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An osteopathic legacy of giving: The Steinbaum-Levine Endowed Scholarship

The Steinbaum-Levine family visits the Kirksville, Missouri, campus in 2012 for the Steinbaum-Levine Legacy Hall dedication ceremony.

When David S. Steinbaum, DO, graduated from ATSU-KCOM in 1930, little did he know he would become the first in a long line of family members dedicated to the osteopathic profession. It was the Depression era, and he had returned to Bayonne, New Jersey, to be near his family. He set up his practice in his home, which was common for physicians at the time, and he treated many relatives, including delivering several nieces and nephews.

Over time, Dr. David Steinbaum’s home and practice grew to include his son-in-law, Howard M. Levine, DO, ’54, who practiced with him for 35 years, and then his son, Fred Steinbaum, DO, ’68, and grandsons, Steven M. Levine, DO, ’78, and Martin S. Levine, DO, ’80. As the patriarch was always accessible to his immediate and extended family members, his influence of compassionate patient care and service to the profession left a lasting impression on the younger generations.

“My father really loved the College and advocated for the profession,” says Dr. Fred Steinbaum. “He worked actively for ATSU-KCOM, and every year, he visited all the colleges in New Jersey to meet with advisors and talk about osteopathic medicine as a possible avenue for their graduates.”

The Steinbaum-Levine family has continued its legacy of service and philanthropy with local, state, and national osteopathic organizations and osteopathic schools, including ATSU-KCOM, which has graduated 13 of the family’s 22 doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs).

“Not only is the Steinbaum-Levine family generous financially, but they are also generous with their time and engagement in the osteopathic profession,” says Lori Haxton, MA, vice president, student affairs, ATSU. “They have been loyal to the College through the generations.”

The family members strive to support ATSU-KCOM and its students in perpetuity. Believing scholarship support is the current area of greatest need and reward, they recently re-established the Steinbaum-Levine Endowed Scholarship. Currently, this endowment produces a $10,000 scholarship awarded annually to an accepted first-year student who demonstrates strong academic achievement, motivation for the study of osteopathic medicine, and financial need.

Tulley Shofner, OMS I, receives the first Steinbaum-Levine Endowed Scholarship award.
Tulley Shofner, OMS I, receives the first Steinbaum-Levine Endowed Scholarship award.

The purpose of this endowed scholarship is to help address the financial pressure students face in today’s medical school environment. First-year tuition costs are at all-time highs, according to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, with the average annual cost over $50,000 for public and private osteopathic schools. This increased student loan debt, combined with decreasing physician reimbursement rates and time commitment to complete their education, weighs heavily on students who are contemplating school and specialty options.

In recent years, some medical schools have responded to these challenges by offering reduced and even free tuition. The goal of tuition-free education, which is often funded by donors through endowments, allows students to pursue the specialty of their choice, rather than feeling pressured to choose high-paying specialties. As more medical schools have announced plans to offset tuition costs, competition for students has increased.

“With ATSU-KCOM being a private institution, we have to compete with state universities for our students,” Haxton says. “Medical schools within public universities typically have lower tuition rates, which puts us at a disadvantage with students who are concerned about costs.”

Dr. Fred Steinbaum, who has represented the family in funding the endowment, says they are committed to growing the scholarship to support more than one student annually, as well as expanding the scholarship to a four-year award for each recipient.

“The medical profession has changed,” Dr. Fred Steinbaum says. “We need to have more opportunities in medicine for doctors who will serve underserved communities and promote a holistic and humanistic approach to medical care, like the approach I learned in Kirksville.”

Dr. Fred Steinbaum is passionate about education and teaching. A general practitioner and then medical
oncologist, he completed his training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) and went into practice with three doctors of medicine (MDs), two of whom also completed training at MSK and one at MD Anderson. He believes his DO background gave him an advantage over his MD colleagues when caring for patients and their families. Dr. Fred Steinbaum wants to promote the osteopathic approach and, through this scholarship, secure enrollment of students who will continue the osteopathic tradition.

In fall 2021, the Steinbaum-Levine Endowed Scholarship announced its first recipient, Tulley Shofner, a first-year ATSU-KCOM student from Denver, Colorado, and graduate of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

“My first encounter with osteopathic medicine was when I had a rotated vertebra, and I saw a DO who used osteopathic manipulative treatment to realign my spine,” Shofner says. “From then on, I was impressed with the holistic approach and emphasis on treating the whole patient with preventive and self-restorative, science-based medicine.”

Her commitment to osteopathic medicine was further strengthened with her volunteer and clinical experiences. She served as a leader for a health education outreach program and coordinated health discussions with residents of a transitional shelter. Through these discussions, she felt gratitude and reward from educating people about health topics and communicating science through conversations. In addition, she learned about financial and social hurdles for marginalized populations and structural shortcomings impeding equal access to care.

Shofner’s experiences have motivated her to pursue osteopathic medicine to provide quality care for her future patients and ameliorate some shortcomings of the healthcare system through her patient interactions. When Shofner received notification of the scholarship, she felt the financial award was a blessing. She also felt it was a vote of confidence in her potential, which was especially important during
her first semester at ATSU-KCOM as she transitioned into medical school.

“The faculty and administration tell us all the time that we belong here and deserve to be here,” Shofner says. “This scholarship was tangible evidence that they believe I can do this and make a good physician.”

Learn how you can support the osteopathic profession and future students like Shofner through the Steinbaum-Levine Scholarship Endowment or by establishing a similar endowment. For more information, please contact Brad Chambers, director of development, at bradchambers@atsu.edu or 660.626.2494.

“We are forever grateful to the Steinbaum-Levine family for their generosity and support to ATSU-KCOM.”
– ATSU President Craig M. Phelps, DO, ’84

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