much more advocacy occurring all around campus every year.
How have you seen the impact of this work in the clinic?
One physician preceptor asked a patient their preferred pronouns and the patient was so grateful that this was the first time they were asked. My preceptor admitted he had more to learn but it demonstrated the power of education.
This was a powerful patient encounter because for once the patient didn’t have to choose between medical care and being seen for who they are.
Caring about transgender health is about justice and human rights. Healthcare providers can make such a difference for their transgender patients by taking an interest in learning terminology, respecting their name and pronoun, and acquiring enough knowledge so that they don’t need to teach you how to take care of them.
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