Featured Osteopathic Family Physician:
Lynn Wilson, DO

Dr. Lynn Wilson grew up as the oldest of four girls in East Palestine, OH, a small farming community on the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line. She is the first physician in her family. She went into osteopathic medicine after a shadowing experience during college at Lehigh Valley Hospital with an internist, Michael Pistoria, DO, who recommended that it fit both her personality and her goal of becoming a physician. She later attended the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine on his recommendation.

She’s currently a Faculty Member/Associate Program Director of the Family Medicine Residency Program at Atlantic Health System in Morristown, New Jersey.

Dr. Wilson served as the Resident Member for the ACOFP’s Preceptorship and Web and Social Media committees. She was also Resident Member on the American Osteopathic Association’s Council on Palliative Care Issues.

In 2013, she was named Michigan ACOFP Resident of the Year and Michigan Osteopathic Association Resident of the Year.

Dr. Wilson’s mentors have taught her that she can achieve any goal with the help of others, and that mentors are there to actively guide and help along the way, not just act as role models. Students should ask mentors directly for help achieving their goals.

She believes undecided students shouldn’t feel like they have to make decisions about their specialties right away. Rather they should take a step back and keep an open mind.

Q: What kind of person makes the best osteopathic family physician?
A person who is open-minded, empathetic and personable. You need to be able to care for anyone who walks in our office door. You need to learn where your patients are coming from in order to establish a relationship. Once a relationship is established, trust is gained.  It is only then that you can really provide the highest quality of care.  It is important that we as physicians set aside our own thoughts and feelings to step into the shoes of our patients.  

Q: What is your best advice for students who are undecided?
Keep an open mind, and look for a job where you enjoy each day to its fullest. Find what you are passionate about, and then make that what you do every day for work.  Don't feel like you need to make a decision about your future on the first day of clinical rotations. You have time! Try each job out, and then ask yourself if this is what you want to be doing every day in 20 years. If the answer is yes, then you know your role. If the answer is no, move to the next rotation and try again.  I enjoyed a lot of things, but family medicine and geriatrics were the ones I could see myself doing for many more years!

Q: What is your favorite aspect of osteopathic family medicine?
I enjoy that my days are varied.  I work in a variety of locations (hospital, office, nursing home and home visits) where I get to experience a variety of patient populations. My favorite part of my day is when I am able to explain to patients (in terms they can understand) their diagnosis, their treatment options and long-term follow up.  I also enjoy educating patients on wellness and disease prevention. 

Q: Why did you go into osteopathic family medicine?
I love working with patients! I enjoyed building relationships and I wanted to be a part of educating patients and their families.  I felt that in family medicine I was able to have the biggest impact on patient care.

Q: What do you know now in regard to selecting a specialty that you wish you knew when you were an osteopathic medical student?
I wish I had known how much psychiatry, psychology and socioeconomic disparities I would deal with on a daily basis!  When you look for behavioral health, you will find it involved many of the patients you see. It doesn't always present itself as clearly as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, but it is still in the background and has a significant impact on disease burden and patient wellness.

Q: What qualities should students look for in a mentor and what are some red flags for them to avoid?
Find someone who is interested in helping you achieve your goals. A mentor should be someone who is interested in finding out what it is you want to do, and then helping to give you suggestions and ideas to achieve it.  You want to find someone to encourage you, to support you, and to respect you.  Avoid people who are trying to force you into any particular mold.  There are people out there who will try to help you become exactly what *they* need. It's really important not to stick to a single mentor. Get a variety of ideas from a few different people, and then combine them to create the best "you" that you can be!

Q: What have your mentors taught you?
Over the years my mentors have taught me a variety of things, but I think the most important thing is that you can achieve any goal, even if it seems too big, with the help of others.  We don't have to go on this journey alone.  Our mentors are there to help us along the way.  Accept their help, and then pay that help forward to the next group of trainees. 

Q: What specific questions should students ask their mentors?
Students should ask their mentor for help in reaching their goals.  Have an idea where you want to go, then ask your mentor to help you get there!  I am always happy to share my path to this point with students, but as a mentor I'm more interested in helping students get to their own goals-which may not be accessible from my path! 

Published May, 2015