COM and MSBS Students Unite Over Their Passion for OMT

Written by Courtney Campbell, Coordinator for the MSBS Program

Joel Roberts, MD, Assistant Director of the Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences (MSBS) Program for Colorado and Assistant Professor of Physiology, realized there was no formal discussion or demonstration around osteopathic principles and practice (OPP) for MSBS students. This was exacerbated last year when MSBS students—who were entirely online due to the pandemic—were unable to access their primary informal exposure to osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT): students in the College of Osteopathic Medicine practicing OMT in the halls before labs. With this identified problem, Dr. Roberts collaborated with OPP faculty and Fellows to create a lecture series for MSBS students.

The OPP Lecture Series is a three-part series that was developed and led by the OPP Fellows (and supervised by the OPP and MSBS Departments). The Fellows created the series to introduce the background and history of the osteopathic field, discuss somatic dysfunction, and host a live demonstration. Last year was a remarkable success and this year’s series is currently underway.

Jessica Harper, OMS III, and Nicole Wong, OMS III, the OPP Fellows in this year’s lecture series, shared the preliminary data from the 2020-2021 OPP Lecture Series (which took place over three Zoom sessions) and found that there was an overall improvement in the understanding and approval of osteopathic medicine with last year’s class. “[Osteopathic medicine] offers a philosophy and training in how to utilize the unique tool of one’s own hands, that I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn,” said SD Harper. “It is meaningful to share the prospect of this with others.”

Not only were the OPP Fellows able to use this experience to enhance their research, but they also took the time to really dig into the theory and history of their profession—all while sharing their passion with eager and engaged MSBS students (as well as possible future OPP Fellows)! SD Wong felt that she has continually benefitted from these lectures by breaking everything down to the basics. She reflected on how she was able to see the practice in teaching the basics of OPP in her clinical rotations, “It is helpful…as I am better prepared to educate the preceptors and patients that I encounter on a day-to-day basis.”

So, what have we observed? After attending this series, MSBS students have increased their awareness and knowledge of the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree, especially those who struggled to understand the difference between osteopathic and allopathic medical degrees. SD Wong hopes that by participating, “it is giving [the MSBS students] a better understanding of what OPP is and how it is utilized in a clinical setting. If anything, it is exposing them to the history, principles, and tenets so that they can be stewards of OPP or [it will] guide them into the [medical] field that they choose to move forward into.” As for the data, there is only one year’s worth compiled, so the program looks forward to further developing this series, as well as their research on it. The research benefits of this event are not just for the students, however: the faculty involved are able to use this to develop their own research experience.

Lecture series like these have been able to open doors for collaboration, not only across both the Utah and Colorado campus, but doors between programs and departments on the same campus. As we are slowly moving back to in-person, breaking down silos between the campuses and the different programs is a wonderful way to demonstrate the RVU core values. We are so thankful to everyone involved with the creation of this series!

This article was originally featured in RVU’s Vista View Newsletter. To view the full issue, visit

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