College of Osteopathic Medicine Students Honored for Research Projects Both Locally and Nationally

Student-led projects have been extremely successful during pandemic
Feb 5, 2021

Student-led research projects from the Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine have enjoyed enormous success on both the state and national level during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Second-year students Jose Parra and Heerod Malekghassemi placed in the top-five nationally for their research project “Should Healthcare Workers Treat COVID-19 Patients Despite Inadequate Personal Protective Equipment?” during this year’s American Medical Association virtual research symposium.

The students finished in the top five out of approximately 1,000 research posters across the country. Together, they worked with Drs. Cheryl Vanier, Joseph Hardy, and Weldon Havins on the project.

“The goal of our work was to initiate conversations in the healthcare community and serve as a call to action for the need of legislature that can better guide healthcare providers in a future pandemic and mandate healthcare administration to provide PPE whenever it is available, regardless of cost,” Parra said.

The duo began their research project in June and surveyed several healthcare providers on two questions; both of which pertained to healthcare providers treating COVID-19 patients despite inadequate PPE.

“While this work was only conducted in Southern Nevada, we are hoping to expand our research across the country to gain a better perspective of the sentiment of all providers in the nation,” Parra said. “As future healthcare providers, we need to advocate for our profession. While we are all in this profession to do the best for our patients, we must also have these conversations because our healthcare providers need to be protected when being faced with these global threats. Although we did not win the research symposium, we were so honored to have made it as far as we did."

During the Clark County Medical Society’s (CCMS) poster competition at the end of January, students Cara Wyant and Taylor Cornwell-Hinrichs took first place for their research project “Investigating the Relationship Between Opioid Prescription Frequency and Deaths.”

Nearly 50 research posters were entered in the competition, the majority from Touro’s students.

“The opioid epidemic in the U.S. has been an ongoing issue that we haven’t quite found a resolution to,” Wyant said. “Taylor and I heard about Nevada’s attempt at curbing it through legislation. We were curious if these laws were actually making a difference, so we decided to look into it.”

The pair also worked with Drs. Vanier, Hardy, and Havins on their research project.

“It is truly a humbling experience to have placed 1st in the research competition,” Wyant said. “There was a lot of wonderful research presented at the conference, most of which belonged to Touro students, and we were happy to be a part of the effort. It is a privilege to be a part of a community with such great support from faculty, staff and the student body.”

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