Featured Osteopathic Family Physician:
Ronna New, DO

Dr. Ronna D. New grew up on a small town in Virginia  where her family owned a medical equipment company for patients who need care in their homes. Watching her parents helping people inspired her to go into medicine.

Dr. New is a 2007 graduate of the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine.  She completed a residency in family medicine and a geriatric medicine fellowship both at the University of Louisville. She has taught at the University of Pikesville Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine. She has also taught at the University of Louisville within the family medicine residency and geriatric fellowship.

Last year, the University of Louisville Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine gave her its excellence in teaching award, presented to one attending annually by residents. This year, she is receiving the ACOFP 2014 Young Physician of the Year Award at the ACOFP Annual Convention & Scientific Seminars in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

For the ACOFP, Dr. New currently serves on the Women’s Initiative Task Force Committee, Residents/New Physicians Committee, Membership Committee and Leadership Oversight Committee. Previously, she’s been ACOFP’s President of her school’s chapter, National Student President and Board of Governors Resident Academic Board Member.

She said when picking a specialty, some student may feel pressured to make a decision early in their studies. She advises that students should resist that temptation and take their time to decide what is best for them.

She encourages students to seek out mentors who have lives that you’d one day like to have. Or in other words, students should pick mentors who inspire them. It’s also important to actively look for mentors by shadowing other doctors. She said even as a pre-med at the University of Virginia where she did her undergraduate degree, she spent some of her free time shadowing doctors.

Q.  Why did you go into osteopathic family medicine?
I chose osteopathic family medicine because I enjoy the focus that osteopathic family medicine places on the patient and patient centered care.  I enjoy the broad scope of medicine that the practice provides and feel that osteopathic family medicine emphasizes all of the aspects that are important for good patient care (from mind and body, to spirit).  I enjoy especially focusing on care of the geriatric patient and my osteopathic training has provided me with skills that enable me to display compassion to my patients while also evaluating and treating their complex medical issues.  I am so passionate about caring for my patients and their families.

Q:  What is your favorite aspect of osteopathic family medicine?
My favorite aspect is the relationships that my practice allows me to build with my patients.  It is so rewarding to have the opportunity to care for a grandmother, and her daughter, and her granddaughter.  You truly can practice the full spectrum of care for all ages!  To me, it is the relationships that you will always remember and this is what gets you excited to get out of bed and care for your patients every day.  I learn more from my patients than they will ever learn from me.  When I care for my geriatric patients, they share life wisdom and their own stories.  There are moments when they share something with you that lets you know that you have touched them in some way.  Knowing that what I do helps others and touches them in some way is what encourages me and gives my spirit a boost to keep going!

Q: What is your best advice for students who are undecided?
My advice to students is to take time to make your decision and do what you feel is best for you.  It is okay to take your time and it is okay to change your mind.  No one wants to complete “extra” training because they can’t make up their mind, but considering a rotating internship may be needed if you need an extra year to decide your career path.  To me, I feel that the only way to truly decide is to see physicians in action and build a relationship with them.  As a student, you are required to complete certain rotations.  On these rotations, you will likely find many great mentors in your attendings.  However, you may desire to also seek out some shadowing experiences with other physicians in your community that are not required by your medical school.  If you are considering osteopathic family medicine, find an osteopathic family physician in the community where you feel that you will most likely desire to practice in the future and spend time with them.  Follow them in their day to day activities and see what they actually do.  If you are having trouble finding a mentor or shadowing experience, the ACOFP has several tools to help you find a mentor.  Contact the ACOFP and explain your situation, they will be happy to help.  It is also nice to spend time with residents in the specialty you are considering.  Consider completing a rotation in a certain specialty or in a program that you are considering.  Talking with physicians at all stages in their careers (interns, residents, and practicing physicians) and establishing relationships with them will provide you with valuable insight and a great avenue to explore the specialty.

Q:  What kind of person makes the best osteopathic family physician?
To be a good osteopathic family physician, I feel that it is important to be a compassionate and caring individual who desires to get to know their patient and care for them beyond their individual illness. Osteopathic family medicine is not just about treating illness.  It is about establishing a relationship with your patients, building trust, and promoting their overall health and wellness as well as that of their family.  I find that it is important to be a “people” person and to also know how to listen.  When you train as an osteopathic family physician, you learn about all of the body systems and how to care for many different diseases.  You will graduate from residency with a wealth of knowledge.  However, the most important tool that you have to care for your patients is one that we cannot teach in medical school or residency.  It is genuine concern and compassion in caring for your patient.  This tool sets you apart from others and is always there in all of your patient encounters, whether you are caring for a patient with minor illness, a patient with a major illness, or a patient at the end of life.

Published April, 2015