Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine Grads Serve Underserved
10th Anniversary Event at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture to Benefit Underrepresented Minority Students, Honor Harlem Leaders and School Founders
Director of Communications
New York, N.Y. – Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM) in Harlem is holding a Tenth Anniversary Gala at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on December 6th at 6:30 p.m. to celebrate the launch of the school and contributions of its founders, who opened it in 2007 in Harlem with a mission to educate underrepresented minorities (URMs) and serve the underserved.
The festive occasion will honor TouroCOM’s founders and its Community Advisory Board (CAB). The CAB has provided guidance to the school and served as a liaison between the community and the College to help the school meet its goals. Among its key accomplishments are the establishment of a scholarship fund to give underrepresented minorities the opportunity for a medical school education. Proceeds from the Gala will benefit the Fund.
Dr. Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference, is among the founding CAB members to be honored and she will be speaking at the event.
RSVP for the event or donate to the Fund at tourocom.touro.edu/gala
Below are interviews with two recent TouroCOM graduates who are currently living the school’s mission of serving the underserved.
Meet Patricio Guaiquil, Resident in Family Medicine, Jamaica Hospital in Queens, Class of 2015
Where are you from originally? Where did you grow up? I was born in Chile and I came to New York at age 6. I grew up in Queens, attended high school in Brooklyn, and went to college in Schenectady, New York.
Why did you decide to pursue osteopathic medicine? I became interested in osteopathic medicine during my search for work in the healthcare field that would apply a holistic approach to patient care. I shadowed several incredible DO mentors who showed me the wonders of OMM (osteopathic manipulative medicine). From that point on, I was intrigued and on a path to learn more.
How did you come to Touro? Having grown up in New York City, it was a natural fit for me to stay local in the community I knew. TouroCOM was a rather new medical school and I saw great potential in serving the community of Harlem.
Does Jamaica Hospital serve the underserved? Jamaica is uniquely situated in the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world, Queens, N.Y. Thus, the patient population is very diverse. The majority of our patients are insured under Medicaid.
Was this your choice? If so, what inspired you to pursue it? I chose to work in an underserved community because of the great need for physicians in this area. Receiving osteopathic medical training places you in a unique position to serve the underserved, especially in Primary Care. I was inspired to pursue Family Medicine because of the rewarding relationships I can build with patients and the challenges that continually propel me to better myself.
How are you finding the work? What are the greatest rewards? The greatest challenges? I love what I do. The greatest reward is the sense that I have made a positive difference in someone's life. The greatest challenge is providing the best care possible to patients with limited resources and in many cases, significant psychosocial strains.
Do you feel you are making a difference in the community, among the population you are serving? Definitely. It is rewarding to see my patients in the clinic, for example, for a preventive visit, then for an osteopathic manipulative treatment, and perhaps in the hospital if they are admitted. Having such great continuity of care with a patient ensures better care. Patients notice that and tell their relatives, and sometimes you see them in the clinic too.
Meet Kimala Harris, Resident in Family Medicine in Belle Glade, Florida at Lakeside Medical Center, Class of 2016.
Why did you decide to pursue osteopathic medicine? I thought osteopathic medicine with respect to the philosophy and the holistic approach to patient care was a more fitting way of practicing medicine given my personal lifestyle. I danced for a good portion of my life and have done yoga for many years, so I’ve always had an appreciation for the mechanics and a more holistic approach [towards] healing and taking care of the human body.
How did you find your way to Touro? I wanted (hoped) to stay in New York for DO-medical school, so I applied to Touro’s Masters-to-DO program. My thinking was that I had a better chance at [entering the DO program] via the master’s program given that I didn’t have the most competitive undergrad science GPA nor MCAT score.
Lakeside Medical Center is located in an underserved, rural community. Was this your choice? If so, what inspired you to pursue this path? Yes it was my choice. I chose LMC because I had a soul-searching moment where I remembered why I went into medicine, which was to be able to make a positive, and tangible, impact in the community where I would be working.
Where are you from? I was born in Jamaica and immigrated to the United States with my family at 11 years of age. We settled in New York City, where I was grew up for the most part.
How are you finding the work? What are you finding to be the greatest reward? The greatest challenge? I’m finding the work to be fair in that the number of more challenging rotations that demand more time and energy (surgery and the ER, for example), balance out with those that are not quite so demanding. It also helps that our residency program tries to make sure residents are happy and are able to perform at their best. For example, our on-call schedules are adjusted so we don’t become totally exhausted. The most rewarding moments are those when, after meeting a patient, they pause and tell me that they’re glad I chose to come to Belle Glade and ask if I’ll be in the community awhile because they would like to be able to keep seeing me for their care.
I admit that the greatest challenge thus far has been in working with patients for whom compliance is an issue. Our patients tend to have multiple comorbidities and are very sick; at least half of those patients are completely unable to afford health insurance (which is why the hospital is funded by taxpayers and the health care district) so they’re often at the hospital. Whenever they come to clinic a lot of those same patients will come after having run out of medication for days and sometimes weeks, so we get a lot of patients who have hypertensive urgencies or malignant hypertension, or [are] hypo- or hyperglycemic. So that can sometimes be a source of frustration in trying to teach those patients how to do better with taking care of themselves.
So then, you feel you are making a difference in the community, among the population? Definitely. I often have patients, after our first meeting, be surprised that I’m there working at our clinic and hospital and they'll ask me why I chose to come to Belle Glade. Another common question they ask is whether I’ll stay and that’s usually followed by, “I want you to be my doctor”. So I think given those kinds of responses, I’ve been making a positive impact on those I’ve cared for.
About the Touro College and University System
Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 18,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has 30 campuses and locations in New York, California, Nevada, Berlin, Jerusalem and Moscow. New York Medical College; Touro University California and Touro University Nevada; Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division; as well as Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Ill. are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For further information on Touro College, please go to: www.touro.edu/news