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ATSU Board of Trustees member, alumnus Dr. John Thurman named Iowa Family Physician of the Year

John Thurman, DO, ’12, A.T. Still University (ATSU) Board of Trustees member and ATSU-Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine alumnus, was named 2023-24 Iowa Family Physician of the Year by the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians (IAFP) at the installation and awards banquet Nov. 17 at the West Des Moines Sheraton. 

The Iowa Family Physician of the Year award is presented to one outstanding physician in Iowa who best exemplifies the tradition of the family doctor and epitomizes the finest standards of family medicine, says a press release from IAFP.

“He is the most positive, upbeat person I have ever met,” a nomination letter said. “He made me feel as though I was his only patient. He has that unique ability to focus on the person in front of him to the exclusion of all the other things that could be distracting. I felt that he saw and heard me as an individual, not just another patient. You come to understand that he really cares about you and your health.”

An accomplished seven-year, active-duty U.S. Army officer with combat experience and double board-certified family medicine physician, Dr. Thurman earned his bachelor of science degree in systems engineering from the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point. He completed a family medicine residency at MacNeal Hospital, Berwyn, Illinois, and was nominated chief resident in 2014. He recently joined the USMA class of 2027 for the 14-mile Graduate March Back to West Point. Among his many honors, Dr. Thurman was nominated for physician excellence at Great River Health for going above and beyond in patient care.

Dr. Thurman currently practices in Fort Madison, Iowa. He and his family physician colleagues complete extensive training beyond medical school in order to be able to provide the best possible patient care, including a three-year residency; in-depth training across a human lifespan from birth to death; and are trained in many areas of medicine including pediatrics, geriatrics, internal medicine, psychiatry, surgery, obstetrics, gynecology, and community medicine.

The Iowa Academy of Family Physicians has 1,800 members and is a constituent chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians, which is one of the largest medical specialty societies in the United States with a membership of more than 129,000 family physicians, family medicine residents, and medical students.

A.T. Still Research Institute (ATSRI) hosted the 15th annual Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Symposium (IBRS) on Nov. 11, 2023, in Kirksville, Missouri, featuring more than 80 posters. 

The keynote speaker was Dennis Black, MD. Dr. Black is the James Dustin Buckman professor of pediatrics and professor of physiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. He serves as scientific director of the Children’s Foundation Research Institute of Memphis, as well as vice president for research for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and vice chair for research for the Department of Pediatrics. 

IBRS featured 66 in-person posters, with another 18 online. 

Winning research presentations were:

First Place Overall Student Competition Winner
Author: A.T. Still University-School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA) students Emily Koenig, OMS II, and Erin Silliman, OMS II
Sponsor: John Hu, MD, PhD, associate professor, anatomy, ATSU-SOMA
Project: Fatal outcome of pediatric immune thrombocytopenia: an autopsy case report

Second Place Overall Student Competition Winner 
Author: Jillian Smith, Rocky Vista University (RVU), Still OPTI
Sponsor: Ken Ramey, RVU, Still OPTI
Project: Effects of Osteopathic Manipulation on Longstanding Peripheral Neuropathy

Best Oral Presentation 
Author: ATSU-Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM) students Jonah Jerabek, OMS II, Samantha DeLuca, OMS II, Megan Rinkus, OMS II, Nivedita Biju, OMS II
Sponsor: Valena Fiscus, DO, MPH, assistant professor, internal medicine, ATSU-KCOM
Project: Improving Rural Access to Health with Community Health Needs Assessments

Jack Magruder Research Award (undergraduate student award)
Author: Zoe Vetter, Truman State University
Sponsor: Bill Miller, Truman State University
Project: Disrupting the KIX/c-Myb complex as a potential leukemia treatment

Neil J. Sargentini Memorial Award (basic science graduate student award)
Author: ATSU-KCOM students Samantha Akers, OMS II, Sofia Pomeroy, OMS II, and biomedical sciences student Alexis Klinner
Sponsor: David Middlemas, PhD, professor, pharmacology, ATSU-KCOM
Project: Hot plate nociception: Ketamine dose-response relationships at 45ºC

Clinical Graduate Student Research Award
Author: ATSU-KCOM student Alisha Relan, OMS I
Sponsor: Caroline VanSickle, PhD, assistant professor, ATSU, Des Moines University
Project: The Effects of Age, Sex, and Parturition on Human Bony Pelvic Morphology

Max Gutensohn Award (resident or post-doctoral fellow award)
Author: Brock Davis, DO, Northeast Regional Medical Center, Still OPTI
Sponsor: David Cleaver, DO, Cleaver Dermatology
Project: Unique Visual Progression of Palliative Treatment of scalp SCC

Enjoy these photos from the event:

Today, and every day, we are thankful for the generosity and dedication of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. It is the hard work and commitment from each of you that allows ATSU to successfully live its mission.

In observance of Thanksgiving, ATSU offices will close at 5:00 p.m. local time, Wednesday, November 22, 2023, and reopen Monday, November 27, 2023.

The Missouri Thompson Campus Center will close Wednesday, November 22, 2023, at 8:00 p.m. and reopen Monday, November 27, 2023, at 6:00 a.m.

Please click here to view library hours at each location.

Wishing you and yours a happy Thanksgiving!

Yours in service,

Craig M. Phelps, DO, ’84 

On this Veterans Day, we take a moment to express our deepest gratitude to all men and women who serve or have served in the military, including our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends. We are proud to have you as part of the ATSU family.

Veterans, today we honor your contributions, courage, and dedication, and we remain committed to supporting the military community as they continue their journey at ATSU. We encourage everyone to take a moment to reflect on the importance of this day and to express gratitude to all veterans and active-duty service members.

Thank you for your service, and happy Veterans Day.

Yours in service,

Craig M. Phelps, DO, ’84 President

A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Health Sciences’ (ATSU-ASHS) Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program student Anna Domasing, MSOT, ’25, was drawn to ATSU’s program because of its reputation, but has found more than just a strong occupational therapy (OT) department on the Mesa, Arizona, campus. 

She’s found a strong community.

“I genuinely enjoy the strong sense of community at ATSU,” she said. “It’s not only a place of academic learning, but also a supportive and inclusive environment. Events like the Super Puff, Founder’s Day, and bake sales offer a break from the rigors of academic life, but also foster a sense of togetherness among students from different fields of study.”

Domasing is from Mesa and earned a degree in clinical exercise science from Arizona State University. 

“I chose to attend ATSU’s Occupational Therapy program because of its outstanding curriculum, dedicated faculty, and strong emphasis on hands-on clinical experience,” she said. “I believe that this program aligns perfectly with my career aspirations and will equip me with the skills and knowledge I need to be a successful OT.”

Since beginning the program, Domasing has become a member of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) and serves as pelvic health co-lead, in addition to becoming a student ambassador.

“I wanted to be a part of the SOTA board as a pelvic health representative because I wanted to create awareness around the importance of pelvic health and initiate open conversation on uncomfortable but necessary topics regarding this area. What I love about being on the board is the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded individuals and expand my knowledge on amazing specialties in the field of OT,” Domasing said. 

“I became a student ambassador in hopes to be able to share my experiences as a graduate student. I understand how intensive and unnerving the process of applying to grad school can be, and I wanted to provide guidance and support to prospective students and help them navigate this important phase of their academic journey with more confidence and ease.”

When not in the classroom, Domasing enjoys day trips and exploring local destinations. She considers herself a foodie, and has genuine enthusiasm for discovering new places and trying out new cuisines. 

In the classroom, Domasing is honing her craft with eyes set on a future career making a difference in her community. 

“I aspire to become a skilled and compassionate occupational therapist, making a positive impact on the lives of those I serve,” Domasing said. “ATSU is instrumental in preparing me for this career by providing me with a comprehensive education and hands-on clinical experience. I believe ATSU’s holistic approach and dedicated faculty will help me become a competent health provider and make a meaningful difference in the field of occupational therapy.”

A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Health Sciences’ (ATSU-ASHS) Doctor of Physical Therapy program student Nolan Parkllan, DPT, ’26, is fully enjoying his time on the University’s Mesa, Arizona, campus, as he works toward a career as a physical therapist.

“Being an ATSU student is incredibly busy, but it is also very rewarding and fun,” Parkllan said. “You aren’t just studying all day. There is a gym next to campus that we get free access to, so that is always fun working out with classmates. There is a turf field that we play soccer at every Sunday connected to campus. 

“Student life isn’t just about being a student, it’s about taking care of your whole person health, and that’s what ATSU is all about.”

Parkllan is originally from Mesa and earned a degree in exercise science from Brigham Young University. In seeking his next level of education, Parkllan was led to ATSU because of the University’s mission.

“I chose ATSU because of its emphasis on whole person healthcare and serving underserved populations,” he said. “I also loved how the faculty and students treated me when I was on campus for my interview. They truly care about who you are as a person and want you to succeed and flourish in the field of physical therapy.”

Parkllan is a member of the Manual Therapy Club and a student ambassador. 

“I joined the Manual Therapy Club to become more comfortable with manual techniques on patients. It is a great opportunity to learn from the second-year students, and next year it will be rewarding to help the next class with their techniques,” he said. “It was a goal of mine to be a student ambassador so that I can help prospective students feel at home and comfortable while they are visiting ATSU. I also want to be a familiar face to new students during their first few weeks at school.”

Outside of ATSU, Parkllan loves spending time with my family. 

“I am married with two children, so doing just about anything with them brightens my day,” he said. “We love going hiking, playing basketball or soccer, and feeding ducks!”

He isn’t sure what specific practice setting is in his future, but ATSU’s pro bono clinic helps provide exposure to a wide range of possibilities. 

“This is a great resource for someone like me who wants to see a variety of patients. It also helps me take what I am learning in class and apply it to the real world, which is incredibly valuable for my professional career,” he said.

A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) class of 2026 student Jainik Patel, D2, has been an advocate of public health for as long as he can remember. So when it came time to choose where he would pursue his dentistry degree, ATSU-ASDOH was a perfect fit.

“I was naturally drawn to ATSU-ASDOH for its visionary approach to achieving whole person healthcare and for advancing health equity within the local community,” Patel said. “The program not only encompassed my mission to serve the underserved at its core, but it also demonstrated a devotion to cultivating highly competent healthcare providers that are fundamentally guided by the tenets of ethics, compassion, and advocacy at the forefront of healthcare delivery. 

“ATSU-ASDOH brings heart to the healthcare system, and I was left amazed by the range of clinical cases that students are able to experience throughout the program. Having the opportunity to serve as a provider within ATSU-ASDOH’s dental clinic, as well as through countless local outreach initiatives, would allow me to lay the groundwork for developing into a culturally competent and empathetic dental provider.”

Patel earned a bachelor of science in public health with a minor in chemistry from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in his hometown. He credits the student ambassadors who he met during his application and interview process at ATSU-ASDOH for influencing his decision through their assistance and guidance.

“For dental school applicants everywhere, it is second nature to exist in a perpetual state of fight-or-flight during interviews due to the uncertainty of interview outcomes. The student ambassadors guided my interview group throughout campus, took us to their sim clinic stations to show us what they were working on for the day, and they ended their tour by having lunch with us and giving us an unbiased outlook as to what student life is like at ATSU-ASDOH,” Patel said. “My own interview experience allowed me to realize the massive role that student ambassadors can play in calming the nerves and even giving applicants a reason to be excited about joining a family rather than a dental program. This underlying realization, in itself, is what brings me the greatest sense of fulfillment and joy for being a student ambassador with the potential of recreating the same excitement that I felt the day of my ATSU-ASDOH interview.”

In addition to having become a student ambassador himself, Patel is diversity, equity, and inclusion chair for the ATSU-ASDOH American Student Dental Association (ASDA) chapter, and vendor relations chair for ASDA District 10 Cabinet. 

“Because of the extensive opportunities to get involved with countless clubs, organizations, and extracurricular activities taking place across campus, there is a place for everyone here at ATSU-ASDOH,” Patel said. “I enjoy the diversity that can be observed within our campus, which gives us the privilege of interacting with people of similar goals that come from completely different backgrounds. Even apart from being a student ambassador, ways to become involved with student life at ASDOH include ASDA, American Dental Education Association, Ortho Specialty Club, and Endodontic Study Club. Having an on-campus YMCA location also comes with its perks because many students have basketball and volleyball games after school to let off steam from the school day.”

In his downtime, Patel, who has a passion for film and filmmaking, enjoys unwinding with a movie. During the cooler months in Mesa, Arizona, he likes playing tennis and hiking.

After graduation, Patel wants to own a private practice and serve underserved communities through work at nonprofit, free dental organizations. 

“It is a matter of fulfillment for me when it comes to giving back to my community, and I feel privileged to be in a position where that can be made possible,” Patel said. “ATSU-ASDOH is helping to build a steady foundation for my goals by allowing me the opportunity to work with marginalized populations on and off campus, with an utmost goal of maximizing oral health outcomes in people regardless of what they are able to afford.”

A.T. Still University of Health Sciences (ATSU) has been named a recipient of the 2023 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

ATSU was the first comprehensive health professions university to be named a HEED Award recipient in consecutive years (2017-18) and has now extended its achievement to a seventh consecutive year.

“A.T. Still University thanks Insight Into Diversity magazine for again recognizing the University’s commitment to and successes within the areas of diversity and inclusion,” said ATSU President Craig Phelps, DO, ’84. “Congratulations to Clinton Normore, MBA, vice president of ATSU diversity & inclusion, and his team on this recognition.”

“ATSU remains committed to ensuring access and opportunity for historically underrepresented groups (HUGs) in the health professions,” Normore said. “The University has initiated several programs over the last two years that affirm its commitment. The University is founded on innovative ideas that originate from and include diversity. Its mission-centered, data-driven approach to health professions education is measured through the HEED Award application process. We are extremely grateful to have been chosen again for this award.”

ATSU supports students who learn and serve in diverse, underserved, urban, and rural communities across the world. INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selected ATSU for its deep commitment to an educational and collaborative environment embracing cultural proficiency, highlighted by the University’s innovative Dreamline Pathways program, which received the 2023 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine earlier this year.

Through Dreamline Pathways, ATSU partners with school districts and community-based organizations, offering experiential learning opportunities to students. These collaborations introduce young minds to career opportunities in healthcare, and nurture students through campus and graduate student engagement opportunities.

“The Health Professions HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees – and best practices for both – continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a Health Professions HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for schools where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.”

As a recipient of the annual Health Professions HEED Award – a national honor recognizing U.S. health college and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion – ATSU will be featured, along with 64 other recipients, in the November/December 2023 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

For more information about the 2023 HEED Award, visit

A.T. Still University’s Thompson Campus Center hosted the annual Founder’s Day 5K recently in Kirksville, Missouri.

Gauge MacGregor was the top finisher overall, taking first place with a time of 18:30. Ashley Laskowski was the top women’s finisher, recording a time of 23:41.

Check out our photos from the event here…

Robust charitable giving to A.T. Still University’s Museum of Osteopathic Medicine provides the resources needed today to preserve osteopathic medicine’s rich history and distinction, while telling its story to a global audience. Donors who contribute $1,000 or more will be recognized, or may choose to honor someone special, with a commemorative plaque on the museum’s Wall of Honor. Gifts may be completed online at or by calling ATSU’s Development Office at 660.626.2494.

The Wall of Honor was recently unveiled during ATSU’s Founder’s Day celebration in Kirksville, Missouri. Watch the ceremony below…