I grew up in a household and family of teachers. There are 18 educators or school administrators in my relatively immediate family. Prior to high school, I had never even considered being a physician, but, as with many teens I aspired to do something totally different than others in my family. What I have learned is that sometimes, no matter what path you take, you can’t change who you are.
The first time I taught was in college at UC Berkeley. Berkeley had a “democratic education at Cal” series, student taught and student run. Over college I taught in Integrative Medicine and Women’s Health. In Osteopathic medical school, I was selected as the first “pre-doctoral teaching fellow”.
My role as a student faculty member in the department of Osteopathic manipulation was a great adventure, leading me into clinical research doing osteopathic treatments on women in labor in the Dominican Republic and mentoring medical students to learn the art of manual treatments.
Residency training is another form of physician apprenticeship and after internship year I was always teaching as well as learning. My final year I was elected chief resident, a leadership role again rooted in teaching.
Every day now, in clinical practice, I realize what I learned as a medical anthropology major, that the root word of doctor in Latin is “docere” which means “to teach”. My favorite part of doctoring is sharing the knowledge I have amassed from books, studies and experiences with patients up against a health challenge.
While I enjoy shedding light on the path of using medications, supplements and lifestyle changes, my favorite part is figuring out how to tailor recommendations to where someone is at right now. Teaching always starts with learning what your students know and finding out how to support their growth and change.
Those of you that come into the clinic in the next few months will see the next phase of my teaching path. I have students from Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Parker rotating with me now. I teach in the department of Osteopathic manipulation at Rocky Vista on Thursdays and several months of the year I act as a clinical professor taking fourth year students in their final months before their residency.
I strongly believe that if I do not demonstrate the true art and science of being an Osteopathic physician with these students, they will not come to respect the simple benefits and unique attributes of our profession. Every day as I teach the treatment techniques to 1st and 2nd year medical students they say, “you actually use this?”. I smile and I say, “yes—every day”.
I give great thanks to all the teachers and mentors I have had along my path. Many of them have been and continue to be my own patients. Thank you for letting my students listen in, try out their doctoring skills and learn from you too. As Thanksgiving approaches, I am in humble gratitude to you all.