In this Issue

Some tips on staying safe for returning to school

GSOE student’s research looks into the nurture of nature

Yu named Student Researcher of the Year

TUC professor aids in ‘POP AART’ project

College of Pharmacy Empathy Training

Giveaway helps clear the air for area residents



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Omicron Tips

Some tips on staying safe on returning to school

With school starting back, it’s common for parents and students to have some anxiety about a return to the classroom, especially with the rise of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Here are some simple and effective ways to keep you and your children safe provided by College of Osteopathic Medicine Dean, Dr. Tami Hendriksz, who is a practicing Pediatrician.

Upgrade masks – we have learned that a simple cloth mask does not offer enough protection

  • Everyone should be wearing at least a 3-ply surgical mask (your child can wear their favorite cloth mask on top of that)
  • KN95, N95, and KF94 masks can have an even better fit and different materials that better prevent tiny particles from getting into your child’s nose and mouth
  • Ensure that the mask fits snugly on your child’s face without gaping open at the sides, nose, or chin
  • Test the fit by having your child put on glasses or sunglasses with their mask – if the glasses get fogged up or they can feel air escaping, it's not a good fit.

Ensure that the family is fully vaccinated against COVID-19

  • Vaccines are available for everyone ages 5 years and up
  • Booster vaccines were just approved for the 12–15-year age group (as well as the prior approval for individuals aged 16 years and older)

Ensure that the family is fully vaccinated against influenza

  • Not only does this decrease their chances of getting the flu, but a recent study showed that the influenza vaccine has the potential to provide vital protection against severe effects of COVID-19

Keep children home when they are sick

  • If your children have nasal congestion, fever, cough, runny nose, stomachache, diarrhea, or are in other way feeling “under the weather”, keep them home until they feel better.  This will help to decrease the spread of COVID-19 as well as all of the other bugs that children catch in school settings.

Get your children tested

  • Many school districts have access to rapid COVID-19 tests – the more individuals who get tested, the better we can prevent the spread of COVID-19

Teach your children good hand hygiene

  • Encourage your children to wash their hands properly (scrubbing for >20 seconds) before they eat, after they have been playing on shared equipment like a playground, after they use the restroom, etc.
  • Soap and water is best, but if that's not available your child can clean their hands with hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol

GSOE student’s research looks into the nurture of nature

Melissa DavisPeople from certain generations are probably familiar with the urging of a parent to “go outside and play.”

The research of one Graduate School of Education student, Melissa Davis, aims to determine whether there might have been something beneficial to that. Her focus is on what’s called Social Emotional Learning, (SEL).

Davis earned her teaching credential through Touro in 2016 and now, as a Master’s student in the Innovative Learning program, she finds herself at a perfect, albeit trying, intersection for research.

“My research is based around social emotional learning, the curriculum that I use, and studying students’ behaviors in varying environments,” Davis said, meaning in a classroom setting – or a virtual setting more recently – or outdoors learning in nature.

After working a few years in Alternative Education settings, Davis has seen the need for this type of educational exposure directly.

“I see the need and the rising numbers of student populations in the continuation school settings and realized that SEL curriculum is an absolute necessity for this population of students,” Davis said.

And this isn’t something Davis knows about simply from academic ventures. Growing up in Alaska and Washington, being “outdoorsy” is less of an option and more of a necessity of life. While the Napa Valley where she works is certainly scenic, natural settings are still somewhat out of reach for many students.

“I don’t think students here in northern California are fortunate enough to be immersed in outdoor education,” she said. “Although the resources and beautiful nature is around us, how do we get these kids outside? The digital world is coming at us at such a pace, it’s hard to keep up with. So I am not interested in screen time vs. outside time, I am interested in building bright futures by gaining student awareness to their own mental health and the benefits of both nature and digital immersed learning.”

The impact on student mental health has only been exacerbated by COVID-19. Many students are struggling with the mental health stresses the pandemic has cause, making this research vitally important to Davis.

“I have found that prioritizing my students’ mental health is just as important as subject and content matter,” Davis said. “I have noticed an increase of sadness, depression, addiction and a lack of overall well-being. My students are the marginalized and disenfranchised students of the upper valley, therefore it is my moral duty and responsibility to put them first and give them an equitable opportunity to understand social emotional learning and how to build healthy lifestyles that they can carry into their future.”

Yu named Student Researcher of the Year

Touro University’s Student Researcher of the Year Selection Committee named Student-Doctor Colburn Yu as the Student Researcher of the Year.

Student Researcher of the YearAccording to a release issued by the committee, Yu, has demonstrated a commitment to research by partaking in multiple research programs throughout his academic career. “He displays extraordinary levels of enthusiasm and scientific curiosity along with a high degree of professionalism and a great work ethic,” the release stated.

A second-year medical student at TUC, Yu completed his undergraduate work at Johns Hopkins University before being accepted to Touro.

“My experiences there (JHU) have motivated me to pursue a career in pediatric hematology/oncology,” Yu said. “In addition, I hope to increase DO presence in research fields, making it a welcoming place for all. This award means a lot to me and I want to thank my mentors and friends for their support throughout my pre-med and medical career.”

Along with his personal accomplishments within the research domain, he has strived to become an excellent ambassador for research within the osteopathic profession.

Yu will now be competing for the national SROY award alongside the respective winners from each D.O. school across the nation.

Honorable mentions for other nominees of the SROY Award: Sarah Nolte, Dylan Loquist, Duke Bayardorj, and Alex Carbonel.

TUC professor aids in ‘POP AART’ project

Representation matters, even in a diagram in a textbook. 

Touro University California (TUC) Assistant Professor Dr. Theodore C. Smith will be assisting in a project meant to demonstrate greater representation of physical traits in anatomy instruction. The project is being funded by The American Association for Anatomy (AAA).

TUC's College of Osteopathic Medicine Dean Dr. Tami Hendriksz expressed her support for Dr. Smith and this effort.

"I am incredibly proud of Dr. Theo Smith and his commitment to bring diversity and inclusion into the medical education landscape. This particular project aims to develop an accessible digital library of anatomical images that fully represent all patient populations," Dr. Hendriksz said. "This will help to add clear diversity to the current anatomical images which tend to be of pale-skinned, muscular, male subjects. In this way our student doctors will be able to learn anatomy on a set of subjects that better represent their future patients."

AAA has funded a program entitled Portfolios of People: Advancing Anatomical Representation Together (POP AART). The POP AART program aims to address a lack of open-access anatomy teaching visual supplements that are representative of human diversity.

Most anatomical imagery currently available features pale-skinned, muscular, male subjects. Additionally, many of these images are either copyright-protected or owned by publishers, greatly limiting the availability of affordable visual supplements for anatomy instructors.

POP AART will combat these issues by creating an accessible digital library of representative photographs and illustrations of diverse individuals. The portfolio will include self-identified narratives from models, illustrators, and photographers.

“This project is just a small step towards addressing the inequities in anatomical education,” adds team member, Dr. Theodore Smith, “While much work is still yet to be done, representation within anatomical content, whether for patient or professional education, is a vital step.”

Work on the project will begin in January 2022 and will continue through December 2023.

“I am beyond thrilled to be on the POP AART team and know that this project will provide essential resources for our membership and beyond,” says team member Dr. Kelly Harrell. “I am grateful for AAA’s full support of this project and the Association’s ongoing, intentional efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion work within anatomical science education, research and service.”

Empathy Training

First-year College of Pharmacy students had the opportunity to experience some of the difficulties their future patients will experience during empathy training in late November.

The training sessions, guided by Dr. Shane Desselle and Dr. Terri Wong and aimed at allowing the students to experience auditory impairment, to experience what patients with hearing loss encounter; dexterity impairment to experience the troubles of people with arthritis, hand tremors and similar problems; and gait/mobility impairment, where students used vision impairment glasses, knee restraints, ankle weights, walkers, and crutches to simulate the experiences of people with movement restrictions.

Empathy Training Empathy Training Empathy Training

College of Pharmacy students appear on Pharmacy Times podcast "Study Break"

Anu Tirupasur and Madison Kim appeared on Pharmacy Time's podcast "Study Break" to talk about their involvement in TUC's Budding Scholars Student Organization (BSSO).  BSSO was started by TUC faculty member Dr. Shane Desselle to help prepare students for careers in academia and/or research.

Listen to the podcast (Starts at 17:50 minutes)

Study Break Podcast

Giveaway helps clear the air for area residents

With cold temperatures and rainfall in the previous few weeks, summer wildfires might seem like a distant memory.

The impact from those fires aren’t necessarily gone for your lungs.

Touro University partners, in coordination with Dr. Trina Mackie, Associate Professor with TUC’s Public Health Program and Dr. Lisa May Norton, Dean of the College of Education and Health Sciences, and funding from Solano Community Foundation, helped distribute 125 air purifiers at Grace Patterson Elementary in November to help address what is becoming a public health issue of increasing proportions.

Air purifier giveaway“Air quality from wildfires and other sources of pollution in Vallejo has long lasting impacts on community health, but young children are particularly at risk from asthma, asthma complications, and other respiratory illness.,” Dr. Mackie said.

The giveaway was one of the largest for TUC volunteers. Previous events had given away roughly a dozen purifiers, but revised communication with the community in partnership with Principal at Grace Patterson Elementary school allowed increased that level ten-fold.

“The air quality here (Vallejo) is one of the worst in California and wildfire smoke has definitely exasperated this and that’s why we received the grant funds from Solano Community Foundation. If we can get air purifiers in the bedrooms and homes of children it can really protect young lungs from asthma and other respiratory illnesses throughout the course of their lifetimes,” said Dr. Lisa Norton, Dean of the College of Education and Health Sciences.

Touro volunteers, along with those from Common Ground, Fresh Air Vallejo, Solano Community Foundation, and Diaz & Loera Centro Latino assisted during the event at Grace Patterson.

“We are so grateful for this partnership and the support of students and families within our community. Dr. Lisa Norton and Dr. Trina Mackie were instrumental in making this event happen and I could not appreciate them and their support of Grace Patterson students any more than I already do,” said Megan De La Mater, Grace Patterson’s Principal.