Celebrating Charity in Bangladesh

By Syed Saadman Karim, OMS II

During the month of Ramadan in Islam, charity is strongly emphasized. In this photograph, the women and children of the village of Aminpur in Pabna, Bangladesh, waited patiently as they were given new clothing for the holiday season. The gratitude I received after distributing as many as 50 dresses to this impoverished population was unforgettable and rewarding. The vibrant colors of this photograph remind me of the rich experience I had in my trip to Bangladesh last summer and the festive celebratory theme in the air during the month of Ramadan.
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Alumni Highlights

Alumni Highlights

Compiled by Jaclyn Chua, OMS-IV 

The following alumni highlights include an extraordinary set of mentors at varying levels of their training who graciously agreed to provide personal advice on questions that were unique to each year of medical school. Included are two highlights from an Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine intern belonging to the most recent graduating Class of 2014, a Pediatric resident from the Class of 2013, and a Psychiatry resident from the Class of 2012. They are all personal role models of mine, and it is my hope that their advice alleviates any anxiety that often comes with the fear of the unknown.

 

JOHN P. FLAHERTY, DO

Class of 2014

Emergency Medicine Resident, PGY1

St. Vincent’s Hospital, Allegheny Health Network, Erie, PA

 

What should my priorities be as a first year?

Work hard. Learn how to study efficiently. Take care of yourself mentally.

#OMS1, What if I don’t know what I want to do?

That’s okay, but you really need to start narrowing it down by March/April of third year. In the meantime, make sure you have a CV that is up to date.

#OMS2, #Boards

Studying for boards is a long process. You should start studying after Christmas break. No matter what, plan on doing all of the USMLE World and one of the COMLEX question banks. Do not get frustrated when you get questions wrong. Those are the ones that you will learn from. Take at least a few practice tests, perhaps one a month before your scheduled test date and then another practice test a few weeks before your scheduled test date. If you are thinking about taking the USMLE, schedule it. Doing UWorld and COMLEX questions will prepare you for both tests. You should take a practice USMLE a few weeks before the test to see if your score is where you want it to be. You can always opt out of the test if you feel like you are not prepared for it. Do not get frustrated.

#OMS3, #Showcasing

If you are going to go into a field you have not rotated in, like EM or Anesthesia, you need to set up some of those rotations early in your fourth year so that you can decide if that’s truly the field you want to go into. This will be so you have a source of letters. You can also have another rotation in that field during the fall of your fourth year.

#OMS4, #ERAS

ERAS is pretty simple to use with most of it just plugging in data from your CV and personal statement. Submitting an application to a program is inexpensive. It is best to apply broadly at the beginning and so that you have more options at the end. Researching programs take a long time, but reviewing a program’s website is a start. You will also learn a lot about programs while you on the interview trail.

#EmergencyMedicine, #SLOR

You will need decent board scores. EM programs require a specific kind of letter of recommendation called the SLOR. Typically, you will need two. They must be written by an attending physician which whom you have rotated. Your last two letters should be from someone pertinent.

 

RAYMOND CHIONG, DO

Class of 2012

Psychiatry Resident, PGY3

Undergraduate: NYU

Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla, NY

 

#OMS1, What if I don’t know what I want to do?

As a first year, you should try to just acclimate yourself to the academic rigors of med school. For me, it felt like a whole different level of concentration and studying was needed in comparison to college.

#OMS2, #Boards

Try to start studying for it as early as you can. You will need to organize your time because you will also need to dedicate time to your 2nd yr course load.

#OMS3, #Showcasing

Try to rotate in hospitals or physical locations where you hope to do your residency. This also applies to your early 4th yr rotations. For most programs, it can be a huge asset to have had rotated in their hospitals. Try to keep an open mind through all your rotations. Don’t be afraid of or dismiss psychiatry off the bat. One of the skills that you learn on your psych rotation is to how to listen empathetically which is a skill that you will need in most specialties.

#OMS4, #ERAS, #Interviews

Get your letters as early as possible because you’ll inevitably have to start stalking some people to get them to write or upload the letters. Get letters from doctors in the specialty that you’re interested in and if possible, from the specific program. There’s no such thing as having too many letters so get as many as you can. Enjoy your interviews! They are less awful than writing your personal statement or waiting for match day. Rank the programs in order of your preference – don’t try to outsmart the system or worry about how the programs will rank you.

 

PRIYAL PATEL, DO

Class of 2013

Pediatric Resident, PGY2

Undergraduate: Fairleigh Dickinson University

Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

 

Why pediatrics? Fellowships?

I knew at the age of 11 years that I had an interest in Pediatrics. However, in medical school, I enjoyed most of my rotations and had a really tough time picking what I wanted to do. However, I ultimately did decide to go into Pediatrics, and I LOVE IT. I love my job and after starting residency, it seems like I absolutely made the right decision. I am very happy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. We see cases here from literally all around the world. It has given me the opportunity to see both the “bread and butter” of pediatrics as well as be a part of taking care of patients with very rare conditions. Doing my residency here has also given me the opportunity to test out many sub-specialties and to do clinical research.

I originally was interested in NCH for their Pediatric gastrointestinal fellowship, but soon after I did my ward month on the Hematology/Oncology service, I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. I am currently in the process of apply for Hematology/Oncology fellowships.

#OMS1, What if I don’t know what I want to do?

The main priority during the first year is the survive and to learn how to balance social vs. school life.  First year of medical school is emotionally and physically draining at times. Don’t get caught up with trying to figure out what it is that you exactly want to do in life. All of that will make more sense after starting the clinical years of medical school. Also, by the end of first year, it is advised that the students start thinking about how they will study for the boards.

#OMS2, #Boards

The best advice I can give is to stay calm and do a lot of questions. Everyone studies differently, but what worked for me was picking a couple of review books to read and to get through two question banks.

#OMS3, #Showcasing

For third year, decide early if you want to do a regional rotation or if you want to take the route of ranking different sites in the lottery system. I chose to do a regional in upstate NY in Kingston. I was happy with the regional because it gave me the opportunity to get to know the attendings and residents very well. Also, the regional I chose did not have a lot of students, so I had the opportunity to do a lot of procedures and to be first assist on a lot of surgical/OB cases.

It honestly is a personal choice of whether to chose a regional or not. Either choice is fine. The point of third year is to get as much exposure as possible in the different specialties. Always be on time for the rotations, ask questions, ask to do procedures, show initiative, never disappear during your work-day and just have fun. Third year will ultimately solidify what specialty you want to go into. It is a great time to start asking for letters of recommendations.

If you are interested in Pediatrics, try to do your pediatric rotation at a place that will let you do both in-patient, specialty and out-patient pediatrics. The reason being is that this will give you the opportunity to figure out whether you are interested in primary care pediatrics or doing a specialty. Knowing this will help you decide what kind of residency program to apply to. For example, I knew I was interested in doing some sort of specialty, so when I was applying for residency, it was important for me to know how many residents at a particular pediatric residency went onto doing fellowships. Also, it was important for me to know if the residency program offers research opportunities (because, research is very important for Pediatric Fellowships and Fellowship programs often look for candidates who did some sort of research in residency).

#OMS4, #ERAS, #Interviews

The biggest advice I have for the application process is to get everything done on time. Do not waste time and start your ERAS application at the last minute. Make sure you know who to ask to get a letter of recommendation from. I started asking for LORs during my third year rotations. Definitely get one or two letters from a doctor in the specialty that you are applying from. Also, try to get a letter from a program director you worked with as a third or fourth year. Residency programs love to see what program directors think of certain students. I got five total letters and submitted a different combo of four to the different residency programs I applied to. I got one letter from a Family Medicine Program Director at the regional I worked at. One letter was from a Pediatric Assistant Program Director that I worked with as a 3rd Year student. One was from a psychiatrist and one was from the head of the Gastroenterology Practice that I worked with during my 3rd year elective. Also, I got a letter from the head of the Discovery Health Center director who was trained in Med-Peds. Most residency programs only allow applicants to send 3-4 LORs so I chose from these letters which ones to send.

As for ranking programs, go with your gut feeling. I made a word document for every place I went to for an interview. In this document, I included the pros and cons of each program. I ranked based on fellowship and research opportunities and also based on where I thought I would fit in best. There were programs I interviewed at that looked good on paper but not during the interview (i.e. the residents were unhappy, program directors did not seem invested, etc.). I did not rank these couple of programs at all.

 

PUNITA SHROFF, DO

Class of 2014

Internal Medicine Resident, PGY1

Undergraduate: Drexel University

Mount Sinai Beth Israel, NYC

 

Why internal medicine? Fellowships?

My first rotation as a third year was in internal medicine. I knew before starting rotations that I would either end up in IM or pediatrics. I kept an open mind throughout the year, and found myself really loving OB/GYN and even surgery. In a 5-10 week time span those rotations were great, exciting and I experienced my many firsts. I saw my first vaginal delivery, I scrubbed in on my first OR case, and I attempted my first intubation. In pediatrics, I found myself smiling almost at a constancy – kids are so darn cute. But I found that pediatrics is a lot of times reassuring worried parents, and as much as I loved playing with kids, seeing them very sick was not easy either. When it came time to decide what specialty to go into, I won’t lie, I was very uncertain. Life decisions are scary, the fear I’d make a mistake was very apparent. But when I sat down and thought about it, I realized I found myself looking back on my IM rotation. The patients I encountered, the intellectual conversations, and the down to earth residents who worked hard but still smiled every time they walked into a patient’s room.

#OMS1, What if I don’t know what I want to do?

As a first year medical student, focus on passing your exams. Medical school isn’t impossible, but it requires commitment and dedication. It’s okay not to know what you want to do with your life in your first year. Your main goal is to stay afloat and do the best you can. Also, don’t neglect yourself – eat, sleep, exercise, make time to go out every now and then, and always remember to call your loved ones.

#OMS2, #Boards

It is not impossible. Keep your head up, focus on your own journey and do not get discouraged. We’ve all been through it, we’ve all survived.

#OMS3, #Showcasing

I decided to do all my rotations at NUMC, because I didn’t want to be moving around every few weeks. In terms of making a schedule, I would talk to as many upperclassmen as you can. Find out what rotations are great for learning and experience (not all rotations are created the same). If you’re interested in a specialty at a specific hospital that our school allows us to rotate at, it’s a good opportunity to show your face and your interest. However, be mindful that if you end up not impressing them, you’re putting yourself at a greater disadvantage. So make sure to put your game face on! Good luck, and third year just means the light at the end of the tunnel is that much closer!

#OMS4, #ERAS, #Interviews

Be organized! I wrote down all the dates of when things were due and made a plan for myself. It’s overwhelming, but having a time line makes things easier. Towards the middle of your third year, begin to ask for LOR as it will take some time to obtain them from your attendings. The higher the position, the better the letter will look. Focus on quality versus quantity (3-4 is sufficient). Also, polish your CV so you can provide your letter writers with more information about you. The CV also serves as a template for ERAS. If you are obtaining letters from someone who you rotated with very early on, also provide them with a brief paragraph or two about your experiences. It can help them jog their memory, and make your LOR more personalized.

How to rank programs will be dependent on what you want in a program. Is it the location, education, prestige, camaraderie, salary etc? After every interview I went on, I made myself a pro and con list for what the programs offered. Initially, it helped me gather my thoughts on the programs. I also started making my rank list early, and tweaked it as I went on. The truth is, I never really followed the pro con list and chose to rank programs based on my gut. Really simply, I thought about what I would be happiest with if I were to open my Match envelope at that very moment.

I’m pleased to say, it all worked out in the end.

Subtleties: OMM in a Unique Perspective

By Elizabeth Stachtiaris, OMS III

“Did you see him leg yield outward after his neck rounded?” I excitedly asked my medical classmate as I sat atop my horse, out of breath after an exhausting equine workout. My audience-of-one confusedly stared up at me. “Um…what?” I quickly realized that the visual and palpable movements of both my steed and myself, that were clearly observable to me, were too minimal for a novice to perceive. I quickly responded, “Oh, never mind. Watch me jump this oxer,” opting to display a more obvious feat.

Equestrianism is a sport of elegance and efficiency, incorporating myriad subtle movements of the rider aimed to transform the team into an unstoppable force ready to face various challenges, such as large jumps or intricate dressage techniques. A beginner might be able to rudimentarily complete these tasks with superfluous actions, which frustrate the horse and render the performance atrocious for spectators. However, a skilled equestrian masks his actions, making his riding seem effortless, while maintaining complete control of the animal underneath him. These nonverbal communications relayed to the horse allow both individuals to become a unified duo able to complete enormous tasks in competition.

The skill of subtlety only comes with years of practice. There are no short cuts. A beginner in horseback riding looks to professionals with admiration and jealousy, hoping to one day attain the skills necessary to become a successful equestrian. As an experienced rider, I cherish my years of training and ability to compete at a high level. However, as a third year medical student at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine, I now identify as a frustrated novice in the department of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine. On the first day of OMM, our professors reassured us that mastery of palpation only comes with time, patience, and practice. They preached that as trained physicians, we would be able to feel numerous somatic dysfunctions and treat them with both our hands and medical innovations, practicing a holistic view of healthcare. In disbelief I laid my hands on my partners back, attempting to listen to the body with my fingers. I felt nothing. I heard nothing. I struggled in this field of medicine completely out of my comfort zone, inspired to persevere only by the doctors’ encouragement. My classmates, who did not feel anything either, and I simply performed the required techniques mandated by the curriculum, hoping that one day we would develop the necessary palpatory skills necessary to exemplify esteemed osteopathic physicians.

Despite the grueling medical school curriculum, I rode my horse every morning before classes, enjoying a field that I have mastered as a respite from the frustration and confusion of osteopathic education. A rider does hundreds of subtle movements with his hands and legs per riding session, communicating nonverbally to his partner. As I performed these equine techniques for my fellow osteopathic medical student, it was clear that he did not perceive them, and merely saw me as a girl on a horse “making him go.” I then realized the similarities between equestrianism and osteopathic manipulative medicine. A rider must partner with the horse, just as the physician must team with the patient’s body. The physician’s hands must nonverbally communicate with the body, patiently listening for anything it has to say. They must learn the body’s limits and incorporate them into treatment methods aimed to ameliorate physical dysfunctions. Both the physician and patient must cooperate to achieve the common goal of health, just as the horse and rider must collaborate to jump over a five-foot oxer.

After many years of working with my horse at high levels of competition, we have formed a strong and loving bond. As a future osteopathic physician, I trust that my many hours of palpatory practice will grant me the necessary skills to form a special relationship with my patients, along with the ability to offer them an extra tool in the medical field to alleviate their pain. As a third year medical student, I know that I must be patient to acquire the subtle skills of osteopathy. However, I am aware that there are no short cuts to expertise. I must allow my separate lives as the equestrian and the medical student to integrate in order to become a well-rounded physician.

3rd Annual Team NYIT-COM Runs For The Warriors

By Brett Grobman, OMS III

Each morning we wake up, we are blessed to enjoy freedoms that we often take for granted. But freedom isn’t free. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the many fallen and wounded service men and women who have sacrificed the unimaginable so that we may have the freedoms we so greatly cherish.

For the past two years, Team NYIT-COM has participated in the Long Island Run for the Warrior® to honor our Heroes. Run For The Warriors® is a unique race dedicated to the men and women wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, their families, and families of the fallen. It is now becoming an honored tradition at NYIT-COM, where our student body and faculty can come together in solidarity, along with thousands of Long Islanders, to show our troops and veterans how grateful we are for the sacrifices they made and continue to make for us.

Last RFTW2 (1)year, there were 36 registered team members, including two faculty members, Dr. Patti Happel and Dr. Thomas Chan, along with several general team donors! All together TEAM NYIT-COM raised a total of $2,863, ranking them in the top 3 among team fundraising for the event. A special thank you to Dr. David Levine, the top general team donor, who was made an honorary team member and was presented with an official Team NYIT-COM team running shirt, and the top fundraising runner Andrew Bohlen, the 5th leading fundraiser overall out of over 3000 participants at the event! Additionally, seven of the team members placed in the top 100 runners for the 10k race!

The overall response of last year’s participants was an experience that was both positive and encouraging. John Sullivan (OMS-III), Ensign (ENS) US Navy and last year’s president of NYIT-COM’s military physician organization on campus, AMOPS, was delighted with the outcome of the event and the establishment of the AMOPS Fitness Club on campus which has served to integrate both military and non-military students on campus. “This event continues to highlight our commitment to supporting wounded warriors and our dedication to self-improvement. Since the beginning of (fall 2013), members of the Association of Medical Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (AMOPS) have met twice a week, every week, for group physical fitness. Members of the 1st and 2nd year class have volunteered to lead sessions including 3-5 mile runs … It has been inspiring to see this team come together to promote health, fitness and community.”

Dr. Patti Happel ran with emotion and purpose and shared with me a brief glimpse into her motivation for participating in the event. “Although I am a novice to the running world for the past year, I wanted to participate in this run to honor and pay tribute to my father, Richard Happel. He was a Korean War Army Veteran, who passed away in March 2013. I love running … it allows me to have a healthy internal competition, challenging myself with each and every run. With my busy schedule, it allows me a healthy and positive outlet to free my body, mind and spirit from the everyday stressors. Running has been paramount in my transformation, conquering a lifelong battle of morbid obesity. I run because I can! When I get tired, I remember those that can’t run … what they would give to have this simple gift we take for granted, and I run harder for them.”

The current president of AMOPS, Matthew Stark (OMS-II), 2nd Lieutenant US Army was overwhelmed by those he saw running alongside him – young or old, “As a member of the military, it was very inspiring to see so many veterans and their families coming together for this event. For me, the best part of the race was watching a 93 year old military veteran pass the finish line. It just goes to show that the American values of toughness and perseverance are not lost with age.” Christian de Elia (OMS-II), secretary of AMOPS, had a similar experience and recounts that, “the best part was the feeling of camaraderie amongst all the runners. Honestly, I wouldn’t have finished as strong as I did had I not been urged on by a fellow runner. It was a pretty amazing way to finish off the race.” For Dr. Thomas Chan, this event was not only an opportunity to bring awareness to our heroes – “I participated because I felt it important to support the NYIT-COM team of students who take time out of their busy lives to organize and support great charitable causes such as helping the veterans in Run For The Warriors®. The best part of the experience was interacting with the students outside of the university setting in a relaxed and positive environment. The smiles, joking around, and team spirit was(sic) infectious before, during and after the run.”

Now for a 3rd straight year, AMOPS, NYIT-COM and its student body will again come together to form the Team NYIT-COM Warriors. But the true warriors are the one’s so often forgotten, the men and women who ran alongside them – those still in uniform, veterans who have returned home, some with prosthetics, others, now paraplegics on hand bicycles, and the families of those who have made the greatest sacrifice of all – life. In setting aside any societal divides – military and non-military, faculty and non-faculty, young and old, the Team NYIT-COM Warriors have come together as one unit to pay tribute to America’s greatest warriors in what hopes to continue as a proud tradition at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Andrew Bohlen (OMS-II), ENS US Navy, treasurer of AMOPS, summed it up best in sharing his experience, “I participated in Run For The Warriors® because I wanted to give my support and donations to an amazing organization that is providing support for wounded US service members, their families, and families of the fallen. These days, it is easy for a lot of Americans to forget that we have been involved in a military conflict for over twelve years now and that it still continues to this day. However, for the men and women serving in the US armed forces and their families it is not. By participating in Run for the Warriors® I hoped I could raise awareness about the sacrifices still being made by the men and women in our Armed Forces and their families and the need for more support for the veterans of America.”

Come out and join AMOPS on November 9th! To sign up for the 3rd Annual NYIT-COM Runs for the Warriors follow this link:
http://www.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1114798
Click “register” on the left side of the screen and follow the directions to join a team. Our team name is “NYITCOM”.