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First class of medical students graduate with college’s new name
Fifty-four percent choose to practice primary care, 63 percent to remain in Ohio

(ATHENS, Ohio – June 2, 2012) The 33rd Commencement of the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine signals a new era for the medical school.

The 115 graduates of the Class of 2012 are the first to receive diplomas with the college’s new name, so designated last year after it received a historic $105 million gift from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations. The Foundations gave the college the transformational gift to address some of the most pressing health care issues across the state and the nation – the impending shortage of primary care physicians and the diabetes epidemic.

Historic gift funds new primary care scholarships
Among this year’s graduates are the first 12 recipients of the new Osteopathic Heritage Foundations Primary Care Incentive Scholarships, which were established with funding from the April 2011 Osteopathic Heritage Foundations gift. The $15,000 scholarships were established to assist fourth year medical students who are lifelong Ohio residents who make a commitment to go into a primary care residency programs in Ohio, and will then go on to practice in Ohio in a primary care specialty of family medicine, general internal medicine or general pediatrics.

Recipients of the award include Lindsay Rachelle Bradbee, D.O.; Victoria Marie DiGennaro, D.O.; Amanda Christine Ferrell, D.O.; Carl R. Fry, D.O.; Stephanie Kay Hertz, D.O., Nicklaus James Hess, D.O.: LaQuita Marie Jones, D.O.; Jennifer Ashley Lazor, D.O.; Stephanie Marie Maus, D.O.; Rebecca J. Schroeder, D.O.; Louis E. Volino, D.O.; and Gwendolyn Leigh Welsh, D.O.

Including the members of the Class of 2012, OU-HCOM has graduated 2,898 physicians and surgeons. Sixty three percent of the new graduates will remain in Ohio for their residency programs, and 54 percent will enter a residency in a primary care specialty.

Saturday’s event also was the last Commencement ceremony that Jack Brose, D.O., addressed the graduates as dean of OU-HCOM. This year marks his 11th graduation ceremony as dean. At the end of June, Dr. Brose will step down from his position as executive dean of health affairs at Ohio University and dean of the medical school to accept a new position as vice provost of health affairs in Ohio University’s Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.


“In his 30 years at the college as a faculty member and researcher, more than 10 of those serving as dean, Dr. Brose has made indelible marks on the college, the university and medical education in Ohio,” said Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis, Ph.D.

During his tenure as dean, the medical school became the fourth named college on campus thanks to the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations’ gift, the largest single gift in the history of higher education in Ohio, Dr. McDavis noted. Dr. McDavis added that the number of students at the college increased by 40 percent and new facilities were built including one for research, another for clinical simulation and the college’s free clinic. OU-HCOM also is developing a new medical school campus in central Ohio.

“We are very proud of Dr. Brose and his leadership, his advocacy, and his contributions on behalf of primary care education, service to the underserved, and medical research,” Dr. McDavis said.

Interest in family medicine started early for OU-HCOM graduate
Since first volunteering in junior high school to work with pediatric patients in the hometown hospital where she was born, Lindsay Rachelle Bradbee, D.O., knew she loved family medicine.

During high school, Dr. Bradbee became a state tested nursing assistant working at the hospital’s medical-surgical floor, as well as holding a part time job at an assisted living facility. “I wanted to experience health care at all stages of life,” she said.

“The ability to care for an individual throughout all the stages of their life underlines a continuity of care present in family medicine that is not often found in any other specialty,” Dr. Bradbee said. “I appreciate the role of continuity in the care of an entire person and have a genuine respect for the responsibility of the family practitioner.”

During her undergraduate years of college, Dr. Bradbee became involved with a children’s medical mission that provided life-saving medical interventions for children from impoverished countries who came to Ohio for medical care. There she served as a primary caretaker for children. Since then, she has travelled to southern Mexico, Ghana and Liberia to work in orphanages and advocate for the medical needs of orphaned children with special needs. 

“Every time I arrive in these impoverished countries, the shock and horror I feel when witnessing their living conditions and health disparities remains the same,” Dr. Bradbee said. “In addition to realizing that mission work will always be a part of my life, the importance of simple health care education and preventative medicine was made so clear to me.”

Her experiences made such a deep impression on her that while completing her clinical rotations the past two years, she and her husband adopted a special needs child from Nigeria.

“The efforts of Lindsay and her husband to provide for the healthcare and social needs of their new son while she was continuously performing at an exceptionally high level on her rotations illustrates how remarkable Lindsay is,” said Nicholas G. Espinoza, D.O. (’90), CORE assistant dean.

Dr. Bradbee was one of the 12 recipients of this year’s Osteopathic Heritage Foundations Primary Care Incentive Scholarships, and she received the OU-HCOM Family Practice Award. Bradbee will begin a family medicine residency at the Promedica Toledo Hospital in Toledo.

International experiences influenced new family medicine physician
Visiting other countries also influenced Sara Thorp, D.O., who was named 2011 Student D.O. of the Year, an award presented by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents.

What finally pushed Dr. Thorp to apply for medical school at OU-HCOM was an encounter she had with a D.O. at a free clinic in the highlands of Guatemala. Dr. Thorp was impressed with this physician’s hands-on personal approach, and how he cared for his patients and empowered them by teaching them home exercises and performing osteopathic manipulation medicine as treatment.

“At 24, I had never heard of osteopathic medicine,” Dr. Thorp said. “But after working with Craig Allan Dietz, D.O., for several days, seeing his skill and his empathy, and learning about his training, the light bulb went off. I'd found a path through medicine that felt right for me.”

After graduating from Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., Dr. Thorp lived and traveled in 22 countries outside of the U.S. often doing active work in health care. She explained that she tried to learn about how people live, what they struggle for, and how social and political systems affect lives.

Prior to matriculation at OU-HCOM, Dr. Thorp participated in a variety of health care initiatives in Bolivia, Guatemala and South Africa. Her efforts in those locations ranged from researching medical, legal and social support resources for sexual assault survivors, to working with HIV prevention, service and political organizations.

“Seeing how other countries have worked to overcome these injustices in health care has been humbling and inspiring and has encouraged my efforts towards new systems in the U.S. beyond the market-driven health care model that is such an obvious failure for so many,” said Dr. Thorp.

After graduation, she will start a family medicine residency program at Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura, California.

“[The family medicine residency at Ventura] will prepare me to work anywhere in the world, and I'll be training alongside a team deeply committed to serving marginalized patients and transforming the unjust systems that lead to inequitable distribution of health care,” said Dr. Thorp.

Dr. Thorp also was the recipient of OU-HCOM’s Social Medicine Award.

Research lies at the heart of both the education of and the practice of medicine
“Research is an important part of becoming a physician, because medicine involves life-long learning,” said Paul Eichenseer, D.O.

The recipient of this year’s Biomedical Sciences Award, Dr. Eichenseer worked as a research associate at the Ohio State University prior to beginning osteopathic medical school at OU-HCOM. “It’s so important to do research as a student, a resident and as a physician, because it keeps you up on the cutting-edge knowledge in medicine,” he said.


During his second year at OU-HCOM, Dr. Eichenseer was the first recipient of the Sybert Family Orthopaedic Research Award, designed to promote osteopathic student research in the field of orthopedics. As a third-year medical student, he was the principal investigator on an article published in the October 2011 edition of Spine, titled “Finite element sacroiliac joint ligaments.”

Most recently, Dr. Eichenseer joined forces with his mentor, Daryl Sybert, D.O. (’86), to co-found and become the principal investigator for the New Albany Surgical Hospital’s Computational Biomechanics Lab. “I saw that it was something that we didn’t have, and I approached Dr. Sybert about it. It’s something that we can use as a base of operations for various types of research, enabling us to collaborate with OU-HCOM, Ohio State and other physicians,” he said.

“I think that medicine is at a point that you always have to be up and current on research and literature to make the best decisions possible for your patient,” Dr. Eichenseer said. “And I think the best way to understand the literature and the research that you are reading is to have been through the process yourself.”

Dr. Eichenseer will enter an orthopedic surgery residency this summer at Affinity Medical Center in Massillon, Ohio. He was also the Mount Carmel West Medical Center recipient of the Centers for Osteopathic Research and Education Award.

Mentors share in graduates’ achievement
Seventy-two of this year’s graduates received their ceremonial hoods from mentors, someone who was closely associated with their academic program. “Allowing the mentors to hood the graduates signifies the important role these physicians played in the students’ professional education,” noted Brose. Twenty-nine of the students choose an OU-HCOM alumnus as a mentor.


Fourteen OU-HCOM graduates headed to military medical residencies.
Fourteen of the graduates will be entering military medical residencies this summer, the most OU-HCOM graduates in one class to do so. After Saturday’s ceremony, the 14 physicians were commissioned as officers in a special ceremony. 


“There is no better medicine than that practiced in the military,” said Dr. Brose, who himself served nine years as a physician in the United States Air Force. “Military medicine uses a lot of osteopathic medicine as it emphasizes preventing disease as opposed to treating disease. Becoming a solider is a lot like becoming a physician because it becomes a part of you,” Dr. Brose said. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for protecting our nation.”

The physicians entering military residencies include Ryan V. Burkhart, D.O.; Dominique Starr Crosby, D.O.; Stephen Lee Fostyk, D.O., Justin Paul Gusching, D.O., Emily Marie Heckendorn, D.O.; Melissa Flannery Holland, D.O.; Jeanne Ocheze Hunter, D.O.; Candace Patrice Moore, D.O.; Carl W. Noble, D.O.; Chase Andrew Scarbrough, D.O.; Samuel Nelson Sigoloff, D.O., Jayme Ann Vogt, D.O.; Erika Alyse Wager, D.O.; and Kenneth Robert Willaert, D.O.


Class leaders, alumni, and osteopathic physicians offer advice

Lauren Marie Fuller, D.O., past president of the OU-HCOM student government, and Lesley Anne Ramos Kellie, D.O., president of the Class of 2012, addressed their classmates by recalling their shared experiences and offering some collegial advice.


Dr. Fuller thanked the OU-HCOM faculty members for their assistance during medical school.


“We would not be competent doctors entering our dream residencies without those grueling days,” Dr. Fuller said. “For those of you who are physicians, I imagine the journey through medical school was as stressful for you as it was for us, but I hope you felt the same excitement we did when we passed an exam, mastered the history and physical examination, and scrubbed in on a surgery.”


Dr. Ramos Kellie reminded her classmates to honor their patients, families, educators and themselves by striving to care for our patients with the same passion and vigor that they would bring to the treatment of their own families.


 “Let us be the doctor who calls our patients ‘after business hours’ to check to see how they are doing,” Dr. Ramos Kellie said. “Let us take the time to sit down with family members and answer their questions. Let us show our patients our passion, our concern, and our desire to heal, treat, and comfort them.”


David Drozek, D.O., an assistant professor of surgery and 1983 graduate of OU-HCOM who gave the keynote address during the ceremony, told the graduates to weigh carefully their priorities.


“Make the right choice. Guard your time and resources. Be frugal. Be wise. Be focused and proactive, so that you can take a half-day off to serve in the free clinic and a couple of weeks to go to Latin America,” Dr. Drozek said. “You are needed to serve those nearby and around the world.  You are also needed to invest in the lives of those coming after you as mentors, teachers and preceptors.  Be ready!  Be willing!  Be able!”


Dr. Drozek concluded by thanking the students for allowing him to be a part of their educational experience. “I have great hope and faith that our global health care system will have a better future because of you, and that you will help to make our world a better place,” he said.


Other speakers included John Ramey, D.O. (‘92), president of the Ohio Osteopathic Association; Robert Juhasz, D.O., a member of the board of trustees of the American Osteopathic Association, and Jeffrey Stanley, D.O. (’82), president of the OU-HCOM Society of Alumni and Friends Board.

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Last updated: 01/28/2016