WCU College of Osteopathic Medicine selected for STARS program

WCU College of Osteopathic Medicine selected for STARS program

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine has been selected to participate in the “Choosing Wisely STARS 2021” program.

WCUCOM is the first osteopathic medical school in the country to be accepted into STARS – which stands for Students and Trainees Advocating for Resource Stewardship. Other medical schools chosen for STARS 2021 include Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Dean of WCUCOM, Dr. Italo Subbarao, said he was excited about the announcement.

“We are just thrilled to be the first, and only, osteopathic medical school selected for the Choosing Wisely STARS program,” Subbarao said. “It beautifully aligns with the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine’s commitment to graduate leaders who will shape the future of primary care medicine.”

Through a competitive application process, WCUCOM selected two first-year and two second-year medical students to serve as the university’s inaugural Choosing Wisely STARS scholars. They were introduced at a press conference on Dec. 8: Roberto Cordero of Sebastian, Florida; Tayler Thibodeaux of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Thy Cao of Garden Grove, California and Sameerah Shaik of Harriman, New York.

The Choosing Wisely STARS program aims to catalyze grassroots, student-led initiatives in medical education. WCU’s STARS scholars will participate in virtual leadership summits designed to enhance their knowledge and skills in key areas such as value in medicine, health and healthcare equity, leadership and advocacy. They will also network with a large community of care experts as a part of a learning community.

Cordero, who is a second-year medical student interested in psychiatry, neurology and internal medicine, said it’s important to be an advocate for the patient.

“I hope to gain a foundation in evidence-based medicine to lower unnecessary diagnostic testing and avoid over-prescribing pharmaceuticals,” Cordero said. “It boils down to using our medical decision-making skills to advocate for the patient by avoiding unnecessary risks and building that rapport to empathize better with them.”

Thibodeaux is a second-year medical student who plans to practice in the South and advocate for community health education.

“It is a program that is focused on promoting value-based care in medicine and not over-ordering tests or over-prescribing medication, really being smart about our resources and how we use them and also encouraging our patients to open up that line of communication about what we’re doing for them and basically really returning care back to them,” Thibodeaux said.

She went on to say that the recent COVID-19 pandemic underscores the importance of what they are learning.

“I applied for the Choosing Wisely STARS program because as a medical student, I found myself feeling hopeless, almost useless, as I watched health care workers on the front lines tirelessly care for our country during the pandemic,” Thibodeaux said. “I decided that while I cannot currently serve in the medical field, I wanted to make sure that when the time does come, I will have learned as much as possible and provide myself with the knowledge and resources to best care for my future patients.”

Cao is a first-year medical student interested in emergency and family medicine and said that this is an opportunity to learn while helping others.

“I can gain knowledge and strengthen my practical skills from observing and interacting with experienced professionals. I want to use this learning opportunity to share my understanding of my culture with other professionals, so we all can be culturally competent in providing and supporting our patients and their families,” Cao said.

Shaik, a first-year medical student, said she is interested in specializing in oncology and serving as a Doctors Without Borders volunteer.

“With the skills obtained through this training, I hope to work with my peers to improve healthcare processes within Hattiesburg,” Shaik said. “I would like to work with the local hospital and/or local clinics to improve the patient-care experience. This can involve working to improve readmission rates, reducing unnecessary medical imaging procedures, public health education, and mental health advocacy.”

The STARS program is built on Choosing Wisely, launched in 2012 by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation to promote conversations between clinicians and patients to help them choose care that is supported by evidence, not duplicative of other tests or procedures already received, free from harm, and truly necessary. Choosing Wisely STARS is supported by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, Costs of Care, and the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School.

Dr. Melissa Stephens, Associate Dean of Graduate Medical Education and Population Health, directed the WCUCOM announcement of the Choosing Wisely STARS scholars.

“We continually seek unique opportunities like this, to equip our medical students with tools to transform health care systems through novel health management. We are excited to support our STARS scholars as they develop into leaders who will advance health care value and serve as advocates to promote health and healthcare equity,” Stephens said

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