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Oregon osteopathic pre-med clubs earn national recognition

by Michelle Steinhebel

February 27, 2018

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WesternU COMP-Northwest integral to formation of new clubs

Two Oregon universities’ Pre-Student Osteopathic Medical Association clubs earned national recognition last week from their parent organization, SOMA. Both clubs formed last year with the help of medical students from Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest.

“These Pre-SOMA clubs allow for more exposure to the osteopathic profession on college campuses. As the only osteopathic medical school in Oregon, we are proud to celebrate their success,” said John T. Pham, DO, Vice Dean of WesternU COMP-Northwest. Pham also is advisor for the SOMA club at COMP-Northwest. “The Pre-SOMA clubs at Oregon State University and the University of Oregon are an ideal partnership for COMP-Northwest’s SOMA club.”

Students with WesternU COMP-Northwest’s SOMA club reached out to Oregon State University’s pre-med advisor to gauge interest, and made contact with Coby Cates, a BioHealth Sciences student at OSU. Cates, Dr. Pham, and second-year WesternU COMP-Northwest medical student Kyle Bertram met last summer to discuss formation of the club. “That was really the beginning of something special, and it has helped students both at OSU and UO,” Cates said. He founded and subsequently became president of the Pre-SOMA club at OSU. The club was recognized this month by the parent organization, SOMA, as the Pre-SOMA Chapter of the Year.

Bertram serves as student advocacy officer for the WesternU COMP-Northwest SOMA club. Together with second-year medical student Beth Kobza, the students worked closely with OSU’s newly-formed Pre-SOMA club to help guide them through the first year.

WesternU COMP-Northwest students hosted OSU students at a casting workshop last year, and plan to host more workshops. The school’s SOMA club hopes to tap into pre-medical events hosted by Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons of Oregon as a way to increase workshops for Pre-SOMA members.

“The most exciting part of this whole experience was when we got several WesternU students to participate in the SOMA event National Osteopathic Night Out,” Bertram said. “Roughly 12 to 15 students went to Corvallis to meet with about 20 OSU students. We had several undergraduate students tell us they never even considered or were aware of osteopathic medicine, but now because of Pre-SOMA they plan on applying to WesternU, and are excited for the possibility of becoming osteopathic physicians.”

OSU Pre-SOMA served as the impetus for the UO club. The president of UO’s Pre-SOMA club, Lisa Huynh, was awarded Officer of the Year honors by SOMA. Huynh has been accepted into the WesternU COMP-Northwest Class of 2022.

Cates and Huynh plan to travel to Washington, D.C. next month to accept the awards at SOMA’s annual spring convention.

“Pre-SOMA clubs helps promote the profession because students that interact with the clubs will understand osteopathic principles and practices and can use that knowledge when applying to DO schools,” Pham explained. “It’s exciting to see these local chapters formed at in-state colleges, and I am very impressed with the COMP-Northwest SOMA Club for their leadership in spearheading these Pre-SOMA clubs.”

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