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Queens Resident Receives Award From Touro College

July 19, 2017

When Dr. Payal Aggarwal, DO, was just six years old, she visited her grandfather in India in the hospital. He had cancer and she told him the experience of their visits made her want to become a doctor when she grew up. “He said nothing would make him happier,” Aggarwal recalled in a recent interview.

She began volunteering at age 10 for the American Cancer Society. Fast forward to last month, when her dream became reality – she donned a cap and gown at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and joined the graduating class of Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM). Last Saturday she began her residency at Brooklyn Hospital in pediatrics.

“I hope to pursue pediatric oncology, so I was thrilled to match into pediatrics! I can’t wait to see what the future has in store,” she said.

Pediatric oncology entered the picture for Aggarwal after volunteering at a camp for children diagnosed with cancer, Camp Happy Days, an experience that she wrote about in The DO magazine.

The camp would be one on a long list of challenging volunteer experiences the young doctor would take on during her journey to earning her doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree.

Dr. Aggarwal’s contributions were so numerous and achievements so exceptional that TouroCOM awarded her its highest honor at commencement, “Student DO of the Year,” for her outstanding service to the school, her leadership, research and dedication to the profession.

Queens Gazette

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Doctor’s Killing at Bronx Hospital Called a ‘Monumental Loss’

July 02, 2017

She was not supposed to be working on Friday at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, making afternoon rounds on the 17th floor. Dr. Tracy Sin-Yee Tam usually worked in a ground-level family medicine clinic, where she would treat patients from the hospital’s South Bronx neighborhood.

But those who knew Dr. Tam were not surprised to learn what she was doing inside the hospital when the authorities said a gunman, a disgruntled former doctor there, opened fire, killing Dr. Tam and wounding six others before killing himself.

Another doctor had needed his shift covered. Dr. Tam volunteered.

“She would never say no,” Jude Beckles-Ross, 46, a friend of Dr. Tam’s, said through tears on Sunday outside the doctor’s home in Queens.

She was early in her career, but Dr. Tam, 32, had already established a reputation for being caring and conscientious in a way that those around her found remarkable, even in a field built on caring for others that requires intense commitment.

Dr. Tam, whose father drives a taxi in Queens, had struggled to make it into medical school, but mentors and colleagues said she had plenty of options when she graduated. Again and again, she chose to work in demanding environments in neighborhoods of New York City where people had limited access to medical care, places that few young doctors enthusiastically pursue.

At Bronx-Lebanon, about 70 percent of the patients are on Medicaid, and physicians regularly assume a role that goes beyond physical care, helping patients address family disputes or emotional issues, said Dr. Sridhar Chilimuri, Bronx-Lebanon’s physician in chief. The atmosphere can chip away at a young doctor’s idealism, he said, yet he was impressed by how strongly Dr. Tam, who had been an attending doctor at the hospital for a year, held fast to hers.

“Training young physicians to be doctors is an extraordinarily difficult thing,” Dr. Chilimuri said. “Making them idealistic, and also do exactly what we’re doing, is just impossible.” He added, “To lose somebody like that now is really a monumental loss for us.”

Dr. Tam was in one of the earliest classes to enroll at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, a medical school that had its first graduating class in 2011. The school occupies an old department store building in Harlem, across 125th Street from the Apollo Theater. Much of the student body comes from New York City, said Martin Diamond, the college’s founding dean, and its mission is to recruit minorities into medicine and to train and encourage students to work in locations that were historically underserved.

Dr. Tam started at Touro in a master’s degree program, which provided a one-year window to make it into medical school, but required students to maintain a high grade-point average. “This was a good avenue for us,” said Jennifer Dorcé-Medard, a friend who practices family medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “A better chance and a second chance for us to achieve our dreams.”

The New York Times

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Harlem Patients Share Their Stories With Future Docs, Dr. Jeffrey Gardere And Others

May 06, 2017

Patients who have struggled in the past with medical and mental health challenges, and who live in the Harlem community, came to Touro on Wednesday, May 3rd 2017, to speak with medical and pharmacy students about their experiences being treated in nursing homes, prisons and other facilities. The interactive exchange was part of an annual course event organized by Dr. Jeffrey Gardere, an assistant professor at Touro Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine in cooperation with Touro College of Pharmacy, aimed at helping Touro’s future physicians and pharmacists become empathic, respectful practitioners who put patient needs first. “Make sure you check the meds and know what [condition] the patient has,” said Biener Liranzo, seated far left, who lived seven years in a nursing home. “It’s about saving someone’s life,” said David Gonzalez, seated far right, who was incarcerated in jails and prisons for over 30 years, but who has successfully rehabilitated himself. “The medical units in jails are often substandard,” said Gonzales. The students listened attentively. “They said that ultimately they know the most about themselves, which is true,” observed second year pharm student Sheba Ajmal. Fellow pharm student, Adriana Burbridge, added: “People have preconceived notions. ‘You’re a prisoner so you did something horrible.’ You have to treat them as another human being, equal to you not less than you.”

Harlem World Magazine

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