Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.s) — fully licensed physicians who have a whole-person approach to medicine — hold some of the highest medical roles in the country.
Take for example, Humayun J. Chaudhry, D.O., MACP, who’s president and CEO of The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), a national non-profit organization representing all medical boards within the United States that license and discipline allopathic and osteopathic physicians.
Dr. Chaudhry, who joined FSMB in 2009, says while the medical community knows about osteopathic medicine, members of the public often ask questions.
“Every D.O. has their own sort of elevator speech,” he said. “For me, it’s a physician who is dedicated to a holistic approach to patient care and who is trained exactly the same as any other physician, but has additional skills in hands on manipulation, or manipulative medicine.”
The field is growing, too. According to the American Osteopathic Association, 1 out of every 4 medical students in the United States is enrolled in an osteopathic medical school.
“It’s an exciting time to be in healthcare because medicine is dynamic,” Dr. Chaudhry said. “There’s so much happening in the clinical space, and new ways of diagnosing, managing, and treating.”
He says COVID-19 is a great example of how medicine is always changing, challenging providers to better understand and manage conditions and care.
Dr. Chaudhry, who started out as an internist, enjoys working in public health. He previously served as health commissioner for New York’s Suffolk County, the ninth-largest health department in the country.
“In public health and with FSMB I can impact healthcare delivery in a much different way, in a more potent way that impacts not just my patient, or my clinic or my office practice, but physicians and patients across the country through the decisions we make,” he said.
He couldn’t have predicted his career path, which is why he encourages students and young doctors to keep their options open and pace themselves. He also says it’s OK to say “no,” explaining early in his career he said “yes” to every work opportunity.
Saying “no” is part of a work-life balance that reflects a D.O.’s osteopathic training about holistic care.
“We have to look at our entire persona,” Dr. Chaudhry said. “We can’t simply take care of all patients 24/7. We have to think about our own health, we have to think about our families and our friends, and try to balance it as best we can, which is not always easy.”
Dr. Chaudhry says the pandemic has been a challenge for the entire world. He’s been impressed by how healthcare professionals have come together — being nimble, flexible and collaborative — to help.
He and his colleagues are taking on other important societal issues, too.
“In the middle of this pandemic with this virus, we also have several other pandemics going on,” he said. “Health equity, systemic racism, and what we can do about it have been among the issues that healthcare organizations have had to address and should address.”
Dr. Chaudhry recently moderated a three-hour FSMB symposium called “Health Equity and Medical Regulation: How Disparities Are Impacting U.S. Health Care Quality and Delivery and Why it Matters,” which looked at racism, implicit bias, and other factors driving disparities in U.S. healthcare.
He says it’s important to better understand the issues, so as to help improve how healthcare can be delivered safely and equitably. The same way he would consult a specialist about a patient, he asks experts to help him and his team understand important issues.
“Whether I’ve realized it or not, I’ve brought a lot of my clinical experience and wisdom to the roles I’ve held in leadership in making sure that, at the end of the day, we have the right answer and that we do the right thing,” Dr. Chaudhry said.