Touro University has officially opened its Great Falls campus, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, touting it as the first nonprofit medical school in Montana.
Touro University has officially opened its Great Falls campus, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, touting it as the first nonprofit medical school in Montana.
The college, also known as TouroCOM, features a 100,000-square-foot building with state-of-the-art labs, a simulation lab and a kosher cafeteria. It will host up to 125 students and 60 faculty in its inaugural year and up to 500 medical students at full capacity. Ground was broken Oct. 6, 2021.
There was a grand opening for the 2801 18th Ave. S. campus on Monday in which Gov. Greg Gianforte was among those who attended.
“As we focus on creating greater and better access to health care, and lowering costs for Montanans, TouroCOM Montana is building a new pipeline of health care leaders to serve with compassion, excellence, and integrity in our communities,” he said in a news release.
Officials said they hope the new school will help address Montana’s and the nation’s health care crisis and physician shortage by educating and retaining health care professionals in the state and providing needed care to rural and tribal populations.
But it is not Montana’s first medical school. In July there was a grand opening ceremony at Rocky Vista University Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine in Billings. Up until recently, Montana was one of four states without a medical school.
In Montana, 11 of the 56 counties lack a practicing physician and 52 counties identified as areas with health professional shortages.
“One of the core pillars of our Touro University mission is to support underserved communities and the opening of TouroCOM in Great Falls represents a further expression of that,” Dr. Alan Kadish, president of Touro University, said in a news release.
He said the school was eager to train the next generation of health care providers and offer much-needed medical care to Montana.
TouroCOM will clinically affiliate with several area medical providers, including Benefis Health System, to serve the local Great Falls community and Improve access to medical care throughout Montana.
Benefis CEO John Goodnow said in an email Friday that increasing the education pipeline of medical professionals is the best way to address the country's doctor (and nurse) shortage.
"I have to really commend Touro for coming to Great Falls, Mont., and helping to increase the pipeline. We are so happy they are here," he said.
Touro officials said they hope to develop residency programs with Benefis.
Elizabeth Palmarozzi, founding dean of TouroCOM Great Falls, thanked the community and Benefis for its support.
“Opening our doors and getting our students settled into the new facilities marks just the beginning of our contribution to the healthcare community in Montana and surrounding regions,” she said in a news release.
Kenneth Steier, executive dean of TouroCOM, said Touro aims to "increase representation of Native American students in our classrooms, while also promoting primary care presence in small rural communities.”
“Our new presence in Great Falls speaks to our institutional vision of bringing exceptional educational opportunities to areas where they are needed and to the people who will truly benefit from our expertise," he said.
TouroCOM also has campuses in Harlem and Middletown, New York.
Nearly 30% of the student body in Touro’s osteopathic medical schools is comprised of underrepresented minorities, 55% of graduates practice in underserved communities and 60% enter the field of primary care.
Touro University is a system of nonprofit institutions of higher and professional education chartered in 1970. Touro was founded primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage and to serve the larger American and global community, the college said in a news release.
Nearly 19,000 students are enrolled at Touro University’s various schools and divisions, which encompass 37 campuses and locations in New York, California, Illinois, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Berlin, Jerusalem and Moscow. Great Falls is Touro's sixth medical school.
For more information, visit www.touro.edu.
Assistant editor Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021.
The inaugural class of master’s degree students started this month at California Health Sciences University’s brand-new College of Biosciences and Health Professions.
More than 90% of the 16 students are interested in attending CHSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine to become physicians, university spokeswoman Richele Kleiser said Friday.
At this point, all 16 are enrolled in the one-year master’s program, Kleiser said.
Enrollments in the new program have approval from both the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE), the university said.
CHSU, which was founded in 2012 to provide a local option for medical school, is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
The university announced in January the launch of the College of Biosciences and Health Professions, with two tracks for students interested in pursuing healthcare careers. A thesis is required for the two-year track, not the one-year track.
Students who complete the master’s program will be competitive candidates for medical school, other postgraduate health professional programs, and careers in education, research, pharmaceutical and biotech industries, and government, the university said in the January announcement.
The inaugural class is evenly divided between women and men, with 44% coming from the Central Valley and 69% from California, Kleiser said.
The university is “very pleased” with the first-year enrollment and hopes to grow the master’s program to 30 to 50 students in the future, she said.
Kleiser said she did not know how many additional students enrolled when the university extended the registration deadline by a month this summer.
CHSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine now has more than 500 students in four classes on the campus, 25% of whom are from the Central Valley and 90% from California.
Next spring members of the Class of 2024 will learn where they have been matched for medical residencies.
CHSU previously announced it was suspending its Doctor of Pharmacy program after the Class of 2024 due to a growing scarcity of pharmacy jobs and a continuing decline locally and nationwide in pharmacy school applications.
(Disclosure: GV Wire Publisher Darius Assemi and other family members founded and own California Health Sciences University, a private university in Clovis.)
The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) is announcing a number of organizational changes coinciding with the start of the 2023-24 academic year and designed to retain the school’s financial and academic strength while replenishing the school’s leadership team following the retirement of several longtime administrators in 2023.
With the retirement of Larry Ware, MBA, WVSOM’s vice president for finance and facilities since 2009, David Meadows, MBA, will assume the role of vice president for finance and facilities and chief financial officer starting Aug. 14. Meadows has extensive administrative experience in private and public education and in the banking industry. Most recently, he served as senior vice president for administration and chief financial officer at Carlow University, a 2,200-student private university in Pittsburgh, Pa.
James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., WVSOM’s president, said Meadows’ work will focus on maintaining and improving the school’s financial and physical infrastructure.
Drema Hill, Ph.D., MSP, WVSOM’s vice president for community engagement, will take on an additional role as the school’s chief operations officer. She will develop and implement protocols for cross-functional collaboration and the analysis of business processes that help WVSOM achieve its strategic objectives. Hill also will oversee the school’s Center for Rural and Community Health, Marketing and Communications Department, Audio Visual and Production Department, Information Technology Department, WVSOM’s rural health policy director and the school’s foundation relations and institutional grants officer. She will continue to work with external partners on statewide initiatives to Improve the health of West Virginians.
Hill said she is pleased to accept a position that will help the school achieve its objectives.
As WVSOM continues to expand its research enterprise, Linda Boyd, D.O., WVSOM’s vice president for academic affairs and dean, will replace retired vice president for administration and external relations Edward Bridges, Ph.D., in overseeing the school’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. Boyd, who serves as WVSOM’s chief academic officer, will oversee Dovenia Ponnoth, Ph.D., who joined WVSOM in 2020 as an associate professor of pharmacology and recently became the school’s interim associate dean for research and sponsored programs.
Additionally, Jeffrey Shawver, J.D., WVSOM’s vice president for legal and governmental affairs, will add security and external affairs to his areas of oversight and will serve as the school’s chief legal officer. Along with his existing role of representing WVSOM in legal matters and providing legal guidance to the Office of the President, the WVSOM Board of Governors and school employees, Shawver will develop and implement WVSOM’s government relations, legislative affairs and policy agenda.
Machelle Linsenmeyer, Ed.D., the school’s associate dean for assessment and educational development, has been promoted to assistant vice president for institutional effectiveness and academic resources. Linsenmeyer will provide leadership for institutional effectiveness, strategic, tactical and operational planning; assessment; accreditation; and student learning outcomes. She also will manage resources such as WVSOM’s academic management system and library.
Nemitz said the organizational changes are key to WVSOM’s continued success as a leader in medical education in West Virginia and in the osteopathic medical profession nationwide.
When the National Board of Medical Examiners and the Federation of State Medical Boards changed the process for grading a section of the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam, they hoped it would decrease student stress and reduce the emphasis on scores in the decision process for residency placement.
But a year and a half after the transition, some medical school students and faculty are unsure if the change was effective and are concerned that it may have amplified inequities among students.
The reform, which went into effect in January 2022, shifted the first of three exams required for a medical license from a traditional numerical scoring to a pass-fail model.
The exam, USMLE Step 1, is a grueling eight-hour assessment of students’ knowledge of basic medical sciences, including anatomy, biochemistry, immunology and pharmacology. It is typically taken at the end of the second year of medical school. The high-stakes exam was known for inducing high levels of stress in students because it was used as a primary evaluation metric for medical residency placements.
The NBME and the FSMB, co-sponsors of the exam, said the switch to pass-fail aimed to “address concerns about Step 1 scores impacting student well-being,” “reduce the overemphasis” on exam results and promote a more holistic residency selection process.
However, many students and medical school faculty now say that removing scores has simply shifted stress to the second exam and put additional pressure on students to differentiate themselves through research and extracurricular opportunities, which will take time away from their studies and amplify pre-existing inequalities in medical education.
“I think most people agree with the concept and think that it’s a step in the right direction, which I also agree with,” said Natasha Topolski, a sixth-year student pursuing an M.D. and Ph.D. at McGovern Medical School in Houston. “But still being stressed in that period is a very real thing … Step 1 isn’t the root of the problem. It’s a symptom.”
Topolski, who is also chair of the American Medical Association’s Medical Student Section, said her stress levels were still high when she took the exam last year under the pass-fail model.
“If you fail, residency programs know. You’re allowed to retake it, but they know and that’s this black mark,” Topolski said, noting that numerical scores provided students a chance to show improvement on the second exam. “They just see that I failed and then I passed eventually … I think that’s where a lot of the anxiety still comes from.”
Topolski said she’s heard many peers say the stress “just gets pushed to Step 2,” which is still scored and is now expected to be used as an evaluation metric for residency placements.
Abbigayle Willgruber-Rawls, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine–Bowling Green, intends to apply for an ear, nose and throat residency this fall. But she pushed her Step 2 test date back from June to August to have more time to study because she’s worried her score won’t be high enough to get accepted into the highly competitive specialty.
“It really puts a lot of pressure on different aspects of medical education that maybe we wouldn’t have stressed so much about initially if we had that numeric Step 1 score,” she said.
A study published in Medical Science Educator in February indicated many students are still feeling stressed despite the change to pass-fail.
The study was conducted by medical residents at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and compared the stress levels of students there who took the first portion of the exam both before and after the transition to pass-fail. Results showed that although exam-specific stress rates for pass-fail students were significantly lower than their scored peers during the first two years of medical school, the difference “disappeared” when students reached the “dedicated study period” in the months immediately before the exam.
Medical school faculty members and administrators are also concerned. In a exact survey of about 250 medical school officials conducted by TrueLearn, a third-party USMLE test-preparation company, only about 39 percent said they believed the switch would lessen test takers’ stress levels. However, about 56 percent of respondents expressed concerns that students would spend less time preparing for the exam as a result of the shift to a pass-fail model.
Dr. Rance McClain, who was dean at the Arkansas Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine until June, agreed that the change to pass-fail shifted students’ stress to the second part of the exam. Unlike Step 1, for which students are typically granted several months of “unhindered” time to study, he noted that Step 2 is often taken during students’ fourth-year clinical rotations.
“Now they put a lot more pressure on themselves for Step 2, when they don’t have that time and ability to study the way they now think they should,” he said. “We’re very concerned about our students taking away valuable clinical learning experiences trying to go back and study.”
Medical school officials are also concerned that as students look for new ways to differentiate themselves from peers in residency applications, more emphasis will be placed on factors such as research experience and extracurricular involvement. They worry this will amplify pre-existing inequities in the residency placement process, making it harder for students who are not attending elite institutions to be accepted into their top-choice programs.
“Students from these disadvantaged backgrounds, who may not have access to others who are physicians or scientists, they may not have those opportunities to volunteer and shadow or have research opportunities to really help embellish their résumés as they’re applying for these residency programs,” said Dr. Yolanda Lawson, president of the National Medical Association, an organization that represents African American physicians.
Dr. Jonathan Waters, a professor of anesthesiology and biomedical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, has been “heavily involved” in selecting residents and fellows in the past. He believes research is more about who you know than what you know and that it isn’t the same caliber “screening tool” as a USMLE score.
“Various professors have different expectations for medical students and the roles that they play in research … you can be a nice guy and have a professor take good care of you,” Dr. Waters said. “I don’t see it as making up for the rigor of having to study for an exam with the pressure that goes along with it.”
Mark Speicher, a senior vice president at the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, voiced similar concerns. He said research and extracurricular opportunities can be harder to access at rural, regional institutions and osteopathic medical schools, which are sometimes viewed as less rigorous. Students of color and first-generation students may also face barriers.
“There is some basis to think that the USMLE was not equitable across all demographic groups, but at least it was a known target,” Speicher said. “If I’m a first-generation college student, I knew how to prepare for the USMLE. But how am I supposed to get a research opportunity that ends with a publication?”
The USMLE, and the boards that oversee it, acknowledged some of the concerns in a statement more than a year before the change went into effect, but they moved forward with it anyway.
Joe Knickrehm, a USMLE spokesperson, said in an email that the decision was made “after nearly two years of careful evaluation” and it “is only one action that can help Improve this process.”
He implied that it was up to medical schools to address student stress.
“We encourage other organizations in undergraduate and graduate medical education to identify solutions to optimize the transition from medical school to residency,” he wrote.
The American Association of Medical Colleges declined to comment on the impact of the change. Other medical associations, including the National Resident Matching Program and the American Medical Association, acknowledged concerns but said it was too early to fully assess the scenario.
The American Medical Association described the numerical score as “detrimental” and said it “created a parallel curriculum to prepare for the exam,” which “distracted medical students from developing teamwork and communication skills.” The association also noted that the first cohort in which a majority of students took the exam under the pass-fail model will be applying for residencies this fall, after which the full impact of the exam on students’ acceptance to residency programs could be better gauged.
“There is concern voiced by the community about how these changes the determination of who programs want to invite for interviews and select for residency programs” Donna Lamb, president and CEO of the National Resident Matching Program, said in an email. However, “Anecdotal input is somewhat limiting, and so I consider it cautiously.”
“This is a new process that the National Board of Medical Examiners and others are working to better understand,” she said.
Aug. 10—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A Johnstown physician has been honored by the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association with its Family Physician of the Year award.
Conemaugh Health System's Dr. Jessica Masser was nominated by Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine Department of Family Medicine Vice Chairman Peter F. Bidey and was awarded the honor during a symposium in Hershey.
"Dr. Masser has all the qualities that are required for this award," Bidey said, adding that she "personifies" the best of osteopathic education as a local family medicine residency program director.
Osteopathy emphasizes the manipulation of muscle tissue and bones as a component of medical treatment.
Masser, who practices in Johnstown, is board-certified in family medicine and osteopathic manipulative treatment.
"Through her work with students and residents at her residency, she advances their education and continues to increase our osteopathic family medicine footprint," Bidey said. "She is the embodiment of a family physician leader. She knows her patients in and outside of the hospital, and for that, they are truly lucky."
The Family Physician of the Year award is presented in recognition of outstanding service to the profession, the statewide association said.
"Specific attributes include selfless acts of service to the profession, characteristics of the ideal family physician, including but not limited to empathy, patient-centered care, respect for the profession, and models of professionalism in their community and profession," Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center wrote in a release to media.
Masser earned her master's degree in medical education from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and her doctorate from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), where she also earned a master's degree in biomedical sciences.
The researchers also identified three proteins that are needed for the virus to carry out the invasion and have in turn synthesized molecules (potential drugs) that can target one of the proteins, potentially leading to new treatments for AIDS.
“We have revealed a protein pathway that appears to have a direct impact on diseases, which opens up a new area for potential drug development,” says the study’s senior author Aurelio Lorico, MD PhD, Professor of Pathology and interim Chief Research Officer at Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine.
HIV infection requires the virus to enter a cell and gain access to the well-guarded nucleus in order for the viral components to be integrated into the healthy cell’s DNA. But how the viruses get past the protective membrane is not well understood and is the subject of much debate.
The newly identified pathway begins with HIV entering a cell wrapped inside a membrane package, called an endosome. The virus-containing endosome then pushes the protective nuclear membrane inward, forming an indentation known as a nuclear invagination. The endosome then moves inside the invagination to its inner tip, where the virus then slips into the nucleus.
The study found that three proteins were critical to the invasion: One protein (Rab7) is located on the membrane of the endosome, the second (VAP-A) is on the nuclear membrane where the invagination occurs, and the third (ORP3) connects the first two proteins together. An interaction among the three proteins is needed for the invasion to be successful, so targeting any of these proteins could halt the infection. The team has synthesized and tested molecules that interrupt the interaction among the proteins. The researchers observed that, in the presence of these molecules, HIV replication does not occur.
This pathway for nuclear access was first discovered in the team’s research on cancer metastasis and is likely involved in other diseases as well.
“This is an entirely new pathway and we have developed molecules (drugs) that block it,” says Lorico. “Although our research is at a pre-clinical stage, it is likely that the new drugs synthesized may have therapeutic activity in AIDS, other viral diseases, and possibly metastatic cancer and other diseases where nuclear transport is involved.” The team is currently looking at the pathway’s role in Alzheimer’s disease and metastasis of many types of cancer.
“Because the pathway we found may apply to many types of disease, there is a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done to understand the full benefits of this research,” says Dr. Denis Corbeil, co-leading author of the study, research group leader at the Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC) of TUD Dresden University of Technology in Germany.
“The ground-breaking research of Dr. Lorico and his team is a testimony to the importance that Touro University gives to its mission of service to humanity. The potential therapeutic applications of this new pathway to Improve patient care are immense and may help us better navigate the next pandemic,” said Dr. Alan Kadish, Touro University President.
The study, HIV-1-induced nuclear invaginations mediated by VAP-A, ORP3, and Rab7 complex explain infection of activated T cells, was the result of a collaboration of researchers from Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York, researchers from the Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC) of TU Dresden University of Technology in Germany, and researchers from Italy.
Mark F. Santos, Germana Rappa, Jana Karbanová, Patrizia Diana, Girolamo Cirrincione, Daniela Carbone, David Manna, Feryal Aalam, David Wang, Cheryl Vanier, Denis Corbeil and Aurelio Lorico: HIV-1-induced nuclear invaginations mediated by VAP-A, ORP3, and Rab7 complex explain infection of activated T cells. Nature Communications (August 2023)
About Touro University Nevada
Touro University Nevada is Nevada’s largest school of medicine and largest school of physician assistant studies, fully accredited, and a private, non-profit, Jewish-sponsored institution. Opened in 2004, Touro Nevada was established to help address critical needs in health care and education and as a resource for community service throughout Nevada. Its mission is to provide quality education programs in the fields of health care and education in concert with the Judaic commitment to social justice, intellectual pursuit, and service to humanity. Touro Nevada is home to more than 1,500 students in a wide variety of degree programs including osteopathic medicine, physician assistant studies, education, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and medical health sciences. The University’s Henderson campus houses the Engelstad Research Complex for Biomedical and Human Performance Research that is committed to serving humanity and contributing to intellectual progress through insightful scientific research. For more information, visit www.tun.touro.edu.
About the Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC)
The Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC) was founded in 2000 as a central scientific unit of the TU Dresden with the goal of combining modern approaches in molecular and cell biology with the traditionally strong engineering in Dresden. Since 2016, the BIOTEC is part of the central scientific unit “Center for Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering” (CMCB) of the TU Dresden. The BIOTEC is fostering developments in research and teaching within the Molecular Bioengineering research field and combines approaches in cell biology, biophysics and bioinformatics. It plays a central role within the research priority area Health Sciences, Biomedicine and Bioengineering of the TU Dresden.
HIV-1-induced nuclear invaginations mediated by VAP-A, ORP3, and Rab7 complex explain infection of activated T cells.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.
In 2017, Hillcrest hired Anthony Hatcher as a full-time chief medical officer to focus on quality care improvement, clinical systems development and new payor-model preparation.
When a pandemic impacted health care delivery like nothing else in history, having Hatcher on hand to lead the organization through the struggles of COVID-19 proved wise.
The Hillcrest executive team recently announced Dr. Hatcher as chief executive officer.
Anthony Hatcher is a board-certified family physician who received a Bachelor of Science from Truman State University, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine and a master’s degree in executive leadership from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Hatcher completed his family medicine residency at Creighton University and served in the United States Air Force as a flight surgeon stationed at Offutt AFB.
Prior to joining Hillcrest in 2017 as chief medical officer, Hatcher spent more than 20 years working for Alegent/CHI Health as a practicing clinical physician. He also served on the Alegent Health Board of Directors and as the chief administrative officer of Alegent Health Clinic.
“We are extremely pleased to announce this promotion,” Jim Janicki, Hillcrest’s chief administrative officer, said in a news release. “Dr. Hatcher is highly respected in the local medical community and among post-acute care providers, and our team members have been looking to him for his leadership and support for the past six years. This just feels right. We’re excited for Hillcrest’s continued growth and innovation with Tony at the helm.”
In addition to his CEO role, Hatcher will continue to serve as the health system’s chief medical officer, providing oversight on clinical operations, physician and hospital partnerships, quality assurance initiatives and system-wide clinical education.
Hillcrest Health Services is a locally owned and operated health system serving more than 2,000 aging adults every day across 12 counties in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. Hillcrest provides active adult and independent living communities; assisted living and memory care residences; post-acute and long-term care facilities; adult day services; home and community services including skilled medical home health, private duty companion care and compassionate hospice services; two outpatient therapy clinics (Innovate Physical Therapy) and contracted therapy services in other local care facilities.