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NYIT’s welcome to medical students spans 1,100 miles

Wolfgang Gilliar, dean of NYIT's College of Osteopathic

Wolfgang Gilliar, dean of NYIT's College of Osteopathic Medicine, speaks to about 300 students during orientation at the school's Old Westbury campus, with the event streamed live to 120 students in the inaugural NYIT medical school class at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro on Aug. 3, 2016. Photo Credit: Uli Seit

The incoming New York Institute of Technology students were separated Wednesday by more than 1,100 miles but joined in common purpose — to undertake studies in the school’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

From the NYIT campus in Old Westbury, President Edward Guiliano and Wolfgang Gilliar, dean of the medical college, welcomed by teleconference the inaugural class in the osteopathic medical program at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, the Long Island school’s new addition.

The Class of 2020 — 313 students at the Old Westbury campus and 120 in Jonesboro — listened to the remarks that were part of their orientation week.

“You will all measure your start here as the year when Old Westbury and Jonesboro started to learn and work together,” Guiliano said, noting that the linked audience was the largest NYIT ever has connected via synchronous video.

NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University gained approval in December 2015 and its inaugural class will begin studies this month. It is Arkansas’ second medical school and NYIT’s first satellite in the United States, though there are other NYIT campuses in China, Canada and the United Arab Emirates.

“A school there . . . really brings medicine to the people instead of asking them to come to the medicine,” Gilliar said.

Arkansas ranks 48th out of the 50 states in the number of active physicians per capita, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The shortage is especially dire in the Mississippi River Delta area, where the Jonesboro campus is located, Gilliar said.

Medical students typically practice where they study, so “creating residency spots” and training “physicians that want to stay there” will hopefully assuage some of the need, Gilliar said.

NYIT is cooperating with 24 Arkansas hospitals to create about 300 residency slots. In the 2015-16 academic year, 100 percent of NYIT medical school graduates matched with residency programs.

Hallie Frederick, 22, of Jonesboro, is excited to be able to bring osteopathic medicine to the town in which she grew up.

“I couldn’t be more excited to begin medical school next week,” she said in an interview via email. “The fact that I get to receive my medical education in my hometown only adds to my excitement.”

On the Old Westbury campus, Nayaab Bakshi, 23, expressed a similar eagerness to serve communities with fewer resources.

“A lot of times those areas don’t get enough attention,” the Great Neck native said. “I think it’s important to get health care to everyone.”

Students at the two locations come from a total of 25 states and foreign countries, including China, Bangladesh and El Salvador, Guiliano said. Together, they have a grade-point average of 3.6 and an average score of 504 on the MCAT, the admissions test for medical school.

Students in the four-year program will work toward a professional doctoral degree in osteopathic medicine, or a D.O.

About 8 percent of licensed physicians have D.O. degrees, according to the Federation of State Medical Boards. Most physicians receive more traditional doctor of medicine, or M.D., degrees, though both afford the same license and medical rights in all 50 states. D.O. physicians, whose training is nearly identical to that of M.D. students, tend to take a more holistic approach to medicine.

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