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Diversity at ATSU

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Diversity at ATSU

A.T. Still University of Health Sciences is deeply committed to an educational and collaborative environment embracing cultural proficiency. Students striving to become the best healthcare professionals possible must understand and embrace society’s diversity. This is also true for ATSU’s faculty and staff.

Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO, founder of osteopathic medicine and ATSU, was a licensed physician and surgeon, healthcare innovator, abolitionist, civil war hospital steward, and suffragist who created opportunities for women in medicine as early as the 1890s.

Today, ATSU supports students who learn and serve in diverse, underserved, urban, and rural communities across America. ATSU’s alumni also practice, work, and volunteer across the world. Many hold leadership positions dedicated to bringing quality healthcare to those in greatest need.

Thank you for taking a few moments to explore ATSU’s commitment to cultural proficiency. We invite you to join us on our journey by exploring our website and following us on social media.






Yours in service,
Craig M. Phelps, DO, ‘84

  • Departmental message +

    • A.T. Still University has positioned diversity at the forefront of the strategic planning process. This only reinforces the historic value the University has for this aspect of our culture. The standard to be a preeminent university for health profession education isn’t a mere statement. ATSU lives these ideals for the sake of osteopathy and the evolution of the health professions. As the birthplace for osteopathic education, ATSU is fully invested in that legacy.

      The first overarching tenet of osteopathy is the unity of body, mind, and spirit. By understanding the precision by which the human body functions, one can appreciate the value of utilizing this amazing instrument to promote healing. Diversity education at ATSU also seeks to embody this tenet to induce inclusion at every level. Our mission is the spirit through which our body operates. Our collective minds deliver on innovation, collaboration and appreciation for differences. By valuing the difference that these differences make, we become increasingly reflective of the communities we serve. Our mission is centered on service. By serving our community partners, students, faculty, staff, and external partners, we are moving from cultural competence to a culturally proficient organization.

      The strength of our progression towards cultural proficiency is our ability to be reflective and to always aspire to move beyond where we are. This measure of excellence compels us to be a work in progress at all times - constantly moving forward. ATSU is a beacon for caring people committed to service, committed to the body as an instrument of healing and committed to inclusivity in its most sincere sense.

      Finally, ATSU believes excellence requires understanding, affirming and valuing human difference.

      I look forward to working on creating an all-inclusive and diverse community at A.T. Still University.

      Clinton J. Normore
      Associate Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion

  • Objective +

    • A.T. Still University strives to create a culturally rich community which embraces all forms of differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, origin of birth, age, religious beliefs, political beliefs, socio-economic status, physical characteristics, military service, title, academic background, and professional experiences. Inherent in ATSU’s mission is the belief excellence is inclusive—academic and intellectual, physical and physiological; cultural and social, spiritual and moral.

      We believe these attributes are expressed in our acceptance of difference, and our collective appreciation provided by these differences guides us in the development of a campus community reflective of the global community of which we are all a part.

      An authentic understanding and appreciation of difference is foundational to reaching cultural proficiency, which, at its core, is based upon the value each human being brings to our society and each person’s access and opportunities to contribute to our University’s cultural proficiency. The strength of our campus community as well as the potential of the global community is realized through this same understanding, affirmation, and value of human difference.

      Review and download the Diversity and Inclusion brochure (pdf)

      Review the 2015-20 Diversity Strategic Plan (pdf)

  • Student insights +

    • Kia Moore

      The day I had my braces removed was the day I decided I wanted to pursue a career in dentistry. After having severe crowding for years, I was overjoyed by how beautiful my smile looked and how confident I felt smiling and laughing. I enjoyed my overall orthodontic experience and hoped to one day provide joyous dental experiences for others. The field of dentistry will allow me to help others physically, mentally, and socially by improving aesthetics, removing decay, and easing discomfort. Oral health truly impacts an individual’s life.

      ATSU’s commitment to serving underserved populations is what originally attracted me to the University. The dual DMD and MPH degree, community health clinic external rotations, commitment to the underserved, and my warm and inviting interview experience at ATSU-ASDOH is truly what completed my decision.

      Kia Moore, dual degree program - doctor of dental medicine and masters of public health- dental emphasis student

      Linda Yonan

      As an ethnic minority member, I fled Iraq in 1990 in search of a better life. The present political situation in the Middle East forces me to consider those currently enduring what I was lucky enough to avoid. Consequently, I work tirelessly towards my education and career goals for myself and for those who are forced to pause their progress because of life’s unexpected adversities. I chose to pursue public health education because I look forward to giving back to a society that has accepted, supported, and developed me into the woman I am today.

      My sister was a member of ATSU’s inaugural SOMA class and spoke highly of the university to me throughout her time as a DO student. I was compelled enough to apply to the MPH program, and before I knew it, my sister and I were both graduating with our respective degrees from ATSU in 2011. My experiences with ATSU during my two years as an MPH student were challenging and helped me realize my passion for public health. I consider myself a lifelong learner, and knew that pursuing a doctorate was in my future. I chose ATSU for a second time because I found that the school fulfilled its mission statement and the health education curriculum aligned with my future aspirations.

      Linda Yonan, doctor of health education student

      Natalie Loyola

      ATSU’s whole person approach to healthcare and their focus on interprofessional education, diversity and underserved populations attracted me from the beginning. ATSU’s mission and vision is everything I wanted when choosing a graduate school, it was a perfect fit!

      Upon graduation, I hope to work in an underserved Spanish speaking community where I can help bridge the gap in miscommunication and quality hearing care. Also, hopefully continue to be involved in humanitarian audiology work and serve those out of the country. There is no better feeling in the world than to be able to help others.

      Natalie Loyola, doctor of audiology student

      James Lee I chose ATSU for a whole myriad of reasons but if I had to pinpoint one reason, it would be for it’s unique and innovative “one plus three curriculum” approach to medicine. Words of wisdom have been passed from senior physicians in my community that “you don’t learn medicine from a textbook” and that experience, seeing first hand, being proactive, and learning from your mistakes are the best skill sets to acquire to becoming a great physician for your patients. Also, did I mention, the faculty and staff at ATSU make you feel at home, away from home? Medical school is a long and difficult journey, but it’s definitely reassuring and gives you a sense of confidence knowing that you have a handful of talented colleagues and extremely supportive, loving faculty by your side, who all believe in and have the same vision.

      James Lee, osteopathic medical student

      Alexandra Wolf, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine student

      A.T. Still was a pioneer of his time: an allopath converted to osteopathy, abolitionist, and feminist. Given this rich history, innovative curriculum, and reputable success, it was a dream to be accepted to ATSU!

      I had always been interested in a career in medicine, but when my cousin passed of complications from lupus in 2001 I was invigorated to help others and make a difference in cases like hers. Later, I became a medical scribe and worked for osteopaths who showed that lifestyle changes are an integral part of medical treatment, which confirmed my vocation to pursue osteopathic medicine. Each and every patient comes from a unique background and is in their most vulnerable state. I hope to be a trustworthy doctor who can positively influence each person’s well-being.

      Alexandra Wolf, osteopathic medical student

      Nadia Syed, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine student

      There is this concept of osteopathic medicine where you look at your patient as a whole person, and not just a symptom. This core principle is something that I truly believe is good for the physician’s soul. The fact that ATSU started an entire branch of medicine based on this philosophy made me realize that I couldn’t make a better choice than KCOM.

      I’ve always believed that a life of purpose entails a responsibility to help others who are in need. My goal has always been to make a positive impact on as many people as I can, and going into the medical field was my way to achieve that. I know I wont always have the right answer, and I wont always have good news, but I will bring compassion to every patient I meet, and that’s something that I believe can make a difference.

      Nadia Syed, osteopathic medical student

      Joe Shortall, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine student

      I was attracted to ATSU by their dedication to a healthcare approach that integrates body, mind and spirit, community health and an orientation towards underserved populations. The D.O. legacy of expertise in Family Medicine and the use of one’s hands as a tool for both diagnosis and treatment was also important to me. I was excited to return to Tucson where, through SOMA’s partnership with Community Health Centers allows students to spend three years living and seeing patients within the context of an underserved community, I could continue my volunteer work and maintain my focus on Latino health. SOMA did not become my top choice, however, until I spoke with the Admissions Office over the phone and experienced how kind, welcoming and encouraging the staff was.

      I aspire to become an excellent Family Physician and Public Health professional who—through innovative approaches to addressing the Social Determinants of Health—helps eliminate disparities in healthcare affecting the most vulnerable populations locally and globally.

      Joe Shortall, osteopathic medical student

      During high school I had dreams of becoming a physician, however, I did not know what that looked like in reality. It was not until I was deployed to combat in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom that I revisited my earlier feelings of becoming a physician. I had a powerful experience with a little girl and her family at a hospital in Baghdad, which motivated me to pursue medicine again. I knew that I wanted to be in a position to be able to help others from a medical perspective.

      There is a sense of community at ATSU that instantly drew me in and continues to draw me. ATSU reached out to me with an opportunity to join them and I’ve always believed in a reciprocal relationship. I plan to practice medicine as long as I can and to hopefully one day return to ATSU-KCOM in some capacity to further the mission of the university.

      linkedIn logoJohn R. Thurman, Jr., DO, ‘12

      Jessica Markbreiter, ATSU athletic training student

      After learning more about ATSU’s post-professional Athletic Training program and patient-centered approach to healthcare, I knew ATSU would be the right fit for me. One thing I knew that would set me apart from other students who were entering the program was my physical stature. I have Achondroplasia Dwarfism, which is a genetic mutation that results in shorter limbs and standing height at four feet tall.

      Instead of identifying my difference as a crutch in my life, I use it to set myself apart and make it a unique characteristic about myself. I am always eager to educate others about dwarfism and to answer questions they may have.

      I am so grateful that my difference has been embraced at ATSU. The support I have received from everyone at ATSU is something I would have never imagined. ATSU isn’t just my school; it has now become my home away from home.

      linkedIn logoJessica Markbreiter, athletic training student

      Alexa Arastoo, osteopathic medicine studentt During my time in college, I became passionate about social and economic disparities. I believe good health is the biggest factors affecting quality of life, and I was inspired to pursue a career in medicine to do my part in alleviating inequities. When I first applied to schools, KCOM jumped out at me as an option that would coalesce with my goals.

      During my interview, I immediately felt validated and welcomed. Learning about how the school could be academically rigorous, innovative and also focused on community and “whole person” healthcare solidified my decision. I plan on becoming a primary care physician with a goal of working in areas that are currently under served.

      linkedIn logoAlexa Arastoo, osteopathic medicial student

      Bruce Wallace, osteopathic medicine student
      I grew up in a neighborhood where access to quality healthcare was a major issue. I soon realized the impact that this had not only on the physical, but the mental and emotional well-being of people as well. I decided to pursue a career in medicine because I wanted to have the tools to help people achieve a better life.

      I chose to attend ATSU, because of the welcoming and supportive environment. From the first day of classes, I felt my classmates have gone above and beyond to help me achieve my goals.

      Bruce Wallace, osteopathic medical student

      Renee Crawford

      I was five years old when I first decided I want to be a doctor, due primarily to the Fisher Price medical kits. I haven’t looked back since. I’ve always desired to work as part of a team, improving the lives of others. I’ve always been active in team sports. Medicine is a field that allows one to work with different individuals, as a team, to accomplish a common goal: work with the patient to improve/maintain a healthy lifestyle. When I went to college on an athletic scholarship, some people believed I would end up changing my mind from being a pre-med/biology major. Others thought my passion for the game would translate to me pursuing a career in coaching. Alas, I stayed focused on my dream of becoming a physician. The skills I attained as a point guard, i.e. the coach on the floor, amazingly are transferrable to the medical field. Physicians are more coaches and teachers for the patient; the goal is to educate the patient on obtaining and retaining health. Regarding the DO program, I applied to ATSU-SOMA because I agree with the osteopathic philosophy; the patient should be treated as a unit comprised of body, mind, and spirit and that all components need to be considered when treating the patient, not just the disease. Medicine is a fascinating field of lifelong learning and commitment. This drew me towards a career in health care.

      I chose ATSU for three main reasons: the emphasis on providing care to underserved populations, the 1+3 model – allowing for 3 years of clinical experience, and the school’s priority of producing great doctors. After one year on the Arizona campus, I am more grateful for the opportunity to learn at this institution. The opportunity for interprofessional exercises, during which students from the various ATSU programs work together to learn concepts being taught in their respective disciplines. The interprofessional education component prepares the student to work with professionals from various disciplines. Another aspect I enjoy is the family atmosphere. Family is an integral component of society and ATSU provides that atmosphere, from faculty to staff to students, where everyone is looking out for one another. Now that I have lived experiences in the ATSU community, there are five reasons I would apply: commitment to the underserved, 1+3 model, priority to produce great physicians, interprofessional opportunities, and family atmosphere.

      Renée J. Crawford, osteopathic medical student I grew up in a rural town that is federally

      Thomas Jackson
      I grew up in a rural town that is federally classified as a healthcare desert. I watched family members forfeit their health due to their inability to pay for healthcare services. I saw grandparents cut pills in half, and heard practically all the adults in my family voice their concerns about being able to pay for the healthcare needs of their children. I chose to pursue a career in healthcare to combat socioeconomic, racial, and other demography-based disparities in healthcare.

      I chose ATSU because, as the founding school of the Osteopathic philosophy, ATSU has a rich history of embodying the concept of whole-person healthcare, with the mission to serve all in need. Founder Andrew Taylor Still, DO, himself strove to be inclusive and equitable in his efforts to treat and educate others, and so naturally, ATSU seemed like the best place for me to gain valuable experiences in addressing health disparities.

      My goal is to work in the field of public health, where I will specialize in healthcare policy. With this training, I intend to help evaluate and develop legislation that promotes equity and inclusiveness in healthcare access.

      Thomas Jackson, biomedical sciences student

  • Calendar +