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Aug 08 2014

Student-Doctors Begin NYIT Osteopathic Medical Education

Old Westbury, N.Y.  (August 8, 2014) --  New York Institute of Technology first-year medical school students attended information-packed orientation sessions this week and plunged quickly into their studies Wednesday with a laboratory quiz on osteopathic manipulative medicine as one of the first orders of business.

In sessions led by faculty members, including many NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine alumni, students learned about the school’s growing research opportunities, the accelerated family medicine and academic medicine scholars programs, technology resources, and the use of osteopathic manipulative medicine to diagnose and treat illness.

“It’s nice to know there are so many graduates who come back to teach and want to give back to the school,” said Angelique Petropouleas, 25, who proclaimed the orientation and early days of school a success.

Petropouleas said she was drawn to osteopathic medical education because “I’m a huge proponent of action,” and osteopathic techniques can provide patients with relief from what may be deeper, underlying causes of their medical issues.

Welcome and Inspiration

“There may be one of you who will be a Nobel Prize winner,” said College of Osteopathic Medicine Dean Wolfgang Gilliar, DO, in one of several addresses to the 300 students selected from more than 6,400 applicants.

Gilliar and Vice President for Health Sciences and Medical Affairs Barbara Ross-Lee, DO, stressed the need for students to uphold high standards of personal and professional behavior.

“Your medical education is about learning and understanding,” Ross-Lee said, added that values, commitment, and ethics are key.  “It is about professionalism.”

Gilliar noted the particular importance of strong communication, using the doctor-patient handshake as an example of the initial exchange that can provide crucial insights into how a patient is feeling.

Mixing personal stories of his own medical education with practical advice, Gilliar urged the students to challenge themselves and integrate their experiences as they learn to ask and answer questions.

“Every question is a patient,” he said. “Every patient is a question.”

Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine

As students learned about the school’s osteopathic manipulative medicine lab and curriculum, acting department chair Dr. Sheldon Yao (D.O., ‘02) informed them that their first day of school would include a quiz on palpation and observation, based on materials they were encouraged to review prior to the lab session.

The idea, Yao said later, is to get students accustomed to “learning before doing” in the lab. “When they come in, we’ll apply what they’ve learned and so some second-order learning,” he said.

Yao also advised students to discover personal learning approaches that will help them master the rigors of medical school, and he urged them to stay ahead of the curriculum while also reflecting each day on what they learned.

“Look at it as a marathon, not a sprint,” he said.

Research Opportunities and Special Programs

Dr. Martin Gerdes, chair of the biomedical sciences department, introduced students to the school’s growing research opportunities, noting that five current faculty members are currently conducting research funded by the National Institutes of Health. The National Science Foundation has also awarded grants in recent months to anatomy professors.   

“I think you’re in for a really incredible ride,” Gerdes said.

John Kappenberg, Ed.D., chair of the new medical education department, said his group is researching how medicine is taught and learned as the medical field undergoes transformations in practice. More than 15 separate research projects are underway to provide guidance on teaching future physicians.

New Technology

The student-doctors also became the first to use began new iPads loaded with a dissection atlas to guide them in the anatomy lab.

“It’s the GPS to the body,” said Chellappa Kumar, Ph.D., chief information officer for NYITCOM.

The new iPads are protected with waterproof covers that also can guard against accidental encounters with floors.

“The students are digital natives,” said Anatomy Department Chair Robert Hill, Ph.D.  “They were right at home – they grabbed the iPads and got started. They even gave feedback on the product.”

Hill said the new iPads are valuable additions to the lab as they help students in their semester-long dissection of

“It has the power to expand what’s possible in teaching in the anatomy lab,” said Hill “and gives us the whole web at our fingertips.”

Other new technology resources include new video systems in the osteopathic medicine lab, multi-perspective cameras to provide a variety of views of lab demonstrations, and a 3-D printer.

As she took a break on Friday, student-doctor Petropouleas reflected on her early days,and said Gilliar's message about the respected role of the physician and society's expectations resonated with her.

"It's good to be here," she added before heading back to class.

About NYIT
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers 90 degree programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, in more than 50 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has 13,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.
Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, nearly 100,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit
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Office of Communications

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