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Coby Cates standing in front of Valley Library

Pre-osteopathic student club earns national honors in its first year

Coby Cates, OSU Pre-SOMA club founder

Source: Western University of Health Sciences

Oregon State’s new pre-osteopathic student club earned national recognition as Chapter of the Year recently from their parent organization, Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA). The OSU Pre-SOMA Club was founded by BioHealth Sciences major Coby Cates just last year with the guidance of medical students from Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest (WesternU COMP).

SOMA is a national, not-for-profit osteopathic medical organization dedicated to ensuring a high quality of education for osteopathic medical students, to promote unity within the osteopathic medical profession—which focuses on the body's innate ability to heal itself—and to improve the delivery of healthcare.

The Pre-SOMA Club at University of Oregon was also recognized with this honor. Cates and Lisa Huynh, president of the UO Pre-SOMA Club, travelled to Washington, D.C. to accept the awards at SOMA’s annual spring convention held March 5–6, 2018.

“The Pre-SOMA clubs at Oregon State University and the University of Oregon are an ideal partnership for COMP-Northwest’s SOMA club,” “said John T. Pham, DO, Vice Dean of Western University COMP-Northwest.

“These Pre-SOMA clubs allow for more exposure to the osteopathic profession on college campuses. As the only osteopathic medical school in Oregon, we are proud to celebrate their success.”

WesternU COMP-Northwest students from its SOMA Club reached out to Oregon State University’s pre-med advisor to gauge interest, and then made contact with Cates in OSU’s College of Science. Cates, Pham, and second-year medical student Kyle Bertram at WesternU COMP-Northwest met last summer to discuss formation of the club.

“That was really the beginning of something special, and it has helped students both at OSU and UO,” Cates said, who founded and subsequently became president of the Pre-SOMA club at OSU.

Bertram serves as student advocacy officer for the Pre-SOMA club at WesternU COMP-Northwest. Together with second-year medical student Beth Kobza, the students worked closely with OSU’s newly formed Pre-SOMA Club to help guide them through their first year.

Students from WesternU COMP-Northwest hosted OSU students at a casting workshop last year, with plans to host more workshops in the future. The school’s SOMA Club hopes to tap into pre-medical events hosted by Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons of Oregon to increase workshops for its members.

“Roughly 12 to 15 students went to Corvallis to meet with about 20 OSU students. We had several undergraduate students tell us they never even considered or were aware of osteopathic medicine, but now because of Pre-SOMA they plan on applying to WesternU, and are excited for the possibility of becoming osteopathic physicians.”

OSU Pre-SOMA Club served as the impetus for the UO club. The president of UO’s Pre-SOMA club, Lisa Huynh, was awarded Officer of the Year honors by SOMA. She has been accepted into the WesternU COMP-Northwest Class of 2022.

“Pre-SOMA clubs help promote the profession because students that interact with the clubs will understand osteopathic principles and practices and can use that knowledge when applying to DO schools,” Pham explained.