Featured Osteopathic Family Physician:
Aron Guttin, DO

Dr. Aron Guttin grew up in the Philadelphia area where his father practiced as an MD, as a general surgeon. When Dr. Guttin was considering what career to pursue at SUNY Binghamton, his father suggested that he become a DO because the philosophy of patient care fit his personality and philosophical approach at problem solving.

Taking his father’s advice, Dr. Guttin graduated with a bachelor’s in psychobiology before going to the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. There he was involved with underserved communities and acted as Vice President of the Project for Latino Health. He completed his family medicine residency at Aria Health in Philadelphia.

Dr. Guttin spent a couple years in private practice at Bensalem medical practice, and recently began working as a Primary Care Physician at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, where he is also heading the Women’s Health initiative at his Community Based Outpatient Clinic.

He believes the best mentors are those who treat those they mentor like respected colleagues. He suggests finding a few mentors before settling on those who have a deep effect on you personally. He adds that mentors should provide not just with advice but also emotional support to the growing young physician.

He says his mentors have taught him to trust himself as a physician and to fulfill the ideologies of Osteopathy by always do what’s best for his patients.

Q: What kind of person makes the best osteopathic family physician?
There are many ways to skin a cat, and there are many ways to be the best at what you do. The most important thing is to first define “the best.” You can measure these things by grades and aptitude, affability, availability, quality measure scores, patient satisfaction…etc…etc.

In my brain’s definition, I think that the ability to quickly build a trusting and personal rapport is what will make you the best. That is 100 percent communication skills – verbal and non-verbal and direct and indirect.

Your office staff can have a great effect on YOUR communication skills. It is very easy to lose sight of some of the simple things about life as we grow through our training process. We easily get wrapped up in the pressures from the medico-legal climate and to see more volume with higher quality care.

Approaching any decision involving a patient’s care from treatment choices to the words you use to introduce yourself to someone new have a great impact on how those around perceive you, especially the ones that (should) matter the most – your patients. Your patients know that you have “all” the knowledge in your head (and sometimes your peripheral brain – your smartphone at your fingertips) but for them to experience your translation of that into something useful, can really take you a long way to build the best rapport possible.

When you have no barriers to communication, you and your patient are capable of accomplishing tremendous things. Many times it takes that little extra effort for you to call instead of your nurse for a simple blood test result, but that call can make or break your success of treating that person for the rest of your years with that individual.

Q: What is your best advice for students who are undecided?
Don’t worry about it and ENJOY IT. Once you decide you will be committed to that for quite some time. of course nothing is set in stone, but sometimes you will feel that way.. Enjoy all the options and immerse yourself in anything you are in. Talk to different people at different points in their careers. Talk with people who know you well, family members, past attendings or residents you’ve worked with, nurses you connected to, maybe even a patient from your clinical days that somehow had you figured out as scared naive third year medical student. I didn’t decide until the second month of fourth year!

Q: What is your favorite aspect of osteopathic family medicine?
Getting to speak with so many types of people. it opens you to different perspectives, different ways of understanding the same problem, and helps you to flex your mind in a way that you otherwise would have been blind to. Ultimately it just makes me a happier person, since you can learn lessons from your patients that would have taken you 50 years to learn on your own.

Q: Why did you go into osteopathic family medicine?
For selfish reasons – to be happy. When I was trying to decide what to specialize in, I always found that that family practitioners I worked with were actually the happiest bunch. Of course they probably complained the most about how hard it is to survive with the changing times, and how it was like in the good old days….. but when it came to the crux of the source of satisfaction from what they did, being allowed to the innermost “circle of trust,” and to be able to truly help them live through years of quality.

Q: What do you know now in regard to selecting a specialty that you wish you knew when you were an osteopathic medical student?
Only how vast career options are even within a specialty.

Q: What qualities should students look for in a mentor and what are some red flags for them to avoid?

One who tries to understand you personally. Not because they are “nice people,” and want to take you under their wing, but those who approaches you with as much respect as they would approach other colleagues. The name of the game is ultimately to take care of a community; a population, as a medical team, that you are now part of.

We go through many mentors, but there is always that one or two that was able to have a deep effect on you. mentors can offer us wisdom, advice, guidance, and emotional support. They should be able to deliver those in a way that pushes your comfort zone while keeping you safe. They should be able to open you to realize what your role and your responsibilities will actually be, while trying to keep your sanity!

Q: What have your mentors taught you?
To trust myself. To do what is best for that person sitting on the exam table across from you. And to be happy. Plain and Simple. I can’t really verbalize this. It needs to happen, hopefully with the proper guidance.

Q: What specific questions should students ask their mentors?
Anything that comes to mind. Treat them like your awesome uncle or aunt. The one that you can ask them anything you wouldn’t ask your parents. It’s tough to generalize what to ask a mentor, because that relationship should be so unique that only you can figure that out.

Published April, 2015