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Kaylynn Schmitt receives ATSU-ASHS Exemplary Staff Award

Kaylynn Schmitt, administrative assistant for ATSU’s Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, received the Exemplary Staff Award from A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS) Staff Assembly. The award recognizes staff members who demonstrate outstanding service to the University, create opportunities for professional growth, and contribute to a team-oriented work environment.

“I could not be more thankful to my fellow staff members for recognizing me in such an amazing way,” says Kaylynn. “Each and every staff member within ASHS truly deserves this award and without them it would not be possible to support and drive the mission of our University. The ATSU-ASHS community fosters the ability to reach such standards and I am so very grateful to be a part of that community. ”

Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition!

Natalie Beissel, DO, MS, ’16, had just started her fourth year of medical school at A.T. Still University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA). The Minnesota native was completing rotations at El Rio Community Health Center in Tucson, Arizona. She was excelling academically–ranked in the top 10 percent of her class. Compassionate and energetic, she embodied traits of the ideal physician. In addition to being highly respected by faculty members and peers, she had a loving, supportive family. Her whole life was ahead of her, along with a promising career in internal medicine.

On July 30, 2015, everything changed. Natalie was killed in a tragic act of domestic abuse at her home in Tucson.

Her family members found themselves in a state of shock, disbelief, and unexplainable sadness.

In May 2016, the Beissel family attended the annual ATSU-SOMA Innovator’s Gala to award the first scholarship in Natalie’s name. The next day, at the ATSU-SOMA Commencement Ceremony, Natalie was granted her doctor of osteopathic medicine degree posthumously.

Approximately one year after her funeral, the Beissels held their first Bags for Nat event in support of domestic violence awareness. The event, which celebrated Natalie’s life and her fun-loving personality, raised nearly $23,000 in a single afternoon. Half of the proceeds went to her scholarship fund, and half went to the Domestic Abuse Project, a Minneapolis-based organization that provides programs to prevent domestic violence.

Bags for Nat was such a success, the family decided to hold another event the following year.

Last year, the family decided they wanted this initiative to become more than an annual event. They founded Love Conquers Violence, a nonprofit organization with a mission to honor Natalie and increase domestic violence awareness and education. While Bags for Nat will remain the primary event, Love Conquers Violence has added more events to reach families and children.

The Beissel family recently hosted the fourth annual Bags for Nat tournament. In the last four years, Love Conquers Violence has donated more than $84,000 to provide an annual scholarship of $2,500 to a fourth-year ATSU-SOMA student ranked in the top 15 percent of his or her class, who also demonstrates a caring personality toward patients and coworkers – a trait Natalie embodied.

A.T. Still University is so grateful to the Beissel family and the Board of Love Conquers Violence for the continued support of our students.

Learn more about Love Conquers Violence and how you can make a difference to those affected by domestic violence across the United States. 

Cynthia Cruz, DPT, PT, ’15, recently exhibited for A.T. Still University’s Post-Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program in Puerto Rico.

Dr. Cruz’s contributions to her field include educating students, alumni, and clinical instructors about advanced degrees in physical therapy. She has encouraged over 30 physical therapists in Puerto Rico to pursue a doctorate, elevating the profession and improving patient care.

Dr. Cruz was approached by multiple graduates who visited the exhibit to express their gratitude for A.T. Still University’s (ATSU) donations to students living in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria.

With the assistance of A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS) Randy Danielsen, PhD, PA-C emeritus, DFAAPA, Ann Lee Burch, PT, EdD, Tammy Roehling, PT, DPT, director, transitional doctor of physical therapy, and Tabitha Parent Buck, AuD, professor and chair, the University quickly organized a $25,000 emergency fund for the ATSU students in Puerto Rico. Thanks to the immediate efforts of ATSU President Craig Phelps, DO, ’84, and the controller’s office, the funds were distributed to each of the affected students within days.

ATSU continues to offer a valuable Post-Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program to physical therapists in Puerto Rico despite the devastation left behind in 2017.

Learn more about ATSU’s contributions to those affected by Hurricane Maria.

Elton Bordenave, PhD, MEd, director of the falls prevention program recently received an award from the Arizona Falls Prevention Coalition for his leadership in the delivery of evidence-based falls prevention programs in Maricopa County through A.T. Still University’s (ATSU) Still Standing Falls Prevention Outreach program.

Since the program began in 2008, more than 6,000 participants have attended falls prevention classes led by ATSU students. Students in every program of study at ATSU participate in Falls Prevention Outreach. The program is designed to minimize older adults’ risk of being injured in a fall, while bolstering their confidence and improving overall quality of life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults. Over the last decade, Still Standing Falls Prevention Outreach has addressed this public health concern, while providing valuable interdisciplinary learning opportunities for ATSU students.

Babak Nayeri, ND, FACFE, DAAPM, executive consultant, Healthy Aging, Arizona Department of Health Services nominated Dr. Bordenave for the award with the Arizona Falls Prevention Coalition.

Lise McCoy, EdD, MTESL, assistant professor at A.T. Still University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA) is the senior editor and director of Team Care Connections – Improving Team-based Care for Vulnerable Populations – a new digital magazine for healthcare professionals.

Dr. McCoy develops content for providers who are often working with patients with complex health and social needs. Each issue of Team Care Connections uses real-world scenarios and examples provided by health practitioners to present team-based strategies for tackling common challenges faced by primary care teams.

Each article included in Team Care Connections is guided by the needs and preferences of frontline providers. The magazine also includes a variety of engaging features to complement the articles. Icons throughout the magazine provide a map to interactive features such as videos, expert commentary, lightboxes, tips, and tools.

The second issue of Team Care Connections, Conversations about Moral Distress and Moral Injury, is scheduled for release in early 2020.

Visit Team Care Connections to see the premiere issue.

Christie Espiritu, PT, DPT, ’13, alumna of A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS) tells us about her journey to a career as staff physical therapist at Orlando Health in Orlando, Florida.

Q: Tell us about your career in the medical field.

A: As a physical therapist, I provide services that assist in re-establishing function, improving functional mobility, alleviating pain, and preventing or limiting permanent physical disabilities in patients with injury or disease. Being a physical therapist in an acute care setting, my goal is to help my patients return to their prior level of function. These patients may have had a total hip or knee replacement, experienced an acute stroke, or they are experiencing endurance difficulties due to exacerbation of congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. If a patient is having any issues that include, but not limited to strength, balance, coordination, activity tolerance, independence in mobility, activities of daily living, range of motion, or motor function, our goal is to strengthen and improve those deficits.

Q: Tell us about your passion for whole person healthcare.

A: I believe it’s most important to consider all aspects of health in our patients. Addressing their symptoms is first, but while also considering their mental and emotional health as well as social factors. I make an effort to refer or redirect a patient to resources or healthcare providers that would be most beneficial to them. I find that mental health is the most common issue my patients face; they are often anxious or depressed or have a history of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc. Taking care of the whole person is crucial in healing our patients fully and thoroughly.

Q: Why were you drawn to ATSU? What is your favorite thing about ATSU?

A: I have a few favorite things about ATSU. What immediately caught my eye about ATSU was their mission in focusing on whole person healthcare, community health, diversity, and underserved populations. I was also drawn to their vision of whole person care. I appreciated the support and encouragement that the physical therapy faculty and staff showed throughout my time in the program. I also felt I could look to them for any issues or problems I had.

Q: What is your most memorable moment at ATSU?

A: My first quarter at ATSU was exciting, but, of course very stressful and a huge adjustment. I moved from Florida and was living by myself with no local family. I was so homesick and also felt unsure of myself about handling the rigors of physical therapy school that I almost left at the end of the quarter. Ann Lee Burch, PT, EdD, MPH, who was our physical therapy program director and now the dean of ATSU-ASHS, immediately asked me to see her in office. I wasn’t quite sure what she was going to say to me and I thought she would try to convince me to stay. She did the opposite. She listened, offered other solutions, and was very patient, kind, understanding, and thoughtful. The care and concern she had for me as an individual was comforting and inspiring. After speaking with her and giving my decision more thought, I decided to stay and I am very grateful I did!

Q: Do you have any hobbies?

A: I really enjoy exercising, but I prefer working out in a class or group of people who are trying to better themselves and live healthy lives. I enjoy reading, riding my bike, watching movies with my fiancé, and eating at new restaurants and dessert shops.

Q: Can you tell me about a memorable experience in your career that changed your perspective?

A: I have too many to count! I was co-treating with occupational therapy and we had a patient who was very disgruntled and wasn’t very happy when we walked into his room to initiate our evaluations. I had a big smile on my face and he looked over at me and said, “What are you smiling for?” I was a little confused, shocked, but I also found it humorous. I took the opportunity to put a smile on my patient’s face and said something along the lines of, “I’m always smiling. Why shouldn’t I be?” We started laughing and my patient’s attitude flipped upside down and began to express his feelings and apologized for his initial attitude. I think it’s most important to really have sympathy and compassion for those going through health struggles. Often times they are frustrated because they don’t have adequate support at home, they don’t have insurance, and the list goes on. I make it a point to not take offense or take anything personal from my patients. Instead, show them kindness, listen and provide the best care they deserve. I’ve found that by doing so, they are most appreciative and grateful.

Q: How do you maintain professional satisfaction?

A: I remind myself why I started doing this in the first place: to help others, to make their experience as pleasant as possible, and to provide excellent care. Despite, the paperwork and pressures to meet productivity, my patients make it all worth it.

The Asian & Pacific Islander Health Professional Association (API-HPA), an organization on the Mesa, Arizona campus, held its second annual Interprofessional Education (IPE) Lunch and Learn on May 1.

Clarke Antonio, a second year doctor of physical therapy student and the interprofessional liaison for API-HPA, coordinated an interdisciplinary team of students from various programs consisting of student representatives from A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health, A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Sciences, and A.T. Still University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona.

Each student on the panel was given the same patient case study prior to the event and collectively collaborated to come up with a plan of care for their patient. At this event, each student shared with the audience the specific implications that would be addressed by their respective professional role in their health care team. Additionally, each student showcased an examination and/or intervention technique specific to their scopes of practice. 

Barbara Maxwell, DPT, MSc, THE, FNAP, PT, ’06, professor and university director of interprofessional education and collaboration for ATSU, was also present to speak about the importance of IPE as students and as future health care providers. 

Antonio’s main goal for this event was to educate students on the importance of communication and collaboration among various care team providers.

“It was a real joy to coordinate and collaborate with the student panel and help them share and showcase their professional skills, growing knowledge, and love for their respective careers,” said Antonio.

Students from A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH), A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS), and Arizona State University (ASU) came together on May 28 to participate in the first Interprofessional Education (IPE) Symposium on ATSU’s Mesa, Arizona campus.

This innovative and educational experience combined integral ideals of the ASU Speech and Hearing Science, ATSU-ASHS Audiology, and ATSU-ASDOH Dental/Orthodontic departments to improve the interprofessional approach to patient care.

The theme of the IPE Symposium was craniofacial anomalies, which are a diverse group of deformities in the growth of the head and facial bones.

Presentations were given by faculty leaders from ATSU-ASDOH, ATSU-ASHS, as well as ASU.

Participants plan to host a second IPE Symposium in the future and continue to improve the interprofessional approach to patient care.  

A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS) Dean Ann Lee Burch, PT, EdD, MPH, recently recognized three faculty members for their significant contributions to the University this past year.

John Imundi, PT, DPT, OCS, received the Educator of the Year award for excellence in teaching, inspiring students to think critically, and promoting intellectual curiosity.

The Distinguished Service of the Year award was presented to Bart Anderson, DHSc, MS, ATC, for excellence in service to the University, the community, and the profession.

Tara McIsaac, PT, PhD, received the Scholar of the Year award for excellence in the scholarship of discovery, integration, application, and teaching.

“As recognized by their fellow colleagues, Dr. Imundi, Dr. Anderson, and Dr. McIsaac exemplify excellence in teaching, research, and service through innovation, scientific inquiry, and community spirit,” says Dr. Burch.

Jae Hyun Park, DMD, PhD, MSD, MS, chair of the postgraduate orthodontic program at A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health, was recently appointed as associate editor for the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics (AJO-DO).

The AJO-DO is a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal covering orthodontic research. It is published by Elsevier and is the official journal of the American Association of Orthodontists. The AJO-DO is the most popular orthodontic journal and has the highest citation index.

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