A Touch Across the Ocean
While on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean from her homeland, Ukrainian-born Viktoria Taranto is working to provide dermatological consultation services to people of her native country. The College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) Émigré Physicians Program student is training with Long Island-based dermatologist Navin Arora (D.O. ’04) and offering virtual dermatology consultations and treatment recommendations for Ukrainian citizens and refugees unable to access specialized care back in Ukraine.
With aspirations to become a dermatologist, Taranto began shadowing Arora. After he learned of her background, they jointly developed and implemented Consultations for Ukrainians, a telemedicine program for those who otherwise would not have access to such services. When Taranto shared this news among colleagues and friends from medical school in Ukraine, people immediately reached out for help.
As part of this unique work with Arora, Taranto helps prepare custom care plans for Ukrainians at home or abroad. During online consultations, she speaks with patients to gather all relevant information and images and then prepares a case for Arora to review and form the patient’s assessment and plan.
“I feel that it is the least I can do,” says Taranto, who hails from Lutsk, Ukraine. “Being away from my family and friends and not being able to physically help is very difficult. However, making a difference in somebody’s life through these consultations is truly rewarding.”
Before moving to Levittown, N.Y., Taranto graduated from Bogomolets National Medical University in Kyiv and completed her residency to obtain her Ukrainian medical degree and physician license. Her training qualified her for NYITCOM’s Émigré Physicians Program, which welcomes international physicians to earn their Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree in the United States. Taranto’s father-in-law, Victor H. Taranto, M.D. (D.O. ’98), a graduate of the Émigré Physicians Program, inspired her to pursue NYITCOM’s coursework instead of immediately taking the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
“When I learned about the uniqueness of this program and osteopathic medicine in general, I firmly decided to go back to school instead of just taking the USMLE,” she says. “I believe this choice will help me to become a better physician and provide better care for my future patients.”
Involved in sports and dance since early childhood, Taranto credits her active lifestyle for sparking her interest in the medical field. Since she was always moving in some capacity, she says there was a curiosity within her for “how muscles move our body and how the human body works in general.” Hearing her uncle, a cardiothoracic surgeon in Ukraine, tell stories of saving lives only solidified her aspirations.
After completing the Émigré Physicians Program, Taranto hopes to become a practicing dermatologist—further, she would like to return to NYITCOM to become a mentor for students looking to follow the same medical path she took. Until then, she continues to balance her studies with being a mother to her young son.
“It is very important to have a support system,” she offers as advice for other mothers enrolled in full-time education programs. “In my case, my support system is my husband. While working full time, he helps me tremendously with our son. It is also very important to be organized and schedule time to help you prioritize things and get more done.”