In this Issue
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The best part of being a doctor can sometimes also be the toughest part.
Challenging cases tend to lead down two difficult paths – one ending in death, the other in recovery through the endurance of great distress.
Such is the life of professionals working in palliative care, the treatment of very serious and sometimes fatal conditions.
No doctor wants to give up on a case, but sometimes the final, sad outcome is inevitable. With other cases, there may be a victory on the other end, but the road ahead difficult, mentally stressing, and exhausting.
With older patients, these difficulties are no less stressing, but there can sometimes be some comfort in knowing these patients at least lived some portion of their lives to whatever full extent possible.
But for physicians like TUCOM Class of 2003 alum Julianne Harrison, working in pediatric palliative care brings an overtone of unfairness that only adds to the challenge.
“When I come across people and I tell them what I do they say that’s so sad,” Dr. Harrison said.
“Yes it is very sad, however I feel my duty is to make a death as beautiful as a birth,” she added. “I know that sounds grim, but honestly if we can ease the suffering and pain of a patient that is dying, I feel that is amazing for the patient and family.”
In hospice care, to contrast, patients are often coasting across the finish line, living out what remaining days they have in as comfortable a manner as possible.
Palliative care differs in the fact that death isn’t a foregone conclusion, but physicians like Dr Harrison know the losses outnumber the wins –or at least they seem to when dealing with children.
Most in Dr. Harrison’s shoes deal with both children and parents, with the physicians finding themselves in a unique position. Depending on their age, most of these doctors have children of their own, as well as still have their parents around. They know perfectly well the pain losing a child might cause, as well as the difficulty in sharing tough news with parents.
“Death is so difficult, especially with children,” Dr. Harriosn said. “However, we should explore the goals of the children and what they dream and want. Many children are resilient and overcome, which helps in our field.”
But being around when a child dies isn’t the sort of thing a person grows numb to, no matter how many times they’ve experienced it.
“It is difficult and there are many times I do have tears,” Dr. Harrison said.
She explained there is a balance physicians have to find between remaining strong for grieving parents, but also showing the parents that their child tough them and that their life mattered in some small way.
“Of course it is ok to cry with the parents – they want to see this empathy,” Dr Harrison said. “I am in a difficult field and we have debriefings and talk among our team. Every month we do a ceremony where we honor the patients that we lost.”
While they respect and honor those they lost, the final outcome isn’t the focus. Making the best of the time left is far more important.
“We have many patients that live long lives,” Dr. Harrison said, noting there are victories along the way. For other patients, the goal is to help them live their best lives –no matter how much time they’re given.
Where there is a crisis, there is often also opportunity.
A veteran teacher with 14 years in the classroom, Sheri Blades knows to take advantage of opportunities when they pop up.
As a teacher at a Title I elementary school, getting her students what they need has always been a challenge due to a general lack of resources.
Then COVID 19 came along and changed everything. While the pandemic became a source of great consternation for most “traditional” educators, Blades – a student in TUC’s Innovative Education program – was able to see nothing but possibilities.
As strange as it may seem, while most people were consumed by the cloud of COVID 19, Blades focused her attention on the silver linings.
“What a great time to be learning about innovation in education,” Blades said. “The pandemic classroom has proven to be the best test laboratory.”
A true optimist, as she describes herself, that optimism has been paying off during the pandemic, especially for her students.
“Pre-pandemic, my school and district struggled to get or provide technology for students. Now, every student has a device and wifi access,” Blades said.
Blades has been able to infuse her own innovative education lessons into her classroom lesson plans, but the increased technology access has also improved her interaction with parents, as well.
Her students are predominantly from households where the parents often speak limited English.
“I can now communicate better with parents due to translation features in the apps and tools we are using,” Blades said.
Video calls are a necessary tool for virtual teaching but the reach isn’t just to the student. These video calls have created opportunities for other family members as well.
“Teaching virtually has allowed some families to become more involved or more aware of what their child is actually learning,” Blades said. “Some parents have mentioned that our virtual classes are improving their English or even helped them know how to better support their child.”
Blades herself is also benefiting from the reliance on technology to become a better teacher.
Where she previously could only connect with other teachers on her campus, she now has access to a great many teachers from various locations to learn best practices from.
“Now, I am connected and working with teachers all over the world through social media groups and curriculum connections,” Blades said. “Instead of having a small pool of collaborators to share ideas with or discuss standards with, I have an open platform that is accessible whenever I have time or need support.”
Also, since her time with students is more limited, she’s had to learn ways to distill lessons down to their most essential components – including infusing those plans with the type of fun, energy and movement it takes to keep a group of remotely-working six-year-olds engaged.
More importantly, particularly in the long-term, Blades has seen how this pandemic has exposed the educational divide and hopes to work toward advocacy as COVID 19 is slowly controlled.
“The pandemic forced technology to be accessible, but it also highlighted how inequitable our system is as a whole,” Blades said. Schools aren’t collections of four-walled classrooms. They serve an important function in neighborhoods beyond the physical setting. Her interest in innovative education has made this point all the more obvious to her.
“Like many others, I am hopeful that we will emerge from this pandemic with reimagined strategies and tools that will strengthen our communities,” she said.
“I am hopeful that we will begin to envision new possibilities for teaching, learning and fostering our communities,” Blades added. “We need to use the lessons learned from this pandemic to better serve our students and better support our schools, which ultimately will improve our communities.”
The Jewish holiday of Chanukah, a Hebrew word meaning “dedication,” dates back to 165 BCE and celebrates the victory of Jewish Maccabees over a Syrian army occupying Jerusalem.
The celebration originally included Jewish children receiving gelt, a Yiddish word for money, for each of the eight nights of the celebration. In more modern times, that tradition has grown to also include the giving of a small gift each night.
Children often spend some of the celebration playing with a small toy called a dreidel, which has four sides. Each side has a character representing the Hebrew letters nun, gimbal, hay and shin. The letters represent the Hebrew phrase, “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham,” or “a great miracle happened there.”
Like most holidays, food plays a big role in Chanukah.
Sacred oil was a key part of the original Chanukah event, so fried foods are a popular way to celebrate the holiday. Two very popular foods that are eaten during Chanukah are potato pancakes called latkes, and sufganiyot, a sweet, jelly-filled doughnut.
The most well-known part of Chanukah is the menorah, a candelabrum with eight candle holders. Modern menorahs come in a variety of sizes and some light up with electric lights.
However, traditional menorahs utilize the light of candles to stay close to the Chanukah tradition.
After ousting the Syrian army, the Maccabees wanted to rededicate their temple but had enough consecrated oil to last one day.
Miraculously, however, this supply of oil lasted for eight days. Today, Jewish families light a candle on the first night of Chanukah, adding a candle for each of the eight nights of the celebration.
Yes, everyone is all abuzz over the latest election results – no, not the one you’re thinking of, the one for Touro University Staff Council.
TUC staff recently elected Nanci De Loza to the staff council, a group that advises the Provost and CAO on issues related to staff concerns.
De Loza, who has been with Touro for two and a half years, was taken aback at first.
“When I was told that I was nominated for the opening I was quite surprised,” De Loza said. “Initially, I wasn’t thinking about running for a seat but after putting some thought to it, I thought it would be a great idea and allow me to contribute to improving our work environment and represent the many voices of our diverse and talented staff.”
De Loza has a background in financial transactions, including reconciliations, reporting, budgeting and analysis, and handles similar duties at Touro.
She’s hopeful to employ that thoughtful, analytic background in her position with the staff council.
“I am hoping that by getting involved and serving on the staff council, I ensure that my voice and that of the rest of my fellow colleagues is heard and maximized in decisions that affect the staff,” De Loza said. “This is a great opportunity where I can contribute to solutions and conversations about the short and long-term goals of the University.”
De Loza is hopeful her service on the council will help the university continue living by its values.
“I really enjoy working at Touro since it truly exemplifies its values with its work in the community,” she said. “I am hoping that by being in the staff council I can bring a finance perspective and be able to gather as many ideas and opinions from my colleagues in all departments on important issues and be able to present to the council.”
Touro University California kicked off Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1, with a “20 for 20” for campaign.
The campaign noted that TUC coordinators could not host normal fundraising events in 2020 due to COVID restrictions, and instead developed an effort to elicit donations from supporters of just $20 for 2020.
The funds raised on Giving Tuesday help support the school’s diversity scholarships, however, the giving doesn’t have to end there. Giving Tuesday focuses on a specific launch day, but the campaigns help kick off an entire year of giving.
There is still plenty of time to help support TUC students achieve their academic and professional dreams by supporting the 20 for 20 campaign.
“This award symbolizes the cultivation of one of my favorite quotes ‘do nothing without intention,’” said 2019 scholarship recipient Yvette Alcalá Hernández “Doing something with intention means giving all of yourself to your efforts, your principles, and your goals.”
Jazmine Mayfield, a fellow recipient in 2019, said, “the Diversity Scholarship symbolizes that Touro University values diversity in healthcare and views me as a leader paving the way for future healthcare providers from diverse backgrounds. I aspire to help others overcome their challenges by serving as a positive role model, providing mentorship, and advocating for health equity.”
Visit tu.edu/givingtuesday to donate today.
The Graduate School of Education hosted a Zoom event, Nov. 18, “Reflection After the Election,” with collaboration from the College of Pharmacy and College of Osteopathic Medicine, which was meant as a way to help discuss ways of moving the country forward.
The event featured seven guest speakers, each focused on a different area of concentration. The speakers had previously participated in GSOE’s “Diversity Now,” series. Organizers said the “Reflection” event was a way to not only hear once again from those speakers, but to also neatly wrap up the Diversity Now series.
Touro University California campus Rabbi Elchonon Tenenbaum started the event discussing the concept of being “a mensch.”
The Yiddish word for human, mensch is more specifically thought of as a decent person.
In referencing Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Rabbi Tenenbaum said, “You can strip away every last shred of human dignity except a person’s ability to choose how they react.”
TUC Learning Specialist Paisley Rosengren followed with an exercise meant to increase people’s capacity for compassion toward others.
“Think of someone different than you,” Rosengren said. “Now picture that person smiling … as you’re picturing that person, send these thoughts to them: may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you be at peace.”
Ashanti Branch, presenter of “The Mask You Wear,” and founder of 100Kmasks.com, talked about how demonstrations in the streets were taking place by groups that weren’t entirely different on a fundamental level.
No matter the topic of protest, nor the political leanings, the groups mainly consisted of people wanting to be heard and acknowledged.
“I’ve been more politically thoughtful in these past four years than I have in my whole life,” Branch said. “Are we really going to change, or are we just going to complain about it?”
Branch said it’s more important now more than ever to find a place of peace and love for one another.
Dr. Shandi Fuller followed with a discussion on the nature of healing.
“Part of healing is telling your story, and telling it without any shame and without any judgment,” Dr. Fuller said.
It’s OK, she said, to face a little resistance when going through the process of healing.
“A little friction creates fire,” Dr. Fuller said. “There’s no change without friction.”
Corwin Harper, who helped found the 54 for Humanity movement, noted that the election wasn’t the conclusion of a journey but was, rather, the beginning of a new process.
“This year should have shown us, when people ask, ‘does my vote count,’ … that question should never have to be asked again,” Harper said.
“What is the issue really bothering people who voted differently than we did?” Harper asked. “Be patient. Be supportive and listen to one another.”
Dr. Cesar Cruz encouraged people to look at themselves as both part of the problem and a potential solution.
“How do we check ourselves?” Dr. Cruz questioned. “How do we address the Donald Trump that lives within?”
Dr. Cruz noted it’s important to stand for what’s right, not only if, but especially when, nobody is watching. “Our words matter,” Dr. Cruz said, adding our deeds also matter.
“We vote every day, everywhere, through our actions,” he said.
Dr. Ijeoma Ononuju, who helped host the event, concluded by thanking the guests speakers and encouraging those in the virtual audience to take their words to heart and find ways each day to put these thoughts into action.
The show must go on.
As COVID-19 has put many “normal” activities on pause in 2020, Touro University California’s biggest fundraiser was under threat of not happening.
Thanks to some hard work in planning, the Lamplighter Gala will be held virtually, December 10 beginning at 5 p.m.
While there is no formal dinner this year, there is still plenty of fun, including raffle prizes and special appearances from Tower of Power’s Lenny Williams, as well as Huey Lewis of Huey Lewis & The News.
In the past, the Lamplighter Gala has helped raise thousands of dollars to support diversity scholarships for students in every TUC college.
With those funds at risk, the University Advancement team rallied to develop a plan to hold the event virtually.
A live virtual event, combined with recorded messages from CEO and Senior Provost Shelley Berkley, Provost and CAO, Dr. Sarah Sweitzer, as well as students and alumni, should help make the 2020 Lamplighter as fun and memorable as in previous years.
“Our team was committed to keeping this tradition going and supporting our students however they could,” said Andrea Garcia, Associate Vice President of Advancement. “The scholarships supported by this event are crucial to student success and our department is fully dedicated to achieving that goal.”
In accordance with Jewish tradition, the Lamplighter Awards recognize individuals and organizations in the community that help serve as a beacon, lighting the path forward for others to follow.
Register for free and join the celebration at http://tu.edu/lamplighter2020/
Touro University California’s Zoom into Wellness series wrapped up a month-long series of sessions focusing on all areas of health, from chronic conditions, mind, body and spirit, stress relief, fitting wellness into busy schedules, healthy eating, mental health and physical fitness.
A special guest – or guests – presented on each topic during live Zoom sessions.
The series proved to be popular during the live events, but those who couldn’t make it the day of each session can still benefit from the information.
Each session was recorded and is now available for viewing online.
To find all of the Zoom into Wellness sessions, visit .
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