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Get to “Gnome” Me: Elle G.

By Culture + Community

Noorda-COM faculty, students, and staff are more than their job title or student status. They’re also parents, novelists; professional athletes–and the list goes on! That’s why we created “Get to Gnome Me”: to spotlight our campus members’ personalities, achievements, and lives beyond Noorda-COM. Kicking off our first feature is Elle G., a first-year interested in PM&R and sports medicine.

A core memory of mine is… earning a place on the U.S. Aerial Ski Team* (based in Park City, Utah) and competing on the full World Cup Circuit and World Championships Teams in 2015.

My favorite aspect of Grand Opening was… showing attendees of our gala how awesome our school is and being able to connect to people behind the scenes of Noorda-COM who make it possible for us to be here! Being a first-year, I saw a lot of things I haven’t been introduced to yet (like the simulation center), so it makes me excited for the future! But overall, it was so cool to see everyone come together and celebrate all the hard work that was put into our much needed school! 

My favorite place on campus is… pod 4026 with fellow students, specifically at night with a fake fireplace playing on the TV.

My first (memorable) experience with medicine was… my first day as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), I walked into a patient’s room so shy and nervous that I could barely get words out of my mouth. I very quickly realized that medicine is all about communication and patient connection.

If I haven’t texted you back in a while, I’m probably… out of service or taking a nice long nap.

If you scroll through my camera roll, you’ll find… a bunch of pictures of Ram’s** cat, Ham, and hundreds of screenshots of schoolwork so I can study on the go.

I’m most passionate about research surrounding… traumatic brain injury and concussion! I personally suffered for many years from countless brain injuries acquired from my sport and understand the effects it has on your quality of life! Healthy brain: happy life.

One thing I wish people knew about osteopathic medicine is… how beneficial OMM can be for some patients!

My motto for life is… “NEXT”. It started as an inside joke with my mom and I and now I say it to all situations in life.

My pod mates… keep med school fun. They make me laugh every single day while keeping me in line with studies by constantly quizzing me.

My go-to wellness activity is… getting outside! Whether it be skiing, camping, climbing, biking, I always feel better when outdoors.

*For those unfamiliar with aerial skiing, Elle provided the following explanation of her sport and background:

“Aerial skiing consists of skiing 35+ miles per hour straight off a 15-20 foot jump, propelling yourself 30-40 feet in the air while doing flips and twists of varying difficulty and hopefully landing on your feet on an inclined landing hill. In 2013, when I was 15, I was recruited to join the U.S. Elite Aerial Development Program where I lived, trained, and did online school full-time at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York with my coaches and 11 teammates. In the summer, we trained twice a day (not including 2 strength training and trampoline sessions) on water ramps, where we skied off of jumps made of plastic and landed into a pool of water instead of snow, giving us a safe place to progress our tricks for the winter.

During competition season, we traveled around the United States, Canada, and Europe competing in North American and European cups, which are a stepping stone into the official World Cup Circuit. Starting in 2015, at 17 years old, I competed on the full World Cup Circuit and World Championships Teams, traveling and flipping worldwide.

Through my years of aerial skiing, I was fortunate to have minimal injuries, however, my brain did not have the same durability as my body. After multiple traumatic brain injuries and concussions, I made the decision to step away from the sport to rebuild my cognitive and mental health. Without my career as an aerial skier, I would have never found my way to medicine.”

**Ram is a friend from Elle’s cohort and president of COM 2027.

Grand Opening Week’s Events

By Campus News, Events

While Saturday, March 9th was our largest event for the public, there were also internal celebrations leading up to the grand opening of our new academic building. With the assistance of nearly 200 faculty, student, and staff volunteers, our campus hosted several events before the open house, including:

  • A “Community Partners Party”, for all the preceptors, business owners, city and county officials, chamber members, and other partners of Noorda-COM
  • An unveiling of the Noorda family wall—to honor the primary benefactors and stalwart supporters of our college
  • A gala for our founders, board members, donors, opinion leaders, and distinguished guests, featuring guided tours, dinner and remarks, a simulated car crash, and a drone show
  • A dedication ceremony for the Michael D. Elton Library and to recognize the generosity of Jo Searles and the Elton Family Foundation

Here’s a few photos from each event:

Recapping our Grand Opening

By Campus News

Saturday, March 9th will be remembered as the day Noorda-COM celebrated the opening of its new academic building with 1,500 family members, friends, volunteers, community members, government officials, founders, physicians, and other visitors!

This historic event included a ribbon-cutting ceremony and remarks by founders. Then, our doors opened for visitors to enjoy activities in practically every nook, cranny, and classroom.

In addition to offering a “mini med school” for children on the first floor, we repurposed 13 of our OSCE (objective structured clinical examination) rooms into escape rooms. Each room featured décor, clues, and a patient actor to interact with.

Participants solving a final clue in an OSCE escape room.

“Adults, kids, and everyone in between were so excited to ‘solve the mystery’ of the ‘ill’ patient,” explained Diane Gabriel, first-year student and escape room volunteer. “What many don’t realize is that student doctors get to practice solving a multitude of ‘mysteries’ during our education and practice communication, diagnosing, and treatment skills. While the escape rooms were indeed just for fun, they also sparked conversation regarding the importance of practicing clinical skills in a simulated environment and illustrated the unique educational opportunities Noorda-COM has to offer.” 

OSCEs look identical to an urgent care (or primary care physician’s) examination room and begin near the end of a Noorda-COM student’s first year. Rubric (communication skills, diagnosis aptitude, and treatment plan formulation) expectations increase with each semester.

Visitors also experienced portions of a Noorda-COM education through patient simulators (life-sized robots) and other task trainer demonstrations, including a live (robotic) birth, a heart attack, and ultrasound-capable trainers.

A young visitor tests out an ultrasound-capable task trainer.

“The task trainer demos during the open house were so fascinating,” explained visitor Jessica Blaine. “I also really liked the Holodeck screen demonstrating how ultrasounds work. Seeing the 3D render of how a baby is nestled inside of the womb was honestly captivating. As someone from a tech background focused on creating VR/AR games, I was surprised at how interesting and engaging medical technology can be to interact with!”

Saturday’s events also featured an augmented reality tour, live demonstrations of OMM techniques, a service project, and a wellness activity. This wellness activity included take-home affirmations for participants to reflect on their strengths, consider their weaknesses, and apply the eight dimensions of Noorda-COM wellness.  

Visitors watching an osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) demonstration.

Breanna Palmer, Administrative Assistant in Clinical Affairs, recounted a moment she shared with a physician at the wellness activity:

“A visitor expressed how impressed they were with the focus on student wellness at Noorda-COM,” she explained. “He mentioned that the medical school he attended had nothing like this program, and he hoped that other schools could learn from our example.”

Wellness at Noorda-COM includes monthly activities (sound baths, trail mix “make n take” bars, etc.) and a curriculum that requires all students to complete at least one hour of wellness per week. Wellness is also supplemented by psychological resources from Student Affairs. This commitment to self-care originates from the osteopathic philosophy.

It was amazing to see the community and our volunteers rally around us. This grand opening was one for the history books!

Harnessing the Power of AR

By Technology

It’s been an exciting time for our campus! We moved into our brand-new, state-of-the-art academic building and tested out new technology, learning spaces, and (anatomy, OSCE, and osteopathic manipulative medicine) labs.

This campus was designed with a commitment to remaining at the forefront of technology. Through advanced patient-care simulators, early engagement in research opportunities, and our flexible curricular model, students can learn essential skills from the newest resources possible.

We wanted this commitment to innovation and non-traditionalism to be reflected in our grand opening. That’s why we partnered with Continuum: to create six unforgettable touring experiences. Dispersed throughout the building, these augmented reality experiences help explain our medical school through videos, animation, “holographic” designs, and more.

The beginning of our AR tour.

“In pursuit of a distinctive touring experience, we harnessed Continuum’s cutting-edge expertise in the world of AR,” explains Ally Pack, marketing manager. “Every individual has different interests when touring our building and we wanted the experience to be a technological marvel for all visitors. Smartphones act as a gateway at our fingertips, facilitating exploration not only of our physical building but also of our purpose and vision.”

Nick Curtis, a first-year medical student from Utah, was asked to participate in the tour’s first stop. Using video editing and Continuum technology, we turned him into a holographic welcome.

Filming for Nick’s holographic segment.

“It was really cool to be part of something that will stand out for ages,” he explained. “I’m super excited for prospective students and visitors to experience this AR tour and learn more about what Noorda-COM has to offer them.”

Our campus welcomed nearly 1,500 visitors on Saturday, March 9th. Didn’t make it to campus last weekend? Fill out this form and we’ll mail you an AR tour card to enjoy from the comfort of your home!

Preceptor “Do’s and Donuts” Event

By Events

Visit Noorda-COM on Friday, June 2nd, and share your clinical advice with student doctors via in-person conversations or (pre-recorded) video.

Your experience is incredibly valuable! Come to Building 1 on Friday, June 2nd, to share your do’s and do “nuts” with students. Lunch and donuts will be provided. If you can’t attend in person, make a quick, informal video and upload it here.

Save-the-Date Info:

Friday, June 2 | 12-2 pm

Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine, Building 1

Share your advice in person or record a video for students to watch.

White Coat Ceremony 2023

By EventsNo Comments

The White Coat Ceremony marks the beginning of your journey as a physician. It is a day to celebrate with your family and friends and your Noorda-COM faculty and staff. This event embodies the osteopathic traditions that will allow you to become the competent, confident, and compassionate physician to which you aspire to be. Using the attached links you will find important information about the White Coat Ceremony for you as a student and for your guests.

Watch the Recap Here

Overcoming the Dangerous Intersection of Opioids, Chronic Pain, and Misuse

By Events

Join us on April 26, 2023 8:00 am MST

This controlled substance prescribers course meets the Department of Occupational and Professional Licensing requirements for physician license renewal in Utah and includes a summary of the November 2022 CDC Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain.

The following topics will be addressed throughout the course:

  • Understanding the medicine to decrease opioid prescribing, opioid-related overdoses, and death
  • Identifying methods for appropriate alternatives to opioids based on patient health situations
  • Minimizing the potential for patients with history of substance abuse to misuse opioids
  • Counseling patients and caregivers about safely using ER/LA opioid analgesics.


  • Speakers will be Dr. Jon Benfield, Dr. Snigdha Ancha, and Dr. John Kriak

Noorda-COM has successful inaugural year and welcomes second class of medical students

By Campus NewsNo Comments

100 percent of first class of 90 students move to second year status

As the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine (Noorda-COM) welcomes new and returning students to campus this week with its 2022 White Coat Ceremony the institution also looks back on an inaugural year filled with many milestones.

“The inaugural year of Noorda-COM has been a great success,” said Norman Wright, Ph.D., president and CEO of Noorda-COM. “Not only has our first class of medical students excelled but we are welcoming an incredibly diverse group of new medical students this year – all of whom will go on to help address Utah’s growing need for medical providers.” 


  • All 90 members of the class (100%) completed their first year and will move on to their next year of didactic instruction.
  • For the 2021/2022 academic year, 23 students each semester made the Dean’s List (top 25% of the class in GPA). 18 students made the Dean’s list both semesters.   
  • Additionally, at the end of their first year of instruction, Noorda-COM students took the COMAT Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Achievement Test, a standardized assessment of core osteopathic and biomedical sciences knowledge typically taken at the end of second year. 
    • Noorda-COM first-year students obtained a mean standard score of 188.8 compared to the national mean score of 197.4.  
    • This demonstrates that one-half of Noorda-COM’s medical students could pass their national Board exams (taken at the end of second year) after their first year.
  • Noorda-COM also rolled out its research track. The purpose of the research track is three-fold. First, it enhances the student doctor’s ability to think critically and reason scientifically. Second, the research track provides scientific skills to enhance the students’ ability to advance medical knowledge and improve treatment throughout their careers. Third, it provides targeted research experiences within the field of specialty in which the students desire to match as residents.
    • 22 students were mentored by 10 Biomedical and Clinical Faculty in 20 research projects. 
    • 7 Narrative Literature Reviews were prepared for publication with all first year students as authors on two papers.  
    • 20 active research projects were started with five different external grants funding the work and another 13 projects were started on a variety of health topics.
    • 22 students were selected to participate in the research track and all will participate in peer reviewed publications and research presentations at conferences from their work.
  • Noorda-COM students made a significant community impact by:
    • Mentoring at Amelia Earhart Elementary School.
    • Volunteering at South Franklin Community Center.
    • Providing a Noorda-COM Day of Service in partnership with the United Way of Utah County.
    • Participating in the Mass Casualty Incident training at the new Provo Airport before it opened.

“100 percent of our students passed their first year, which is a remarkable accomplishment,” said John J. Dougherty, DO, FACOFP, FAOASM, FAODME, founding dean and chief academic officer. “They worked hard and embraced Noorda-COM’s transformative and innovative teaching model.  I have great confidence they will continue to excel in their studies and go on to provide medical health services to people from all walks of life.”


  • The appointment of Dr. Norman Wright as president and CEO of the institution. Search committee representatives included former Governor Gary Herbert and Noorda-COM Board members Francis Gibson, Jonora Searles, and Heather Kahlert.  Noorda-COM Student Government Association (SGA) President Brittney Harrell and Vice President Cassandra Bovee also served on the presidential search committee.
  • The building Topping-off Ceremony of the new four-story, 140,000 square foot academic building. Construction continues and is scheduled to be completed in 2023.
  • Noorda-COM actively engaged in Utah Legislative Advocacy providing leadership in supporting the passage of HB295 during the 2022 Utah Legislative Session. The new state law secures funding to increase residency programs in Utah. The advocacy gained national attention from the American Osteopathic Association seeking guidance for other states.
  • Dr. John Dougherty, DO, FACOFP, FAOASM, FAODME, founding dean and chief academic officer, was appointed by Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox to the Utah Medical Education Council.
  • Noorda-COM has established affiliation partners with 16 Utah hospitals to provide clerkships for approximately 1,000 medical students.
  • Noorda-COM entered into a partnership with Utah Valley University (UVU) Woodbury School of Business to offer qualifying Noorda-COM students a combined degree of Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and Master of Business Administration degree. Four students and one faculty member are currently enrolled in the program.
  • Noorda-COM completed its first year utilizing an innovative and unique curricular model developed by faculty and staff. It pioneers medical education for 21st century medical students. The curriculum utilizes short, pre-recorded video segments covering defined learning objectives. Students work collaboratively in small groups of 4-12 people in on-campus learning ‘pods.’ The curricular model is blended with high tech laboratory and simulation experiences.
    • More than 7000 hours of faculty time was utilized to develop pod content.
    • 2,400 videos were created.
    • 350 hours of instruction.
    • 545 total teaching hours spent on simulation and OSCE.
    • 162 hours of ultrasound and augmented reality
    • 54 hours with the Apollo simulator manikin.

“The Noorda-COM inaugural year has been an exciting one full of many milestones as we established our institution for the benefit of a talented and diverse group of medical students,” said Wright. “The greatest milestone being the success of our first class of medical students.  We are excited to welcome our new class and I firmly believe Noorda-COM is well on its way to becoming an esteemed medical education institution in Utah and the Intermountain West.”

About Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine

Located in Provo, Utah, Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine (Noorda-COM) offers an innovative and unique approach to medical education. Noorda-COM provides 21st-century medical students a curricular model blending active, small group learning with advanced laboratory experiences and research opportunities while also emphasizing school and life balance with a commitment to health and wellness. Noorda-COM focuses on preparing future residency-ready physicians committed to providing patient-centered healthcare. Noorda-COM is a private, proprietary institution. An independent governing Board of Trustees oversees Noorda-COM. The Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation granted Noorda-COM Pre-Accreditation status in December 2020. For more information, visit


Norman S. Wright Named President and CEO of Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine

By Campus NewsNo Comments

PROVO, Utah, January 14, 2022 — The Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine (Noorda-COM) Board of Trustees has selected Norman S. Wright, Ph.D., to serve as president and chief executive officer of the college following a national search. Wright has been serving as the institution’s interim president since July 2021 and will assume full-time responsibilities in February.

“The Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine is fortunate to have someone with Dr. Wright’s unique set of skills and experience as its next president,” said Francis Gibson, chair of the board of trustees of the college. “Dr. Wright’s strong business acumen together with his experience within the local community and in higher education will be incredibly valuable as the college continues its path to becoming a leader in medical education in Utah.” 

The president is a crucial appointment in the senior executive administration that will lead the college forward in engaging local, regional and national communities in building awareness and support for the osteopathic profession, the school and its medical students as they pursue residency placements.

“I am deeply honored to have been chosen to lead the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine at such a critical time in higher education,” said Wright. “We are at a crossroads where old models no longer meet the needs of today’s digitally savvy students who are curious, capable, and committed to harnessing knowledge for the betterment of their communities. I am excited to work together with the Board, students, faculty, staff, and our community as we transform medical education in the service of our community.”

The board-appointed Presidential Search Committee began the search process in September. The 14-member committee—with representation from faculty, professional staff, administrative support staff, students, the Board of Trustees and the community—recommended two finalists to the Board whose final decision was then ratified by the Noorda Medical School Board.

Wright is the current dean of the Woodbury School of Business at Utah Valley University, a position he has held since 2010. During his time as dean, the business school has added graduate degree programs, raised $75 million in funding for a new facility, added support for women and Latinx students, extended ties with the Utah business community, and systematically helped students put theory into practice through industry consulting projects. Prior to his appointment as dean, Wright held various leadership roles with start-up and young business schools in the Middle East and Africa as well as numerous consultancy projects around the globe.

Wright graduated with honors from Brigham Young University with a degree in economics and a Master of Public Administration degree. He went on to earn Master of Arts and Ph.D. degrees from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

About Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine

Located in Provo, Utah, Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine (Noorda-COM) offers an innovative and unique approach to medical education. Noorda-COM provides 21st-century medical students a curricular model blending active, small group learning with advanced laboratory experiences and research opportunities while also emphasizing school and life balance with a commitment to health and wellness. Noorda-COM focuses on preparing future residency-ready physicians committed to providing patient-centered healthcare. Noorda-COM is a private, proprietary institution. An independent governing Board of Trustees oversees Noorda-COM. The Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation granted Noorda-COM Pre-Accreditation status in December 2020. For more information, visit

Final Steel Beam Placed on Academic Building

By Campus NewsNo Comments

Final Steel Beam Placed on the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine Academic Building
Utah’s newest medical school celebrates construction milestone

PROVO, Utah, December 15, 2021 — The Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine (Noorda-COM) today marked a milestone in the construction of its new academic building in Provo with a traditional “topping off” ceremony celebrating the placement of the final steel beam on the structure.

A gathering of Noorda-COM founders, board members, leadership, students, and benefactors, along with community leaders, medical partners, construction and architect teams, participated in a brief program that culminated with a crane lifting the final steel beam into place. In the days leading up to the event, the beam was signed by hundreds of people with interest in the project, including members of the inaugural class of 90 medical students.

“This is a celebration for us all and would not be possible if it were not for the incredible support and vision of our founders, benefactors, community partners, and dedicated campus leadership,” said Norm Wright, interim president of Noorda-COM. “As I look at the steel frame of this building, it is symbolic of the strength and determination of so many who believe passionately in the impact the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine will have – not only for the medical school and our students, but for this community and state.”

The topping off ceremony is a time-honored tradition in construction projects. It is not only adorned with signatures, but with an evergreen tree and American flag. The symbolism of the evergreen goes back many centuries and is said to represent a safe job well done with no fatalities, good fortune throughout the life of the building, and blessings for the building to stand forever.

Having spent the last 26 years in medical education, Dr. John Dougherty, founding dean and chief academic officer, has envisioned this building and what it will mean for medical education in the future.

“This new building has been designed to be a home for generations of medical students to come who will go on to meet the ever-changing needs of the patients they will serve,” Dougherty said. “In this building, we will transform medical education and provide our student doctors with the tools and resources needed for them to become empathetic and compassionate physicians.”

Estimated at $57 million, the four-story, 140,000-sqare-foot academic building is situated on a 30-acre campus located off I-15 and Lakeview Parkway in South Provo. The building is expected to open in Summer 2023.

About Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine

Located in Provo, Utah, Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine (Noorda-COM) offers an innovative and unique approach to medical education. Noorda-COM provides 21st-century medical students a curricular model blending active, small group learning with advanced laboratory experiences and research opportunities while also emphasizing school and life balance with a commitment to health and wellness. Noorda-COM focuses on preparing future residency-ready physicians committed to providing patient-centered healthcare. Noorda-COM is a private, proprietary institution. An independent governing Board of Trustees oversees Noorda-COM. The Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation granted Noorda-COM Pre-Accreditation status in December 2020. For more information, visit

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