The DO Difference

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Growing Up D.O.

In college, I studied more humanity courses than sciences, which strengthened my desire to become a physician.  To me having a philosophy of care and understanding my role in persons’ and a communities healthcare was just as important as knowing how to synthesize a molecule.

My ambitions in life derived from this philosophy, be a good person and to make life count. My life need to count to other people and their community.  I wanted a role, a place of significance in a community.  I wanted the opportunity to cultivate a community that I could belong to. Medical school could give me a track and training to meet this desire.

The most miserable period of my life was the waiting that occurred after applying to both osteopathic and allopathic medical schools. “Would I get in? Am I worthy enough?” These were the fears that plagued me.  Despite my degrees in anthropology, psychology and Hebrew language, I had self-doubt that my mentors may not deem me deserving to have the privilege of caring for other people. Ultimately, I had the choice of allopathic training at Northwestern University School of Medicine, or osteopathic training at Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine. I choose Nova Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine for my training.

Choosing osteopathic training over allopathic was an honest and simple choice based on my theories of how a person should be treated. A physician should completely understand all parts of the person-, the physical, the mental, the ethereal and included the not yet understood parts. I understood that a physician needed to understand all parts, to be able to treat and treat the person to the best of their abilities.  I choose the field medicine, where the philosophy was the closest to mine.  It was a choice between allopathic medicine and working to change their philosophy, or osteopathic medicine and standing up for the primary care, holistic, person based care provider.

Osteopathic Medical school gave me more than just knowledge but a way to apply that knowledge.  I learned how to relate to people, how to touch people, and how to live a life following the advice I was giving to patients. It taught me how to touch people and connect to my patients. I learned how to treat the whole patient with comfort and care.  The clinical reasoning courses taught me to think broadly and to cast a wide net in my thinking. This forces me to reevaluate symptoms looking for alternative causes or treatments.  I know when I leave work, that I have treated my patients to the best of my abilities.

I remember when I realized what a great choice I had made entering into this profession.  It was on a 3rd year rotation on a reservation in the badlands of South Dakota.  I was being driven to an outpatient care facility with only a stethoscope and prescription pad.  I was expected to talk with people, connect with them, and decide what to do. Do I ask for help, refer, provide simple care, or send them to the hospital? As scared as I was to be treating this rural population, I knew that I was impacting their lives and their community.

Osteopathic medicine was the right choice.  It has helped me reach my goal.  The success I with patients is due to the knowledge I received at an osteopathic medical school.  It shaped my approach to life.

Thirty year later, I am thankful for the course that osteopathic medicine has paved for me.  My friends, who are part of osteopathic community, are exercisers, prudent eaters, and critical thinkers with a touch of love. We have become professionals.  We have the ability to make a difference in the lives of others and to live our own lives in a balanced way.

Dr. Tyler Cymet, DO, Associate Vice President for Medical Education, AACOM