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Annual SGA Auction on ATSU’s Kirksville, Missouri, campus benefits student travel

A.T. Still University (ATSU) students, faculty, and staff gathered in Centennial Commons on the Kirksville, Missouri, campus, March 10, 2023, for the annual SGA Auction.

This event raises money for the student travel fund, with items donated by students, faculty, staff, and Kirksville-area businesses. 

Several dozen items were available as part of a silent auction, while items like dinners with faculty members, golf packages, and more were part of a live auction hosted by ATSU-KCOM student Matthew Delzell, OMS II.

Two third-year A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS) Occupational Therapy program students were recently selected to present at the Western Regional OT Spring Symposium (WROTSS) in Las Vegas. 

Students Dalenna Bellum, OTD, ’23, and Jacqueline Morrison, OTD, ’23, presented their doctoral capstone projects at the conference on March 4, 2023.

OTD students are required to submit their capstone projects for presentation or publication. These capstone projects represent a culmination of everything OTD students have learned throughout their time in the program.

“This was the first professional conference I have attended and I had a great experience both as an attendee of the conference and as a presenter,” said Bellum.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to not only network with other OT practitioners and students from Arizona, but also from other states. It was great to see what has been beneficial in practice in other settings and states as well,” Bellum added. 

This symposium brings together occupational therapy associations from the Western U.S., where attendees can network, develop their professional skills, listen to presentations from leaders in the field, and more. 

“My experience presenting at WROTSS was great! Of course I was nervous at first, but I had a very supportive and engaging audience. I was also able to network with other students and occupational therapists, which was nice,” said Morrison.

A.T. Still University-Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM) students celebrated a birthday of sorts for the University’s Drabing Human Patient Simulation Center birthing simulator, while announcing some exciting new technology coming to the campus soon.

The current birthing simulator has delivered 1,416 babies with ATSU-KCOM students, and members of the L.Linton Budd OB/Gyn Society gathered to discuss how much the technology has meant to them in their education on the Kirksville, Missouri, campus. 

Lisa Archer, BSN, RN, CHSE, director of simulation & performance assessment, announced the current birthing and newborn simulators will soon be moving to warmer climates, heading to Texas to be taken to various campuses for demonstrations with students.

In its place, new state-of-the-art birthing and newborn simulators will be arriving on campus in a couple of months thanks to a very generous donation from the Tom J. & Edna M. Carson Foundation to the Dr. G. Barry Robbins Jr., Linda Robbins Langley, and Dr. Rick L. Robbins Professional Development Fund for the Drabing Human Patient Simulation Center.

Barry Robbins, DO, is a 1970 graduate of ATSU-KCOM and served as a neurologist in Kirksville until he retired. He has also served as an ATSU-KCOM faculty member. Rick Robbins, DO, is a 1977 graduate of ATSU-KCOM.

The new simulators include updated and additional features, such as a mixed-reality piece that allows students to see through the abdomen to visualize the internal birthing process.

A.T. Still University-School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA) student Ron Tang, OMS III, was recently awarded a Tucson Osteopathic Medical Foundation (TOMF) Founders’ Scholarship. Tang received $15,000 in total.

The TOMF Founders’ Scholarship is awarded annually to students at three osteopathic medical schools in Arizona and New Mexico, including Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine in Glendale, Arizona, and ATSU-SOMA.

Founded in 1987, the scholarship honors the five founding osteopathic physicians of Tucson General Hospital, and aims to help lessen the financial burdens of medical school while promoting innovation among the future DOs of the profession. 

At ATSU-SOMA, Tang is a member of Sigma Sigma Phi National Honor Society, co-president of the University’s Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA) chapter, and a student ambassador.

Read more about Tang in a Q&A session with TOMF here

Talk to one of the many second-year A.T. Still University (ATSU) students who work as tutors with ATSU’s Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) program, and you’ll discover they all have one big thing in common – a passion for sharing knowledge with their peers.

“Everybody faces challenges. Life happens while you’re a med student, and if we can be more specific in pinpointing areas to help students overcome those challenges, we want to do that,” said Marcie Stansberry, MEA, learning specialist and supervisor of the PAL program.

The PAL program provides residential program students with free tutoring through individual, group, walk-in, and virtual sessions, which are led by student tutors, called PALs. Each PAL is a second-year student who has demonstrated academic success throughout their time at ATSU.

“You just learn so much during your first year of medical school, and then being a second-year student you realize all the pitfalls that made it so much more difficult,” said ATSU-Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM) student and PAL Jordan Erickson, OMS II. 

“I really wanted to give some of that wisdom to the first years, so they didn’t repeat a lot of the same mistakes I did, as far as bad study habits or over stressing about something that is really manageable. I just really wanted to pass it along,” he added.

Like Erickson, ATSU-KCOM student Victoria Cantoral, OMS II, also felt as though the mistakes she made and struggles she faced during her first year influenced her decision to become a PAL. Not only that, Cantoral’s experience as an out-of-state student had an impact as well.

“If you like to teach concepts, and you’ve been through hardships and came out successfully, then you should share those tips, because that was a lot of it for me,” Cantoral said. 

“Especially for someone who’s not from the Midwest, adjusting to Kirksville in itself was a huge thing first year for me, on top of the lecture material. I think if you’ve overcome obstacles, you came out successfully, and you want to share that positivity and inspiration, then you should definitely go for it.”

For many second-year students, being a PAL means so much more than providing this academic support.

ATSU-KCOM student Moatasim Baig, OMS II, explained, “A lot of times, students just want to know they’re not alone, and that as first years, even for us, we struggled. My mentee comes in every week, and I feel like we’re friends now. He just wants to hear that it’ll be fine. He’s seeking that emotional support, which I feel like a lot of medical school classmates don’t have in their relationships, because it’s so competitive.”

By providing a non-judgemental outlet to talk about their struggles openly, in addition to their academic challenges, the PAL program serves as a safe space for all students, and can help first-year students feel less alone.

“It’s more than just teaching or helping students come to understand the material, it’s about the whole person, and being able to relate to their experience and their struggles,” Stansberry said.

The PAL program is led by Learning Resources, and is active on each ATSU campus, with students from all programs participating and sharing their program-specific knowledge. Learning Resources also offers workshops throughout the year with different themes centered around improving learning and academic performance, such as classes on time management.

Not only does the PAL program have an impact on first-year students, but many second-year PALs feel as though they have grown through their time in the program. 

“We’re strengthening our knowledge from first year, all of those tedious biochemistry details and histology, but aside from that, I love this program because I feel like it’s going to make me a better doctor for it. We’re expert listeners at the end of the day. Sometimes students come in to just vent, they’re stressed, they’re tired, and I think it’s really strengthening that aspect of healthcare that is so important for us going forward,” Cantoral said.

A.T. Still University’s (ATSU) Office of Diversity & Inclusion hosted the 2023 Diversity Festival on Feb. 23, 2023, where students, faculty, staff, and community members had the opportunity to learn from each other while coming together to celebrate and uplift diverse voices at this fun, free event. 

Held on ATSU’s Mesa, Arizona, campus, the event featured community vendors, food trucks, and multicultural activities. Student organizations, along with local vendors, hosted tables where they could share resources and information with attendees.

One of the highlights of the evening was ATSU’s Got Talent, where students showed off their variety of talents, including singing, magic, dance, and Native American flute playing. 

ATSU-Arizona School of Health Sciences’ (ATSU-ASHS) Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program was the winner of this year’s Diversity Festival Championship Cup, which is awarded to the academic program with the highest attendance percentage. 

Check out these photos from the event…

A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) and the Arizona Dental Foundation partnered up on Feb. 24, 2023 for the 16th annual Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) event at the University’s Mesa, Arizona, dental clinic, where 90 uninsured children received free dental care.

Approximately 270 ATSU-ASDOH students participated in this year’s event as assistants, providers, escorts, and characters. ATSU-ASDOH faculty, staff, and alumni also assisted throughout the day’s events, along with local volunteer dentists.

Launched nationally in 2003 by the American Dental Association (ADA), the GKAS program provides free oral healthcare for underserved children with a goal to ensure access to quality oral healthcare for all.

Since its founding, GKAS has provided dental care for more than 7 million children across the U.S. Each year, more than 6,000 dentists and 30,000 dental team members volunteer at local GKAS events in their communities.

Services provided at this year’s event included preventative care, such as comprehensive exams, cleanings, sealants, fluoride varnish, and more, in addition to any emergency care needed.

“We changed the focus this year and instead of one big day providing restorative treatment, our new goal is to bring these patients back on a monthly basis to establish a dental home for them,” said Jessica Hochschuler, D3, GKAS co-chair. 

Hochschuler explained that if a child did end up needing aftercare, their guardians were contacted afterward in order to schedule their child’s next dental visit in ATSU-ASDOH’s pediatric department.

In addition to providing dental treatments, ATSU-ASDOH students also organized an outdoor carnival, where they set up carnival games and face painting for the pediatric patients after they received their treatments.

First-year dental students dressed up in a wide variety of costumes to help ease nerves and make the day more fun for all in attendance. From princesses to superheroes to cartoon characters, there was no shortage of creative characters to help spread smiles at this year’s GKAS.

Check out photos from this year’s event below!

For A.T. Still University-College for Healthy Communities (ATSU-CHC) student Francis “Frank” Lagattuta II, PA, ’24, the last few years have been what you might consider serendipitous.

For years, he worked as a substance abuse counselor, making his way up as the director of behavioral health at a local medical center in Santa Maria, California. 

But eventually, Lagattuta said he realized he needed to do more. 

“I can only do so much, and folks need access to medication assisted treatment, they need access to mental health treatment, and not just therapy. These people need psychiatric care, they need medication management. So I said I need to broaden my scope because, quite frankly, there is a huge shortage of providers. That’s really what drew me to becoming a PA,” he said. 

As a married father of five, Lagattuta said this dream wasn’t fully realized until ATSU’s Central Coast Physician Assistant (CCPA) program came to Santa Maria.

He explained, “I mean, what am I going to do? Relocate my entire family to go pursue a dream when I’m 35 years old? That’s out of the window. My wife and I, I remember saying, ‘Somebody’s looking out for us. Somebody’s saying there’s a need here, and we’re being given a crazy opportunity.’”

Lagattuta and his wife, Norma, are now both enrolled in the CCPA program, with Norma expected to graduate this year and Frank in 2024.

“We’ve graduated twice together now, and we are very deeply rooted in Santa Maria. My wife has been out here for her entire life. I’ve been out here for about 15 years now. We graduated from our local community college, Allan Hancock College, together, and then we graduated from Arizona State University together,” he said. 

ATSU’s arrival in Santa Maria wasn’t just good timing for Lagattuta’s education, but also for his personal mission. 

Throughout his career, Lagattuta has had a passion for developing more integrated care for those suffering from substance use disorders and mental health issues. In 2016, Lagattuta founded LAGS Recovery Center, a behavioral health and addiction services center where he continues to serve as CEO. The center officially opened its doors on June 1, 2021.

At the recovery center, individuals have access to a wide range of services, from intensive outpatient treatment to primary services such as substance abuse counseling, parenting workshops, and individual therapy.

The center employs multiple psychiatrists and PAs who specialize in psychiatry and mental health, as well as a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and several substance use counselors. 

Individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness also have access to services at the Road to Recovery Navigation Center, which is located roughly 10 minutes away from LAGS Recovery Center.

The navigation center opened in November 2021, and provides access to meals and mobile showers throughout the week, as well as resources to help secure housing or jobs and find financial support. 

“A lot of folks suffering from homelessness are also suffering from addiction, mental illness, and more often than not, they’re co-occurring. And even more often than not, these folks have not seen doctors in years,” he said.

In addition to both of these centers, the 40-bed Road to Recovery Shelter, also founded by Lagattuta, is expected to open within the next few weeks.

“In essence, I’m combining emergency shelter services with residential treatment services in order to improve long-term housing retention rates,” he said.

Lagattuta explained most homeless shelters in the system of care in California only allow people to stay in shelters overnight, and after six or seven in the morning, they must exit the facility. However, this won’t be the case at the Road to Recovery Shelter.

“Of course, folks are free to leave, but we will be providing them with the option to be able to stay there, have breakfast, and then go meet with perhaps a psychiatric physician assistant. They can go meet with the family med doctor…and then they can meet with a therapist, and they can go and participate in, whether peer-led or by a substance abuse counselor, psychosocial and psychoeducational group treatment.”

The intent of providing all of these services in close proximity to each other, Lagattuta said, is to stabilize people as quickly as possible. 

“I’d like to say we do things a little bit differently here. We really focus on each person, and that was one of the things I loved about ATSU, too. Both of our missions are so congruent there, they both aligned so well. This program coming to Santa Maria, the school aligning with not only my work mission, but my personal philosophy and my personal mission, it’s all been too good to be true,” he said. 

A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Health Sciences’ (ATSU-ASHS) Doctor of Athletic Training (DAT) program recently held its annual Winter Institute, where students and faculty came together to share ideas, learn more about the athletic training profession, network, and more as part of a four-day learning retreat in Gilbert, Arizona. 

“It has been incredible,” said attendee Christina Fanning, DAT, ’23, MS, ATC, LAT. “I really like being challenged. Because I’m around 35 to 40 people who think differently than me and have different backgrounds than me, when you ask a question or when we have a conversation, it’s just a new perspective.”

Each day of the institute is focused on a different topic centered around presentations and group discussions. Day one’s theme, for example, was advancing leadership and innovation. On this day, students listened to presentations on negotiating for oneself, getting started with advocacy, and uplifting diverse voices. 

This is the only in-person requirement of the online DAT program, which is designed to be flexible to enable athletic trainers to obtain their doctoral degree while furthering their professional careers. 

Students traveled from around the country to attend this institute, and for many, this was the first time meeting their classmates face-to-face. This led to the sharing of unique perspectives, diversified conversations, and new outlooks for all in attendance. 

“It’s been very engaging. It’s really interesting to hear everyone’s opinions and just think about how we can push the profession forward in the future, and it’s really cool to get to see everyone in person, too,” said Mishaal Amjad, DAT, ’23, MS. 

Throughout the week, students deepened their knowledge of the profession and came away with many of the skills needed to excel as athletic trainers. And for some students, the Winter Institute served as a reminder of their passion for the profession. 

“Honestly, between the pandemic and trying to find my place professionally, there hasn’t been a lot of times that I’ve been super excited about the profession, or just my job in general. The Winter Institute, and even my time in the coursework, there’s these little glimpses of motivation,” said Aaron Herbst, DAT, ’26, MS. “It’s transformative, it’s motivating. It makes me want to do more.”

A.T. Still University (ATSU) recently named Brian Schuman as the University’s new director of safety & security. Schuman assumed the role on Jan. 17, 2023. 

As director, he will be overseeing security for all ATSU campuses. Previously, Schuman served with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in various security roles, including 16 years as police chief at three VA healthcare systems. He has also spent time with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including three years as a federal air marshal and six years as a supervisory police officer/lieutenant.

Get to know Brian Schuman and learn more about his background and experience, along with some of his safety tips!

Q: Hi Brian! Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this Q&A session. Could you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself? 

A: I am happy to and appreciate the opportunity. I have been happily married for 26 years to my beautiful bride, Kristin, and we are very proud of our son, Destry, who resides in Flagstaff, Arizona, with his girlfriend, Allison, where he works as a wildland firefighter.

I am a U.S. military veteran, having served in the Navy as a hospital corpsman working L&D/Mother-Infant at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. Following my time at Balboa, I served as an EMT on board the USS Nimitz, working in the sick bay of a very busy aircraft carrier.

I have spent the last 26 years serving in various law enforcement roles, with the final 17 years serving as a chief of police and regional chief of police for the Department of Veterans Affairs. During my career I have worked as a patrol officer, detective, physical security specialist, criminal investigator, and special agent. I retired on Dec. 17, 2022 after a total of 30 years of federal service. 

Q: What brought you to A.T. Still University? 

A: When my wife and I decided it was time to consider the next adventure following my retirement, we began looking at areas where we would like to settle down. We looked in Arizona, Kentucky, and Missouri, specifically, as all three states were places one or both of us had lived during our lifetime. I saw the announcement for ATSU in late November and applied for the position. Almost immediately I received communication from Tony Magliano, MS, senior director, university facilities, and from the outset felt like this was a good fit. My wife and I have a deep faith and rely on that faith in our decision making, which has served us well over the years. It didn’t take long for either of us to feel like we were being drawn to ATSU and the mission.  

When you look at my history you will see that I have focused my life in the medical field in one fashion or another, either in the patient care or healthcare administration side. ATSU allows me to continue that by serving as your safety & security director and focusing on the security of tomorrow’s healthcare providers. I shared with someone recently that I hope to see some of the healthcare professionals who graduate from ATSU as I am receiving my care at the VA Medical Center in Columbia or the out-patient clinic here in Kirksville someday.

I can honestly say that since beginning my ATSU journey, starting with the recruitment process, everyone has been so welcoming and kind. That goes a long way to being an employer of choice and encourages retention. I know it is a big reason why I am here in Kirksville today.

Q: How has your previous experience, such as at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, shaped your views on safety and security?

A: Having served as a federal air marshal and a federal police officer, I have learned the importance of community-oriented policing. Whether it’s working with flight crews and passengers at 30,000 feet immediately following the events of 9/11, or at some of the busiest medical centers in the country, I have learned that safety and security is everyone’s responsibility. It truly takes a village to build a safe and secure community.

Additionally, having served in law enforcement in busy hospitals, I became a staunch supporter of the Peelian Principles of Policing, which are the founding principles of modern policing and what it was intended to be. When working in the healthcare environment, many times we are seeing people at their most vulnerable, when traditional policing is not always practical or appropriate. I will bring that same mentality to the safety and security department of ATSU, where we are providing a safe and secure environment that allows our students to focus on learning, and our staff and faculty to focus on teaching and supporting tomorrow’s healthcare professionals.

My ultimate goal is to assure the families of our students, staff, and faculty that while their loved ones are here, they do not need to worry about their safety and security, and that there are dedicated professionals whose sole job is ensuring their safety and security day in and day out.

Q: What are some aspects of personal safety you feel as though people often overlook?

A: The importance of awareness. It is easy for us to get so involved in our day-to-day routines that we forget to consider that our personal safety starts with us. Just being aware of our surroundings and when something doesn’t feel right, reporting it. I have a saying I shared with every new employee orientation program that I have taught, “I would rather receive a hundred calls for the same incident that amount to nothing, than miss that one call that could have prevented a tragedy.” Be aware, and take care of your community family. We truly are in this together.

Q: How can students, faculty, and staff work together to create a stronger safety culture on campus?

A: It really comes down to committing yourself to your community. Watching out for one another and taking a stand when necessary to ensure we are all safe. If you see someone who is struggling or needs help, even if you don’t believe the resources are immediately available, report it. The resources may not appear available, but many times, with a community like ours, we can find the resources and may very well save a life. Additionally, If something doesn’t look right, or even feel right, notify security. Don’t blow it off. Just one person making one phone call has prevented tragedies. I have seen it firsthand. This is your community. Take a stand and get involved.

Q: How do you hope to engage with the ATSU community in your role?

A: As chief of police, I used to hold quarterly “Coffee with the Chief” events where staff, patients, and visitors could come sit down, share a cup of coffee (or in my case, a diet soda) and just talk. Sometimes I would have individuals want to discuss personal safety and law enforcement issues, or they would ask about personal and physical security topics. There were times they just wanted to talk about sports. I was good with whatever the topic was because it gave me the opportunity to connect with my community. 

I look forward to continuing that here at ATSU by instituting “Coffee with Security” events in the Commons. This will be an opportunity to have a free cup of coffee and just talk about whatever is on your mind, whether that’s safety and security related, the Kansas City Chiefs, upcoming finals, or even just the weather. 

Additionally, having worked in hospitals for the past 22 years in a law enforcement capacity, I am looking forward to setting up one-hour courses on practitioner safety in the hospital environment. These discussions will focus on red flags in disruptive behavior, safety in home healthcare, and personal safety awareness to name a few. I hope to give as much of my knowledge garnered over 22 years in hospital safety and security to better protect our ATSU community both on campus and beyond. 

Q: What is the No. 1 safety tip you can give to readers to stay safe? 

A: The most important safety tip is that safety and security is everyone’s responsibility. I have learned in my 26 years of law enforcement that the communities that thrive are the ones where everyone takes an active role in watching out for one another. Whether it’s following a natural disaster or trying to prevent a human-created incident, being safety and security conscious and reporting things that are out of the ordinary creates an environment where everyone feels more safe.