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The aDvOcate:

OBI's Official Newsletter

Volume 9--April 2021
Happy spring!
It is encouraging as we move into 2021 with millions of individuals vaccinated and countless people lining up to receive their initial vaccine. As the political climate shifts with our new White House Administration and people search to find their voices, we implore you all to speak truth and advocate for positive change in our profession and nation. This year, one of our goals is to encourage and equip you with the tools you need to find your voice as an advocate and as a leader. We are thrilled to share with you that we will be collaborating with the Student Osteopathic Medical Association and the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents to foster leadership, awareness of the osteopathic profession, and advocacy as a united team. We are so privileged to have the opportunity to introduce our esteemed colleagues, the leaders of each of these organizations, in the pieces below. We hope that you will find each journey and voice inspiring, encouraging you as you move down your own path of leadership and advocacy as a future osteopathic physician. We cannot thank these leaders enough for all that they do for their organizations and the osteopathic student community. It is a true privilege to call each of them our colleagues. Additionally, we always want to encourage you to share your own stories, which you may do using the link below. In this edition of our newsletter, you will find the stories of the following leaders:
  • Joshua Berko, OMS III - National Director of Omega Beta Iota: National Osteopathic Political Action Honor Society
  • Nicholas Harriel, OMS III - National President of the Student Osteopathic Medical Association
  • Jose Parra, OMS II - National Chair of the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents
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Share Your Advocacy Efforts!

We know that our members are doing great things in their communities advocating for medical students and the medical profession, and we would LOVE to hear about it! Let National OBI know about the work you are doing below. This will automatically submit your name and advocacy projects to be considered for OBI awards that will be presented at our OBI induction ceremonies. It will also give you the opportunity to be featured on OBI social media to highlight all your hard work. We are excited to hear about the advocacy work you all are participating in! 

Submit Your Efforts Here!
National Director of Omega Beta Iota: National Osteopathic Political Action Honor Society
Joshua Berko, OMS III
I chose medicine not only to treat my patients but to be a compassionate advocate for them as well. Since beginning medical school, I quickly learned that advocacy for our patients extends beyond the traditional roles of the clinic. I learned that political advocacy can influence external factors that increase the efficiency of and access to healthcare.
 
As an OMS-I, I was initially turned off when I heard about osteopathic “political organizations”. I never considered myself interested in politics due the traditional dividing nature of the topic and never really associated the term with advocacy. After befriending OMS-II’s who ran our school’s chapter of our state organization, the Florida Osteopathic Medical Society (FOMA), they helped me navigate through my misconceptions. They were quick to mentor and educate me on the alphabet soup of osteopathic organizations including SOMA, the AOA, and OPAC, and how our collective efforts influence policy that help patients get quicker access to medications, lower the cost of healthcare, and protect physician’s practicing rights. After making the connection that patient advocacy extends beyond the clinic – I was hooked. I ran for OMS-I positions in our FOMA and SOMA chapters and was ultimately elected to President of our FOMA chapter and National Liaison Officer (NLO) of our SOMA chapter after hosting a multitude of events like resolution workshops, undergraduate mentoring fairs, and voter registration drives.
As a part of FOMA, I was honored to travel to the state capitol in Tallahassee. In Tallahassee, we spoke to house representatives about upcoming bills and watched quietly in committee sessions as they were voted to pass. We met with Governor Ron DeSantis in person to express our concerns about legislative pieces that negatively impacted the way physicians practiced and the healthcare provided to our patients. As SOMA NLO, I attended several SOMA House of Delegate meetings where we debated about resolutions and defended our own. I attended D.O. Day on the Hill and met one on one with my local legislators to educate them about osteopathic medicine as well as pushed for increasing federal funding for residencies and preserving the direct primary care practice model. At the SOMA House of Delegates at D.O. Day on the Hill 2019, we had the honor of learning from and speaking with former Surgeon General Jerome Adams who spoke about the opioid epidemic and the climate of public health.
In the reception hall later that evening is when I first learned about Omega Beta Iota (OBI). I learned that OBI is a group of individuals who pride themselves on being advocates who go above and beyond for their patients and colleagues through many of the activities mentioned above. This group facilitates advocacy opportunities amongst their peers and pioneers opportunities where none exist. I joined and was elected Membership Chair and ultimately National Director to uphold these values and traditions and inspire the next generation of student physician advocates.  Moving forward, I hope to continue my work with the FOMA on committees and hopefully become a future Florida delegate to the AOA. I also hope to serve OBI beyond graduation by mentoring potential new members. My advice to current and future members is to find something you’re passionate about and learn as much as you can so you can pass your knowledge down and give the next generation that much more of an edge in making progress.
National President of the Student Osteopathic Medical Association
Nicholas Harriel, OMS III
At the young age of 50 years old, SOMA is the nation's oldest osteopathic medical student organization. Our legacy is one that is rich in service, student advocacy, and commitment to the osteopathic profession. Over the next year, our team will continue the work of our predecessors by enriching partnerships, trailblazing avenues for the voice of osteopathic medical students, and finding innovative ways to positively impact our members and communities. Specifically for my position, over this next year I hope to help create an even stronger and more malleable SOMA that is refined in our processes and (when the time comes) is ready to return to an in-person world. I also hope to help further relationships with great affiliates--such as our already amazing relationship with OBI!
 
My involvement with SOMA began while at the chapter level during my first year at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University. I was inspired by my chapter’s short but rich legacy of movers and shakers who were just as dedicated to their studies as they were to our school, peers, and community. Student leaders who established an elementary-partnered afterschool program, volunteered countless hours alongside community partners, and worked with institutions to educate hundreds of Delta’s citizens and future D.O. Candidates on principles of Osteopathic medicine. I wanted to give back and engage the community the way they did. So, I got involved. A couple of years passed, and no one told me to leave. I figured I'd stick around as long as I was useful.
I was raised in southern Louisiana where I completed an LPN licensure course before joining the Army as a medic. While serving on Active Duty, I deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, married my wonderful husband Cristian, and began pre-medical courses. Upon discharge to the Army Reserve, I completed my undergrad and was accepted to NYIT shortly after (where I serve as a Congressional Fellow in addition to serving SOMA as National President). Currently I’m in Shreveport, Louisiana for clerkship and hope to one day become an Internal Medicine hospitalist. My free time is dedicated to my husband, our three fur-babies (Waylon, Anna, & Ruppert), graphic design, and (occasionally) sleep.
I look forward to all we will accomplish together.
National Chair of the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents
Jose Parra, OMS II
Hello, my name is Jose Parra (He/Him), and I am the National Chair for the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents (COSGP) and rising OMS-III at Touro University Nevada (TUN) in Henderson, NV.
 
I was born and raised in Flagstaff, AZ and am the first in my family to pursue a career as a physician. I am a proud first-generation Latino and bisexual man in medicine. My journey into medicine began in my high school anatomy & physiology class. I remember loving the sciences and wanting to pursue the field even more because it meant I could use that knowledge and make a positive difference in patient lives. At the time, I was dual enrolled at a local community college and was taking prelaw courses because I was certain that I was going to be an attorney. While I ultimately decided on a career in medicine, my passion for advocacy and enacting tangible change continues to translate into my everyday life and is my driving philosophy in leading this great organization.
As National Chair, I have the privilege of working alongside my incredible executive board and advocating on behalf of the 31,000+ osteopathic medical students in the country. We, the students, are the future of osteopathic medicine and I firmly believe that as such, we have every right to have a say in shaping the future of our profession. I first got involved in advocacy work when I was in high school. I became involved in the court systems for a juvenile diversion program known as Teen Court, where I served as a juror and attorney. We had guidance from defense attorneys and held court hearings ruled by a state judge. I remember the feeling of being able to advocate on behalf of my clients and truly exercising our constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial. These experiences drove me to continue pursuing leadership opportunities in college through my fraternity and well into medical school, where I served as the President of the Student Government Association at TUN. I wanted to be the representative voice for my colleagues, a voice they could trust to relay bipartisan sentiment.
 
As I am transitioning into this role, it is my plan to be able to work alongside other national student organizations and administrative leadership in hopes of collaborating together and paving the way for a future in osteopathic medicine where we are not judged by our credentials, but rather for our commitment to serving humanity. I look forward to getting to meet many of you throughout this journey and working together to serve our profession
Register to vote at: https://vote.gov/

Don't hesitate to reach out to OBI with any specific questions, and please continue to follow CDC recommendations to help save lives. It will take all of us working together to get through this pandemic.
 
 
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Copyright © 2021 Omega Beta Iota National Osteopathic Political Honor Society, All rights reserved.

Questions or Comments? Reach out to us!
Jenna Seeley: obinationalrecruitmentchair@gmail.com
Amanah Fatima: obiadvocacyliaison@gmail.com

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