Angelo Mascia, a third-year student at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine, has been elected chair of a national organization representing 26,000 osteopathic medical students.
As chair of the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents, Mascia takes the helm of a group that serves as the student voice within the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. That organization, known as AACOM, represents administration, faculty, and students of the nation’s 32 accredited osteopathic medical colleges. The council led by Mascia comprises student government presidents from each school.
Mascia’s election is among several significant achievements for NYITCOM students in recent months:
- 44 were inducted into the school’s new Gold Humanism Honor Society chapter, which emphasizes empathy and compassion.
- Second-year student Andrew Kerner presented NYITCOM’s Run With the Vice President, Walk With the Dean program at the AACOM national conference.
- Several students placed first, second, or third in a national research poster competition.
- The Student American Academy of Osteopathy chapter was voted “most improved” by peer groups.
- For the second year, NYITCOM was first in the nation for the total of TOUCH (Translating Osteopathic Understanding into Community Health) points accumulated for student community service activities.
“Under the guidance of a committed faculty, they’re excelling on so many levels through hard work and passionate purpose,” said Dean Wolfgang Gilliar, D.O. “Their achievements are a testament to NYITCOM’s emphasis on collaboration, service, and academics.”
Pushing for Mental Health Awareness
Mascia said his top priority as COSGP chair will be to continue current efforts around the issue of medical students’ mental health.
“We’ve seen data showing that medical students are significantly more depressed than the average age-matched population, and have greater suicide ideation,” said Mascia, referring to the results of recent mental health survey of 10,000 osteopathic medical students. “Preliminary data shows that medical students are not as mentally well as their counterparts in other disciplines.”
Mascia said he and other COSGP leaders will advocate for increased mental health awareness and resources for medical school students. They’ll also explore the issue of diversity on medical school campuses and the continuing need “to ensure the student voice is heard” by leaders of the profession.
From Empathy to Exercise
The newly inducted members of NYITCOM’s Gold Humanism Honor Society chapter join 24,000 students and practicing physicians, chosen for their academic excellence, commitment to patient care, and attributes of compassion, respect, and empathy.
Inductees received certificates and pins and recited an oath pledging compassionate care for their patients. Faculty inductee Andrea Watson (D.O., ‘00) ended the ceremony with an anonymous author’s words from the poem “Heartprints: Wherever I go today/Help me leave heartprints!/Heartprints of compassion/Of understanding and love.”
Faculty inductees also included Vice President for Medical Affairs and Global Health Jerry Balentine, D.O., and Maria Plummer, M.D. The chapter will soon meet to elect officers and plan activities for the next academic year.
In addition to emphasizing empathy, NYITCOM students are also working on incorporating fitness into their busy schedules. Recently, Andrew Kerner, a second-year student and avid runner, presented the school’s running/walking wellness and mentoring program at AACOM’s April conference. Kerner is a regular at the weekly sessions, along with Balentine and several faculty members.
“These runs and walks help students take better care of themselves, but they also help students take better care of each other,” said Kerner, who spearheaded the program with Balentine. “It’s easier to wake up to exercise when you know there will be other people there too, so we are subconsciously holding each other accountable. Being able to run, walk, and talk with the faculty outside the classroom provides a wonderful feeling.”
Academics and Altruism
The use of osteopathic manipulative medicine for pediatric, cardiac, and post-surgical patients were among the topics on winning research posters at the American Academy of Osteopathy’s convocation in March.
Students entered 12 posters and took one first place, one third place, and three second place awards. Third-year student Kristen deVries placed third among 17 competitors who presented case studies, with her case detailing her positive experience of using OMM to help treat a patient hospitalized with pneumonia.
“The number of posters shows the growing amount of interest and studies being performed here,” said Sheldon Yao, (D.O., ‘02) chair of the department of osteopathic medicine. “”These awards help to confirm that are faculty and students are accomplishing positive results with all their dedicated research and teaching efforts.”
Yao is also chapter advisor of the Student American Academy of Osteopathy club that won the “most improved award” from its parent organization. “The club was extremely active in outreach, educational events and workshops, and developing new events on campus,” he said.
“If you take a snapshot of right now, the things we’re doing are incredible,” said Mascia, referring to NYITCOM accomplishments. “There’s been a tremendous amount of research, our student organizations are getting incredible guest speakers and holding wonderful events. I’ve seen our students’ passion grow.”