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Touro student wins fellowship to Ghana

4/10/2014, 10:45 a.m.
Fourth-year Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine student Alia Sommerville

Alia Sommerville, a fourth-year medical student at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM), has been awarded a scholarship from National Medical Fellowships (NMF), a nonprofit organization that advocates for increasing the number of underrepresented minority physicians in the United States. The $5,000 award was made possible by the Lincoln Fund, a long-time supporter of NMF and its mission.

The scholarship is making it possible for Sommerville, who hails from Gaithersburg, Md., to further pursue her passion of practicing medicine in the area of women’s health in underserved communities.

She left for Ghana this week to spend seven weeks working in two OB/GYN clinics, helping to deliver babies and care for patients.

“I am so excited and grateful for the opportunity to go to Ghana. I love to learn about different cultures, and ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to visit Ghana,” Sommerville said on the eve of her departure. “I am not sure exactly what to expect, but I have heard wonderful things. I believe this will be a memorable experience that will prepare me for the management of my future patients locally and abroad.”

Sommerville is a graduate of the University of Delaware, where she earned a B.S. in medical technology. After completing the Masters of Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences at Touro in 2010, she entered TouroCOM, where she has been active in a variety of extracurricular activities and serves in leadership positions to advance community health and minorities in health care.

Currently, she is the minority services coordinator for the American Medical Association and is a TouroCOM regional liaison to the Student National Medical Association, through which she has helped launch a program to retain minorities in medicine. She has mentored Harlem youth interested in pursuing careers in the health sciences and helped start the Black Student Health Alliance at TouroCOM. During the summer of 2010, she traveled to Haiti for 10 days on a medical mission where she helped rebuild clinics, set up a surgical room and inventoried supplies in the aftermath of the earthquake.

TouroCOM advances the osteopathic profession and serves its students and society by providing a firm educational foundation that encourages research and scholarly activity and participation in community service. Osteopathic medicine is a distinct form of medical practice in the U.S. that provides all of the benefits of modern medicine, including prescription drugs, surgery and the use of technology to diagnose disease and evaluate injury. It also offers the added benefit of hands-on diagnosis and treatment through a system of therapy known as osteopathic manipulative medicine.

Since its founding in 2007, TouroCOM has dedicated itself to encouraging minorities to enter medicine and to increasing the number of primary care physicians. The school functions as an integral part of the New York City-Harlem community, working with local schools and other colleges and universities to promote the study of medicine, encourage continuing development, increase educational opportunities and deliver medical services in a variety of community settings. In addition to its focus on primary care, the college emphasizes the promotion of wellness from prenatal through geriatric care. For further information, visit www.touro.edu/med.