June 7, 2017 - The Record

Touro University California Celebrates its 17th Commencement

2017 Commencement

Graduates and their families flocked to the Zellerbach Theater in Berkeley, CA, May 22nd and 23rd for the 17th commencement of Touro University California (TUC). A total of 401 students representing each of the three colleges graduated, ready to embrace promising futures as medical care providers, practitioners of public health, and educators. These ceremonies were held over two days, representing the College of Osteopathic Medicine, the College of Education and Health Sciences, and the College of Pharmacy.  

“Today is truly a celebration of their hard work and dedication to their education and goals,” said Shelley Berkley, CEO and Senior Provost of the Touro Western Division. “At Touro, we are extremely committed to our local communities receiving the very best healthcare providers and educators.”

Shortly into the program, students were given a heartfelt speech by Dr. Alan Kadish, President of the Touro College and University System, who flew across the country to congratulate the future alums. “We know we have set the standard very high for you, and we know you will meet it as those before you have,” he said to a filled auditorium.

This year also marks the final commencement for TUC’s Provost and COO, Dr. Marilyn Hopkins. Dr. Hopkins, who will retire after seven and a half years at TUC, was conferred with emeritus status by the university for her stalwart leadership and commitment to the advancement of Touro students. Dr. Hopkins leaves TUC with more than 39 years administrative and teaching experience in higher education. She is also a licensed Registered Nurse.

“During her 7.5 years at Touro University California, she has changed the landscape of the campus by creating a vision centered on students and their learning experience at this great University,” remarked Senior Provost Berkley.

Dr. Jim O’Connor was also honored with emeritus status for his more than 10 years of service. Dr. O’Connor will step down from Dean for the College of Education and Health Sciences to return to teaching. Under Dr. O’Connor’s leadership, the college grew to four units: the joint Physician Assistant and Public Health program, the Public Health Program, the Graduate School of Education, and the School of Nursing

“Dr. O’Connor has created a welcoming environment and values the strengths of every faculty, staff, and student, and he sees the College of Education and Health Sciences as a family,” commended Dr. Hopkins.

 Guest speakers at the ceremonies included Dr. Ronald Blanck, Lieutenant General U.S. Army, Retired, and Dr. Jessica Nunez de Ybarra, who serves as the Chronic Disease Control Branch Chief in the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Dr. Blanck imparted, “As you work in the ever changing practice environment, remember that medicine rests on values which are fundamental and do not change. These values are: respect for patients and colleagues, honesty in all of your dealings, and selfless service. Patient above self.”

Student speakers included Robin Martin for the College of Osteopathic Medicine; Lisa Gottfried for the Graduate School of Education; Madelyn Garcia of the Public Health Program; Jimmy Bui of the Joint Physician Assistant/Public Health Program; Jason Hebard of the School of Nursing; and Franklin Gough of the College of Pharmacy.

See photos of the ceremony from the College of Osteopathic MedicineCollege of Pharmacy, and College of Education and Health Sciences.


Insight from NorthBay Medical Center Pharmacist Christopher Smith, Pharm. D, COP ‘12

Christopher Smith COP 2012Dr. Christopher R. Smith, Pharm. D, COP ’12, first stepped into clinical practice at NorthBay Medical Center while on an Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPE) rotation through Touro. The early exposure to their clinical program and team based medicine led him to pursue a PGY-1 residency with Dignity Health and a Board Certified Pharmacotherepy Specialist (BCPS) certification post-residency. He has since returned to work with NorthBay as a clinical pharmacist supporting their core pharmacy operations, decentralized ICU and Med-Surg service lines, as well as the outpatient Oncology clinic. He also precepts Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE) students and PGY-1 residents.

What inspires you in your work at NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield?

What makes the pharmacy practice at NorthBay special to me is what the hospital and pharmacy strive to be – the best for their patients and for the Solano community. The pharmacy program is strong and dynamic. In the past four years, I have seen it grow to add support for Trauma patients (NorthBay is now a level II trauma center), provide a pharmacist run transitions of care service, provide pain consults, and have Pharmacists respond to codes.  These changes have challenged me to constantly build on my clinical knowledge and have reinforced the role of a Pharmacist as a lifelong learner. I feel great about the care I provide and in supporting our underserved community.

What challenges do you face each day in hospital-based pharmacy?

I feel the greatest challenge facing hospital-based pharmacy today is mitigating national drug shortages. According to the American-Society of Health System Pharmacists, there have been over 140 new shortages annually over the past decade! This leads to many emergent changes in patient care plans as alternate treatments have to be reviewed for safety and effectiveness for appropriate substitution.

What do you like about working with a larger team of other pharmacists, doctors, etc.?

I was fortunate to start at NorthBay as a new practitioner. Our pharmacy leadership has been very supportive; fostering a collegial spirit amongst the team as well as encouraging advanced education (i.e. over 70% of our pharmacists have a PGY-1 or additional BPS certifications).  This has created an environment that promotes an open and active discussion amongst colleagues towards problem solving.

Working as part of a team with other providers (i.e. physicians, dieticians, mid-levels, case-workers, etc.) has given me a better understanding of each member’s abilities and their role in patient care, which has opened communication that leads to more discussions and earlier interventions. I strongly feel that team based medicine is the optimal practice model and best utilizes Pharmacists advanced education.  

In your personal opinion, what issue in people’s health bothers you the most? What is the solution?

Hands down, the largest health issue on my mind is universal and accessible healthcare. I was first exposed to working with underserved communities as a student pharmacist through an APPE rotation at Clinic Ole in Napa with Dr. Lor. This experience showed me first hand both the personal and health costs that resulted from limited and delayed access to medicine (e.g. not seeking medical care and not being able to afford medications). Fortunately, the clinic found solutions that included receiving grants and community funding, as well as maximizing utilization of prescription assistance programs, to assist those in need.

There is no easy solution to this problem. This is a national problem and a reflection on who we are. I feel the Affordable Care Act and the strong desire to defend it recently in Congress has signaled a cultural shift toward appreciation of universal healthcare. How we get there in the future is uncertain, but today, I feel that community outreach, increased advocacy, and desire to rise together will continue to improve health outcomes for those in need and pave the way to a healthier future.

Script Your Future

Watch the College of Pharmacy's Script Your Future 2017 video, finalist for the National Challenge Award Finalist and the Communication and Media Outreach Award! This year's Script Your Future Team is Ashley Saclolo (P1), Diana Nguyen (P1), Christina Doan (P2), Jimin Lee (P2), Stefanie Navarro (P3), and Timothy Phan (P4).


A New Year at the Student-Run Free Clinic with Executive Director Selene Jamall COM ‘20

Selene Jamall COM 2020What has the new year been like for the SRFC?

Although the transition between the former SRFC board and the current board was initially a little difficult, it has been an exciting challenge in addressing ongoing problems with our own unique perspectives. I am lucky to work with an exceptional leadership team, and we have a very supportive community in the faculty and students at Touro. Their constant dedication through volunteering their time and experience helps us to meet the demand that the clinic faces.

How have you been trying to help the SRFC grow as executive director?

My vision is to make the clinic more than just a place for people to get their immediate problems evaluated. I wanted to see students integrating themselves more within the local community as health advocates, teachers, and leaders. However, I think it’s easy as aspiring healthcare professionals to interface our own ideas of what a clinic should be and overlook what is actually needed. So I’ve been working with leaders within the Vallejo community to see how we can address social determinants of health for our target population in the hopes of closing much needed gaps. 

srfc 2017Thankfully, I’ve been so fortunate to be surrounded by an inspiring group of student leaders who share this goal. Together, we are currently working to integrate structured wellness programs and further expand on the preventative health services we currently offer in addition to Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine. Some of my personal goals are to add an extra day per week that we can offer clinic and to offer STD and STI screening in response to the increased incidence of gonorrhea and chlamydia in Vallejo over the past few years.

What inspires you to be involved in a local clinic in addition to your studies?

I am a former student of the MSMHS-COM program at Touro, and I knew since that year that if I was accepted into the COM program, I wanted to be part of SRFC leadership. As much as I am grateful to Touro for all the opportunities it has afforded me, I always felt that as students, we were sort of tucked away out of sight on this island. I felt disengaged from the rest of the city of Vallejo. When I took over the Executive Director position and started attending Vallejo community events to get a feel for what SRFC’s presence could be, I was overwhelmed and humbled by the reception. Even when all we can offer is educational material and reassurance that we are there to serve the community, people are so happy to see health science students out there and engaged.

That inspires me to try to offer more than what we have been doing. I know that there are always the problems of time, money, ‘red tape’, and simple logistics, but the sheer gratefulness of the community for literally anything we can offer makes me want to give them everything possible. I think it’s easy for young medical, pharmacy, nursing, physician assistant students, etc. to feel like “they don’t know anything yet”. What we don’t always realize is that not only is that not true, but that just by being in these fields, we already have an innate desire to show up and help. Most of the time that is more immediately valuable than the knowledge, which of course will come with time. 

What made you choose the path of osteopathic medicine?

I was first introduced to osteopathic medicine when I had the good fortune of shadowing Dr. Riemer, now our Senior Assistant Dean, as a premedical student in 2014. I was and continue to be inspired by his compassion and unyielding dedication to patient care. I now understand, through my own brief experience, how that approach to medicine could have only been strengthened by an osteopathic-focused education. 

To me, studying osteopathic medicine means being able to provide my future patients not only with at least some degree of pain relief from their first visit, but also the ability to assess and validate their health concerns in a way that they might not otherwise experience. Pain can be nebulous, elusive, and multifactorial, and those qualities make it easy to be dismissive in diagnosis. By learning how to recognize the many different ways that somatic dysfunction manifests itself, I hope to earn my future patient’s trust that they are seeing a physician who sees them in their entirety. 

Selene Jamall is a first-year medical student at Touro University California who currently serves as the Executive Director for the Touro Student-Run Free Clinic. In her free (read: not always free) time, she enjoys singing, running, and enjoying time with her classmates.

For more on the Student-Run Free Clinic, visit here.

Our Staff: Employee Appreciation Day Committee

Our Staff Employee Appreciation Day CommitteeCome one, come all to the main employee event of the summer where the feature attraction is you! This year’s Employee Appreciation Day brings the Carnival to TUC. The event is put on by a world class committee, all of whom are putting their hidden talents into making this year an event for the ages!

Have your fortune told by the mysterious Kathy Lowe! Gasp at the great feats of Pawan Sahota, Lion Tamer! Laugh at the antics of Charity Yamada, Clown Car Passenger Number 7! Witness the death defying Brigit Perez on the tightrope! And behold the acrobats Marie Miller and Rachel Ybanez as they soar like birds on the trapeze!

This year is also no ordinary Employee Appreciation Day, for it marks the first time at TUC that we celebrate the 20th anniversaries of the university’s three longest serving members: Dr. Alejandro Gugliucci, Professor and Associate Dean for Research; Dr. Walter Hartwig, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, and Mr. Alex Perez, Copy and Mail Services Manager.

Come for the games! Water guns, inflatable bowling, and the all-time classic tug-of-war! Test your luck and enter the raffle to win gift cards galore!

When asked just how they do it, Kathy Lowe, Employee Relations & Title IX, Director explains, “The hardest part is coming up with the theme and not repeating what’s been done in the past.”

Previous themes include Western, Mad Hatter, and Superheroes.

“The water theme was the most fun,” recalls Kathy, who has 10 years of experience with the event. “The weather was perfect for water balloons, and the provost at the time got in the dunk tank. I remember Steven Davis chasing down everyone with a water gun. We all got to be just big kids for the day.”

Brigit Perez, Learning Specialist, also got to explain what Employee Appreciation day means to her.

“A lot of people don’t ever get to know or see each other,” she says. “Employee Appreciation Day gives everybody a chance to get to know each other at the end of the year.”

Employee Appreciation day is on June 9, 11:30-1:30 at The Grove.