Coming Full Circle: SAAO’s Summer Preceptorship Program

By: Lauren Iacono, OMS-II

Take your hands and place them on your lab partner’s ankles… now just feel whatever may come to you…” – A memorable and bewildering assignment from OMM lab one at NYCOM. As first year students, we are introduced to the concepts and theories behind Osteopathic Medicine and Treatment. Simultaneously, we begin dissecting a human body and learn what is beneath the skin of our “patients.” Skin, fascia, muscle, ligaments, bone… circulation, innervation, lymphatics… All the pieces that compose one as a whole and all the pieces that you “dissect”  in order to learn about and treat the patient.  During our first year, we learn the basics behind each of the principles and treatments of OMM; we learn the proper technique and how to place our hands, how to approach the patient, and as time goes on to “assess” and treat with our hands. For the most part, we learn by working on our classmates, whose main chief complaint is a somatic dysfunction from long hours of studying. We learn through clinical case studies in class and how we would approach the patient from a practical aspect. However, it is rare that in our first year, we go beyond treating and learning in the lab or classroom.

For me, what I learned in class and lab was just enough to get my feet wet and spark an interest that allowed me to want to learn even more within the realm of OMM. So as the end of the school year was approaching, I knew I wanted to spend my summer learning more about OMT treatments and techniques, as well as observe how it is applied clinically on patients with a variety of dysfunctions and illnesses. At this point, I was so thankful to be a member of SAAO, which had an established OMM Summer preceptorship program. The program runs during the summer months of June through early August, in which first year medical students have the opportunity to be a part of. Each week different workshops are facilitated by various Osteopathic Physicians from both outside and within the OMM faculty department, scholars, as well as yoga and tai chi instructors. Along with this the students get to shadow and work with two to three OMM faculty members at the NYCOM health clinic. At the end of the summer, with the completion of attending a certain percent of the workshops and the required shadowings, each student receives a certificate for the participation.

The workshops included more practical aspects of OMM, such as common office techniques and alternative approaches to patient education. Other workshops focused on the clinical correlations including orthopedic considerations, physical medicine and rehabilitation, as well as treating allergies and asthma with OMT. While some focused on specific treatment techniques and how they are applied in the clinical setting such as the Still technique, HVLA, lymphatic considerations and treatments and Chapman’s reflexes. Some workshops went beyond the realm of OMT and allowed us to learn more on yoga, tai chi and acupuncture, and how these topics also apply to healing and treatment. Lastly, we also had scholars and residents present to us on their view of how to approach OMM during rotations and what it is like to be an OMM resident, respectively. Each workshop gave me further insight behind the philosophy and teachings of OMT and allowed me to expand my knowledge and interests regarding osteopathy.

To me, the biggest highlight was also being able to work in the clinic with our faculty. This allowed me to get a more hands on experience in treating patients with a variety of ailments and chronic illnesses.

By working with different physicians I was able to learn a variety of techniques and treatments, as well as apply what I have learned to an actual clinical case!

As I sat, assisting with treatment on a patient (overseen by my attending physician), I reflected back to that first OMM lab experience. As I was treating the patient, hands placed over the ailment, I just felt… felt the changes occurring under my hands as the treatment progressed, from the skin, the fascia, the muscle, the ligament, the bone. That bewildering moment in that first lab, suddenly made sense as I “assessed” the changes occurring underneath my fingers and how all I had learned, throughout the year, came full circle back to this moment.

The SAAO summer preceptorship program was a great experience to enhance my OMT skills and techniques, as well as to expand my knowledge to a more clinical setting. I encourage first years to consider being a part of this summer program to further develop and improve on their OMT skills, learn out of the classroom setting and apply what they have been learning throughout the year in a clinical setting.

I would like to thank the SAAO NYCOM chapter, Meaghan Crooke for being the Class of 2015’s Summer Preceptor Coordinator and Dr. Yao for facilitating and overseeing the program.


“A student of life must take in each part of the body and study its uses and relations to other parts and systems.” AT Still