College of Human Medicine student receives Diversity in Medicine Scholarship | MSUToday

College of Human Medicine student Michelle Walls is the first recipient of a Diversity in Medicine Scholarship under a program created by Dr. Mehmet Oz to inspire future doctors in underserved communities.

Walls learned she would receive the scholarship during an appearance on “The Dr. Oz Show,” which aired Nov. 25. Due to COVID-19, the second-year student appeared on the program through a virtual link. She was under the impression she was only a finalist for the scholarship until Oz announced she was the actual recipient.

“I was really caught off guard,” she said. “It was a perfect surprise.”

College of Human Medicine student Michelle Wallw


It was perfect, not only because it recognizes her many volunteer activities and the obstacles she overcame to become a medical student, but also because the $10,000 scholarship goes a long way toward covering her tuition.

The scholarship is part of a broader campaign called More Black Doctors that Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon and Columbia University professor, founded to encourage more African Americans to become physicians, particularly in underserved communities. Applicants must be undergraduates or in medical school and show a commitment to serve their communities and tackle health inequities.

After applying and undergoing a series of interviews, Walls clearly met the program’s criteria.

“I was so inspired by your dedication, yet you never give up,” Oz told Walls. “One of the things that inspired me about you is you’ve already been out there trying to pass it along, trying to change each other and how we practice medicine.”

Asked what advice she would give others considering a career in medicine, Walls said, “I would say to them to not give up, because for me, my journey wasn’t straight. It definitely wasn’t easy. I heard a lot of ‘no’s’. So you’ve got to put those ‘no’s’ behind you and find someone who tells you that you still can.”

When she was 6 years old, her father died. Three years later, she and her three younger siblings were placed in Detroit-area foster homes because their mother was unable to care for them. When she turned 18, Walls aged out of her third foster home and was on her own.

Struggling with obesity, she embarked on a healthy diet and exercise program and shed the extra pounds. She then founded a nonprofit, Lifestyle Fitness Empowerment Inc., to encourage others to achieve better health through proper nutrition and exercise.

“I basically felt better about myself, and I wanted to show other people how they could do it,” she said.

 After graduating from MSU, Walls was accepted in the College of Human Medicine. She volunteers at a Lansing homeless shelter and with the Spartan Street Medicine, a program run by the Colleges of Human Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine to serve homeless people in Ingham County.

“A lot of it is just talking to them and helping them with whatever they’re going through,” Walls said.

Part of her mission is to share her own story, hoping it is an inspiration for others who might think medical

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Faculty voice: What is osteopathic medicine? A D.O. explains | MSUToday

MSU’s Andrea Amalfitano, dean of MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and and Heritage Foundation Endowed Professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, wrote this piece for The Conversation, an independent collaboration between editors and academics that provides informed news analysis and commentary to the general public. See the entire list of articles written by MSU faculty for the conversation.


Andrea Amalfitano is a doctor of osteopathic medicine, or D.O., and dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine. He explains some of the foundations of the profession and its guiding principle: to use holistic approaches to care for and guide patients. And don’t worry, yes, D.O.s are “real doctors” and have full practice rights across the U.S.


When President Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19, many Americans noticed that his physician had the title D.O. stitched onto his white coat. Much confusion ensued about doctors of osteopathic medicine. As of a 2018 census, they made up 9.1% of physicians in the United States. How do they fit into the broader medical field?


How did osteopathic medicine get started?


In the years after the Civil War, without antibiotics and vaccines, many clinicians of the day relied on techniques like arsenic, castor oil, mercury and bloodletting to treat the ill. Unsanitary surgical practices were standard. These “treatments” promised cures but often led to more sickness and pain.


In response to that dreadful state of affairs, a group of American physicians founded the osteopathic medical profession. They asserted that maintaining wellness and preventing disease was paramount. They believed that preserving health was best achieved via a holistic medical understanding of the individual patients, their families and their communities in mind, body and spirit. They rejected reductionist interactions meant to rapidly address only acute symptoms or problems.


They also embraced the concept that the human body has an inherent capacity to heal itself — decades before the immune system’s complexities were understood — and called for this ability to be respected and harnessed.


What do osteopathic doctors do today?


Doctors of osteopathic medicine — D.O.s, for short – can prescribe medication and practice all medical and surgical specialties just as their M.D. counterparts do. Because of the focus on preserving wellness rather than waiting to treat symptoms as they arise, more than half of D.O.s gravitate to primary care, including family practice and pediatrics, particularly in rural and underserved areas.

Andrea Amalfitano

Andrea Amalfitano, dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Osteopathic Heritage Foundation Endowed Professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.


D.O. training embraces the logic that understanding anatomic structures can allow one to better understand how they function. For example, alongside contemporary medical and surgical preventive and treatment knowledge, all osteopathic physicians also learn strategies to treat musculoskeletal pain and disease. These techniques are known as “manual medicine,” or osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). They can provide patients an alternative to medications, including opioids, or invasive surgical interventions.


D.O.s pride themselves on making sure their patients feel they’re treated as a whole person

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