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New roles aim to strengthen Life West foundation for academics

As part of a two-part series, we are introducing some of the new directors and leaders who are moving the needle at Life Chiropractic College West.

In Part 1 of the guide, we talked to you about new staff members who are leading various operations. In this post, Part 2, we are talking to members of the Life West community who work with faculty and students.

Dr. Jeana Edwards,
Clinically Inspired Learning Program Coordinator

Dr. Edwards has a history with Life West. She’s been a student here, and now she’s teaching classes.

Jeana Edwards, DC

Which is exactly how she planned it – her goal when she first entered Life West was to become a chiropractor teacher. It’s written down in a “goals” statement from her first days here as a student that she keeps in her desk. And now she’s setting the curriculum for the new Clinically Inspired Learning (CIL) program.

“Having been a student at Life West, Dr. Edwards has an in-depth understanding of being in the chiropractic program and can help guide and shape this new direction of the curriculum that gives students the clinical exposure to enhance their knowledge,” said Dr. Pardeep Kullar, Vice President of Academic Affairs. Dr. Kullar’s department oversees faculty and curriculum.

But Dr. Edwards is quick to point out that many other faculty members have their hands on the steering wheel for the CIL program. Drs. Mandy McManis and David Sedghi have been working side by side with her, she said, to make sure all requirements are really relevant to clinic work.

The refresh in the curriculum began with President Ron Oberstein, who wanted to get students into clinic earlier so that academia and health center internships no longer feel like two separate learning environments under the same roof.

“Students start in clinic in fifth quarter instead of ninth or 10th quarter,” Dr. Edwards said about the changes, which gives them a jump on the “10,000 hours” to become an expert in chiropractic care. “By bringing them into clinic in fifth quarter, Life West sets a slower pace for them and they get tidbits as opposed to getting a drink from fire hydrants in higher quarters,” she said, describing the new approach as “little sips until you get more confident.”

The goal is to make sure that educators, such as herself, and mentor doctors can see where a student is struggling and help them get to the finish line. At the same time, Life West wants to make sure that all of the content is relevant to real-world experiences. That means things will continue to change, Dr. Edwards said.

“We will always have a few growing pains because we have to be flexible and cutting-edge,” she said.

Dr. Edwards has also been named the new chair of Clinical Sciences at Life West.

Adam Thompson, Director of Education and Compliance 

Adam Thompson

Coming to Life West was a bit like coming home for Adam Thompson. He grew up in the Bay Area, and jobs in higher education during the past 20 years have taken him around the country. He’s been an academic adviser, a regional director for three campuses, a school president, a dean of academic affairs, and he’s even taught classes. The campuses he’s worked on include university settings, a culinary school and an art school. That experience will help Life West as it grows and adapts new policies and programs.

“Adam Thompson’s hiring at Life West continues the pattern of bringing higher education experts into our college to elevate our program to a university standard,” Dr. Kullar said.

Thompson said he’ll focus on faculty oversight and development, and he’s looking at the class experience for students and asking, “How do we make that great?”

His first project has been to get department chairs in place. Life West just announced that the following positions have been filled:

  • Technique chair: Christian Labau, DC
  • Clinical Sciences chair: Jeana Edwards, DC
  • Basic Sciences chair: David Straub

Thompson will also work with accrediting agencies such as the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) to make sure that Life West is always in compliance.

Thompson said he’s impressed by what he’s seen at Life West. With several new additions to the Office of Academic Affairs, many of them non-chiropractors, the focus now will be on building up the academic infrastructure. “It’s making something that’s working more efficient by bringing in policy, standard process, more flexibility for additional programs, more electives,” he said, adding that the goal is to reinforce the relationship between the academic side and the clinical side.

Thompson is ready to get to work and solve problems. “Everything is solvable with cooperation and teamwork,” Thompson added.

Barbara Delli Gatti, Library Director

In her 28 years, with Life West, Barbara Delli Gatti has seen a big change in the way students use the library’s resources.

Barbara Delli Gatti

“It’s completely different from when I started in 1991,” she said. “They like group studying, they’re more comfortable with that, and they like whiteboards to brainstorm. I will see them with a laptop, cell phone and iPad sitting on the table.”

That’s meant moving resources online, and moving shelves of print journals out to make room for more long tables.

“The library space needs to change for the students,” Delli Gatti said. She takes a page from a former colleague, who used to tell students, “Welcome to your library.”

“I always thought that was the most appropriate thing to say,” Delli Gatti said. “I want to make it a place where they feel comfortable and where they have resources to assist with their learning styles. It’s just wonderful that education can offer opportunities or more avenues for a person to learn. Credit technology for that and for the ways students learn themselves now – it’s more collaborative.”

Dr. Kullar is thinking about advancements in technology too. “With the promotion of Barbara Delli Gatti to Library Director, the college will have her experience and knowledge at Life West to sustain the core in our Learning Resource Center, while her interest in library technology will move Life West to new advancements in learning,” she said via email.

Delli Gatti took over the director’s position after Annette Osenga, who has been with the college for 38 years, retired this past summer. Delli Gatti says she has big shoes to fill, and it’s still weird to think of herself as the director.

In many ways, her plans for the library follow the path that Osenga was already envisioning.

For example, an Anatomage dissection table will be added to the library soon. Delli Gatti is also hoping to redesign the floor plan of library and provide more places where groups can study and brainstorm together.

Today’s Life West library is a far cry from what it was when part of the campus was housed by an old elementary school in San Lorenzo. When Delli Gatti, who had just moved from Michigan, applied for the job, part of her tour included a stop in a hallway, which served as the entrance into the library and turned into a room. Her desk – the only desk – was in the center of the room.

But the job was really always about the people of Life West, the students and the faculty, Delli Gatti said. And that’s what is guiding her now.

“I look forward to working with all of them, and I want to hear their suggestions and for them to realize the library is their place, it’s for them, and we are the gate-keepers,” she said.



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