Local 2 Medical School Graduates in 8th Class of Osteopaths | Education
It took just 25 minutes for Lebanon’s medical school to strike 104 doctors on Friday, May 27.
Students lined up in front of a stage under a huge white tent on May 27 near the Pacific College of Osteopathic Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences in the northwest. By the time they crossed, university president Robin Farias-Eisner had conferred on them a doctorate in osteopathic medicine, and they were professionals.
COMP Northwest returned to in-person graduation ceremonies after two years of distancing related to the coronavirus pandemic, graduating from its eighth class of osteopaths since the school opened in 2011 as a satellite campus of the Western University of Health Sciences, based in Pomona, California.
University board chairwoman Elizabeth Zamora described an increasingly diverse medical field and a well-balanced class: doctors aged 26 to 50 from across the United States, more than half of women.
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“Graduation is the end of your education,” she told the outgoing COMP Northwest class. “The beginning is the beginning of something new.”
Unlike most of her peers, Whitley Nelson was born just across the street at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital.
The lifelong Lebanese is just one of two from the class of 2022 who will study and practice general surgery. She now lives in Albany, where her husband Jerred Nelson is an Oregon State Trooper, and is set to begin a five-year surgical residency at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis.
She graduated from East Linn Christian Academy. She began studying nursing at Linn-Benton Community College before completing her undergraduate studies at Oregon State University.
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At a pivotal time in her life, a biology instructor, Steve Skarda, was the first to ask her why not medical school, Whitley Nelson said.
“It was a big lightbulb moment,” she said.
Whitley Nelson has applied to osteopathic medicine programs all over the country – far from the middle of the Willamette Valley.
“I thought I didn’t just want to choose Lebanon because it was my home,” she said. “But it was the best solution.”
Like Nelson, fellow graduate Austin Kleint lived his entire teenage life in the town of 17,000. He too is a graduate of East Linn Christian.
He was deeply involved in high school wrestling in Lebanon, first as an athlete and then a volunteer coach, and he lives in the “same house my grandfather built”, he said.
Kleint saw the fields on the north side of Lebanon fill with clinics, a hotel and one of Oregon’s two medical schools.
“It was around the same time that I found out I wanted to be a doctor,” Kleint said.
But unlike Nelson, Kleint said he leaves more to action and chance than meticulous lists. He applied to only one school, COMP Northwest.
“Everything is going according to plan, but I never planned anything,” Kleint said. “I just did. God blessed me immensely.
Kleint said he will practice pediatric medicine in a residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He credits his interest in pediatric practice to his childhood physician and mentor from medical school, Lebanese physician Dana Kosmala.
Acting University Vice President, Oregon Campus Vice President and Dean of COMP Northwest Paula Crone reminded students that they had had four difficult years since the class put on their white coats. in 2018.
She encouraged students to seek wellness in their practice and to use their heads and hearts as well as their hands, to remember compassion despite a few years of medical school that included record-breaking wildfires and the one of the deadliest pandemics of all time.
“At the end of every thought, every action, every decision, there is your patient,” Crone said.
Alex Powers (he/him) covers business, environment and health for Mid-Valley Media. Call 541-812-6116 or email [email protected]
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