New Medical School in Harlem - First in N.Y. State in 30 Years - Celebrates Grand Opening
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Inaugural Class Walks Hand-in-Hand with Kindergartners from Harlem’s P.S. 197 – “Class of 2024.”
Congressman Charles Rangel Delivers Keynote Address for College Designed to Provide Quality Education and Services to Minorities and Underserved.
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Donning pint-sized lab coats, fifty kindergarten children from Harlem’s P.S. 197 marched down the aisle of the famed Apollo Theatre Monday with a 135-member inaugural class of medical students. The occasion was the opening ceremonies for the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TOUROCOM), the first new medical school in New York state in 30 years.
The new TOUROCOM, which opened in early September, was founded to improve medical care in the Harlem community and increase the number of minorities practicing medicine. It is the first osteopathic college of medicine with a special emphasis on training minority doctors. Most clinical training will take place in Harlem and other underserved areas. Graduates will be encouraged to remain in Harlem to practice medicine.
"There is a need for a medical school in New York City to serve minority populations and the underprivileged," said Dr. Bernard Lander, founder and president of Touro College. "TOUROCOM will function as an integral part of the New York City/Harlem community and work with the community, local schools and other colleges and universities to promote the increased availability of medical services in Harlem, the study of medicine, and delivery of osteopathic medical services in a variety of settings."
One goal of the medical school is to encourage young people in Harlem to become medical professionals and practice in their community. The 50 youngsters at Monday’s ceremonies are part of Touro’s ASPIRE program, an elementary school initiative to facilitate health career aspirations of minorities. Fifty kindergartners will begin ASPIRE each year and continue through high school.
Congressman Rangel noted that, as of today, “Touro medical school coming to Harlem is more than just a dream.” Children in Harlem “being able to see young men and women with white lab coats and stethoscopes walking down 125th Street will mean kids from our schools will say, ‘Hey mom, what is that all about? I want to be one of them.’ It means an opportunity for young people to dream and achieve their dreams.”
According to school officials, the percentage of medical students of African-American and Hispanic backgrounds is very low and getting lower, and the number of American-trained medical residents in Harlem area hospitals is well below 50 percent. Additionally, Harlem has been designated by the federal government as an area short in physicians, according to a report by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Other speakers included Martin Diamond, DO founding dean of the school, and Dr. Muriel Petioni, MD, an African-American physician and activist who, at 93, is believed to be the oldest practicing doctor in the area.
“Harlem is an underserved area, with very few practicing physicians,” said Dr. Diamond. “It is our hope that the school’s active presence in the community will encourage the youth of Harlem to study science. We want to help them do that, so that in the long-term, the number of underrepresented minorities from Harlem in medicine will increase.”
Located in a renovated 100,000 sq. ft. building at 230 W. 125th St. across from the Apollo Theater, the new medical school boasts state-of-the-art medical education and laboratory facilities, including amphitheatre lecture halls, classrooms, offices, and facilities for clinical skills training and support. After the ceremonies, the crowd of students, faculty, administrators and guests from the community crossed the street to the school for a luncheon reception and a tour of the new facilities.
The degree offered at TOUROCOM is doctor of osteopathic medicine, DO. Like MDs, DOs complete four years of basic medical education and pass comparable licensing exams. Osteopathic medical schools encourage their graduates to become primary care physicians; however approximately 40 percent take their post graduate training in various specialties of medicine and surgery. DO's receive additional training in osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), which gives them a diagnostic and therapeutic advantage in providing the most comprehensive care.
TOUROCOM is the nation's 24th college of osteopathic medicine and Touro's third. In 1997, Touro opened a college in Vallejo, California and in 2004, its second, in Henderson, Nevada. TOUROCOM has received provisional accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association, Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation, and its program is registered by the New York State Education Department.