NYIT Medical Student wins the McCaughan Heritage Scholarship

A New York Institute of Technology osteopathic medical student has won a national award for her leadership and academic accomplishments.

Kathleen M. Vazzana, a fourth-year student at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine, won the McCaughan Heritage Scholarship Award from the American Osteopathic Foundation.

Vazzana, currently applying for a residency in pediatric medicine, was involved in a record-setting 10 projects in the school’s department of osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), which focuses on the hands-on methods to diagnose and treat patients.

“It’s an exciting time to be doing osteopathic research,” said Vazzana, who is among the participants in the school’s academic medicine scholar program. “There’s a lot to be done and I’ve enjoyed being in the beginning phases of the up and coming generation of the research.

We’re starting to have more and more results that OMM benefits people.”

Vazzana’s most recent study involved a survey of hundreds of first- and second-year osteopathic medical students and their understanding and attitudes toward osteopathic manipulative treatments.

“We wanted to know: is there an advantage to having a clinical exposure to osteopathic manipulative medicine in the first two years of medical school?” said Vazzana. “Does that influence whether students plan to use OMM in their clinical practice?”

The results indicated that study participants who had a clinical exposure to OMM before they entered their own clinical training were more likely to use osteopathic techniques in future practice. Vazzana worked with faculty members Sheldon C. Yao, DO, Michael J. Terzella, DO, and Min-Kying Jung, Ph.D. on the study, which was published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association last summer.

Vazzana began her academic career as an undergraduate theatre major at Drew University. She minored in biochemistry and was involved in neuroscience research.

“I enjoyed the collaborative aspect of theatre and the unpredictability of it- you never know what will happen each day,” she said. “I realized that is also part of medicine.”

As an academic medicine scholar, she also taught in the anatomy, OMM, and clinical diagnosis labs. Vazzana has been involved in numerous volunteer activities at NYITCOM including the pediatrics club, the Student Government Association, and the ambassador’s program. She was among several students who promoted healthy eating and exercise habits on regular visits to a class of Bronx fifth-graders.

As Vazzana completes her rotations and looks forward to matching into a residency program, she recalls that she was inspired by the “big hearts and open minds” of NYITCOM faculty.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunities NYITCOM has presented to me: being able to delve into the profession, put together a research project, come up with new ideas and move them forward,” she said “This part of my journey has been much more than I could have ever imagined when I started.”

See aof.com for the official announcement.

Elaine Iandoli
NYIT Office of Communications