Featured Osteopathic Family Physician:
Sean Perrine, DO

Dr. Sean Perrine attended Franklin & Marshall College before heading to Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He then completed his osteopathic family medicine residency at St. Joseph Medical Center.

He is currently employed at SouthEast Lancaster Health Services as a PRN medical provider. 

In 2013, he received the Frieda O. Vickers and Major James Vickers Family Practice Award.

He has received many scholarships, including the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association Archie Feinstein, DO, Scholarship, ACOFP Auxiliary Scholarship, ACOFP Foundation Scholarship, ACOFP Board of Trustees Scholarship and Lancaster Osteopathic Health Foundation Harold F. White DO, Scholarship.

He is the chairperson of the ACOFP Residents Committee and he’s a member of the ACOFP Future Leadership Committee, Recruiting Students to Family Medicine Committee, and the Convention and Site Committee.

He is a representative on the Pennsylvania Board of Trustees Central Region Representative.

Q: What kind of person makes the best osteopathic family physician?
We have the reputation of being a rather personable specialty. You need good interpersonal skills to connect with patients when they’re telling you their deepest darkest secrets. And you need to pay attention to all of the fine details without losing sight of the big picture. Specialists know everything about something, but we know something about everything. We specialize in treating the whole person.

: What is your best advice for students who are undecided?
Approach each clinical clerkship with an open mind. I didn’t expect to enjoy my general surgery rotation, but I worked alongside some great residents and attending physicians. They validated my initial inclination that the exam room – not the operating room – was my comfort zone. If you find yourself enjoying some aspect of each clinical clerkship, but you can’t envision yourself being limited to one patient demographic or one organ system, then family medicine may be the specialty for you.

: What is your favorite aspect of osteopathic family medicine?
Variety! It’s the spice of life and the spice of our specialty. Your day may begin with an adult hypertensive patient, followed by a pediatric patient with asthma, followed by a Spanish-speaking prenatal patient, then finally culminating with an elderly patient with dementia. After you admit your uncontrolled diabetic to the critical care unit, you hurry back to the office to excise your patient’s cancerous skin lesion, and then you perform OMT to relieve another patient’s lower back spam. We care for patients from the womb to the tomb, and every day is delightfully unpredictable.

: Why did you go into osteopathic family medicine?
I was first introduced to the specialty when I interned at SouthEast Lancaster Health Services as an undergraduate. At the organization, a federally qualified health center, there were teams of physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, social workers, nurse educators, and other dedicated personnel who strived to provide culturally competent care to a challenging underserved population. I was privileged to work alongside several osteopathic family physicians and observe their unbiased approach to delivering quality healthcare. Their emphasis on preventive medicine was remarkable. Eventually, I began to envision myself providing primary care to a disadvantaged community.

: What do you know now in regard to selecting a specialty that you wish you knew when you were an osteopathic medical student?
You can’t worry about meeting the expectations of others. I thought that I wanted to pursue a residency in family medicine prior to the start of my clinical clerkships, however I tried to approach each rotation with an open mind. Many of the residents and attending physicians with whom I worked offered words of encouragement. On several occasions, my career goals were met with disdain and persuasive efforts to lure me to another specialty. Although I certainly could have changed my mind, I continued to commit myself to osteopathic family medicine. It’s important to listen to your gut and stay true to yourself.

Q: What qualities should students look for in a mentor and what are some red flags for them to avoid?
Mentors are wise, trusted, influential superiors. Mentorship is the process through which they invest their time and expertise in you, taking you under their wings to guide you into the profession. As you develop relationships with residents, physicians, educators, and administrators within the specialty, try to identify those with similar values as your own. Discuss your commonalities in background and career choice, and share your ambitions for the future. Ask them how they achieved their goals and explain how they can help you to achieve yours. Keep in mind that mentorship is a natural progression of a relationship. It cannot be forced.

: What have your mentors taught you?
You must pay it forward! I’m honored that several of my mentors are osteopathic family physicians. They are skilled leaders and accomplished healthcare providers, but they haven’t forgotten that they used to walk in my shoes. They were lucky to find mentors when they were newly minted medical students and residents, and they understand the importance of continuing the tradition. They have counseled and supported me with the expectation that I will do the same for others when I advance in my career.

: What specific questions should students ask their mentors?
What keeps you motivated when you’re ready to throw in the towel? Everyone has good days and bad days. I’m always curious to know how my mentors rise above their disappointments and self-doubts to continue striving to be the very best osteopathic family physicians.

Published January, 2016