As osteopathic medical school graduates begin their residency training this July, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) spoke with three recent resident physician graduates about their transition into practice, their leadership roles within AACOM’s Assembly of Osteopathic Graduate Medical Educators (AOGME) Residents and Fellows Council (RFC) and what they hope to accomplish during this next phase of their careers as osteopathic physicians.
Daniel Krajcik, DO, MBA, graduated from the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) and matched into the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center for family medicine residency training. He is headed to the Cleveland Clinic Lakewood Family Health Center and will be working as a member of the teaching faculty.
Andrea DeSimone, DO, graduated from the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, completed her psychiatry residency in Philadelphia at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and finished her consultation liaison psychiatry fellowship at Brigham Women’s Hospital in Boston this June. She will be an attending physician in Dover, Delaware, where she will practice consultation liaison psychiatry at Bay Health Hospital.
Shawn Hamm, DO, MPH, graduated from the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine and trained in family medicine in Jacksonville, Florida, at the Ascension St. Vincent’s Family Medicine Residency Program. He is pursuing outpatient full-spectrum family medicine in a rural, medically underserved community in North Carolina at the Valdese Medical Associates clinic, which is the site of a prior osteopathic family medicine residency program. Dr. Hamm will help restore the program with Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education accreditation.
The answers below have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: What has your experience been like as an RFC member and leader? Would you recommend the Council to other residents and fellows?
Dr. Krajcik: I had a great experience in the RFC. The Council allowed me to stay connected to other osteopathic graduates across the country, especially this past year with the COVID-19 pandemic. Being able to share our struggles and experiences and having the opportunity to collaborate and connect was great. I also really enjoyed the opportunity to share advice and reassurance to current medical students through our RFC webinars. Supporting them and providing guidance not only on interviewing, but on virtual interviewing, was particularly important this year. It’s also important to note that participating in the RFC does not require a whole lot of extra time and is definitely manageable during residency. I know the primary goal of residency is to develop your medical knowledge, but you will still have time to do things you are passionate about, and you should take any opportunity you can to follow your passions.
Dr. DeSimone: My experience in the RFC was certainly a rich one, and I would definitely recommend joining. Residency can be tough. It’s easy to feel isolated or lost, but the RFC gave me perspective, and reminded me that there is life outside of residency and that my passion for medicine was still there.
Dr. Hamm: The RFC gave me the opportunity to be a voice for osteopathic medicine and for graduate medical education (GME) and institutional policy. I was appointed to multiple national task forces by AACOM leadership and was able to contribute to a wide range of issues, including how to best prepare incoming residents after COVID-19. I would definitely recommend the Council to those who want to continue in and grow their leadership, or who haven’t yet had the chance to develop leadership skills. The networking opportunities are truly invaluable. From my role as Policy Committee Chair, I also learned that a fundamental marker of advocacy and leadership is being able to teach, constructively inform and build awareness among the audience you’re trying to reach. I’ll take that lesson with me into future leadership positions within the osteopathic profession and while advocating for my patients.
Q: Why did you choose osteopathic medicine, and why is osteopathic training at the graduate level, as in programs with Osteopathic Recognition, important to you?
Dr. Krajcik: Osteopathic medicine wasn’t something I was totally familiar with growing up. My dad is an allopathic physician, an MD, but while I was in undergrad, he worked with a community hospital where almost everyone came from OU-HCOM. He thought the DOs there all took excellent care of their patients and was very impressed by all of them. I shadowed some of them and was blown away by the level of care they provided to their patients and realized that this was the type of doctor I wanted to be. Without my dad’s influence, I may not have known about the DO difference and am glad he pushed me that way. Now, I’m excited to work in a program that has Osteopathic Recognition (OR). It’s important to continue having your osteopathic training interwoven and integrated, not as something extra, but as an essential part of who you are and the care you can provide to your patients. OR will help programs recruit stronger candidates and lead to a better healthcare system.
Dr. DeSimone: What drove me to pursue medicine itself was psychiatry, and, learning that I didn’t want to treat the mind without also treating the body, I realized that I needed to go to medical school. I saw that exact sentiment—that body, mind and spirit connection—encapsulated in the tenets of osteopathic medicine. Osteopathic medicine truly is the future of medicine and has been since A.T. Still’s time. Osteopathic medicine provides you with an opportunity to not just treat disease, but to find health and live well, and that’s what it means to me to be a physician.
Dr. Hamm: The osteopathic medical philosophy aligns with the way I want to treat my patients. Finding a program with OR was critical to my training and the development of my clinical practice. At the undergraduate, medical school level, you learn the fundamentals, the philosophy. At the resident level, you learn how to put that philosophy into practice. Having residency faculty and a curriculum that promoted the way I wanted to practice medicine, through the osteopathic medical traditions, was very important to me. Now, because of my clinic’s history, I’ll be practicing in a community that knows what a DO is and the type of care DOs provide. I’m so excited to be the physician who comes back to the clinic and offers osteopathic care.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish during this next phase of your career?
Dr. Krajcik: I want to accomplish a whole lot! Past attendings have told me that the only year you learn more than your intern year is your first year of practice, so I’m excited to continue fine-tuning my skills and knowledge and getting comfortable managing complex disease. I also know the Cleveland Clinic Lakewood Family Health Center is excited to help me become an educator, and I’m hoping to build up a strong skill set to effectively teach others. I always knew I wanted to be a doctor, and since discovering my passion for teaching, I want to make sure that everyone I’m training is as great as they can be, especially if they are going to be the ones taking care of my family and friends.
Dr. DeSimone: I’ll be practicing in Dover, which itself is not rural, it’s very suburban, but the areas it draws from are quite rural and have a shortage of all physicians, especially psychiatrists. I’ll be the only psychiatrist practicing in-person in my hospital, as well as for outpatients. During COVID-19, there was so much talk of redeployment, with psychiatrists asking themselves what they should do to help with the response. Now, it’s swung the other way, and general medicine physicians are beginning to ask themselves if they should be redeployed to psychiatry to help with the mental health response because the needs are so great.
Dr. Hamm: I’m looking forward to learning about the needs of my new community and the challenges patients face with equity, access to healthcare and the social determinants of health that are causing barriers to care. I want to make an impact on those barriers as a DO. In five years, I hope to be a well-established physician in the community who is working to expand GME in this area of North Carolina, because expanding GME will be key to combatting current primary care physician shortages. The idea of turning a rural, medically underserved area into a community with a robust primary care physician network is very exciting to me.
Q: What was the best thing about your time in the RFC?
Dr. Krajcik: I’ve really appreciated the level of trust that AACOM and AOGME put in our Council to nominate various individuals to organizations, board positions and other leadership opportunities. It’s been great to see my colleagues from past years have exciting, new opportunities, and to support them as I grow my own journey. I love that the RFC has helped both myself and my network succeed.
Dr. DeSimone: I really enjoyed having the opportunity to submit abstracts to Educating Leaders on behalf of the RFC. I was passionate about contributing to education and academia, and I had the full support of board. We submitted two abstracts, both were accepted, and we were able to collaborate with other AACOM groups. It was really nice to have interdisciplinary crosstalk with other attending organizations.
Dr. Hamm: There were many, but probably the best thing about the RFC was spending time with my osteopathic resident and fellow colleagues and friends—sharing experiences, challenges, frustrations, best practices and interesting ideas that could be applied not only to myself but to my program to make it better. Residency is tough but having a network to rely on makes the process and journey a much more valuable experience.
To learn more about the RFC, and to join, please visit the Council web page.