Whole-patient care

Video: Osteopathic medical students give back to communities in need through AOF’s HumanTouch project

The annual project brings osteopathic medical students to underserved areas across the U.S.

The grandmother loved sitting on her deck as her grandchildren played in the yard. But her home in rural Virginia wasn’t wheelchair-accessible, so after she began using a wheelchair, she became homebound. “She’s been in her house for two years, unable to get out and enjoy her own yard,” explains Sterling McClain, a second-year osteopathic medical student at the Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harrogate, Tennessee.

A recently released video (above) follows McClain and 34 other osteopathic medical students as they journeyed to Jonesville, Virginia, last summer, where they spent three days helping disabled members of the community as part of the American Osteopathic Foundation’s HumanTouch Student Leadership Project.

‘I just started crying’

At the grandmother’s home, osteopathic medical students painted the house’s exterior, trimmed trees on the property and built a wheelchair-accessible deck and a ramp to enable the woman to access her driveway. Seeing the completed project was an emotional moment for the homeowner, who told the volunteers through tears that there weren’t words to express how much she appreciated their efforts.

The experience was deeply meaningful for project volunteers as well. “When she first saw the ramp and the deck, I just started crying,” says Victoria Lomas, a second-year osteopathic medical student at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia. “She said she could feel the breeze on her face for the first time in years, and that just got to me. We were so happy we could make a difference for her.”

To donate to the HumanTouch Student Leadership Project, visit the American Osteopathic Foundation website.


  1. This is a great story and video! The lady reminds me of my mom, when she was using a wheelchair and couldn’t visit anyone outside of her home.

    Fortunately. she was a patient of a wonderful DO, Ruth Purdy, in Columbus OH.

    May your hands bless every one you touch..

  2. What a blessing to have a future generation of physicians relate to the elderly in such a personal and caring approach. LMU must be so proud to have med students such as, Sterling McClain and others representing their program at DeBusk! Keep your focus and may God Bless each and every one of you.

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