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CHICAGO–Ernest R. Gelb, DO, FACOFP, an AOA board-certified osteopathic family medicine specialist and geriatrician from Lewes, Delaware, has been installed as the 126th president of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). The inauguration took place during the AOA’s Annual House of Delegates Meeting, which gathers approximately 500 physician and medical student delegates each July for policymaking and election of leadership officers.
Dr. Gelb takes office during a time of tremendous growth and expansion for the osteopathic medical profession, which includes more than 178,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students. “Today, more than ever before, patients are seeking our osteopathic approach to medicine, with its focus on whole person care for the body, mind and spirit,” said Dr. Gelb.
The osteopathic medical profession added more than 7,300 DOs to the physician workforce in 2022 and is poised to continue exponential growth with more than one in four U.S. medical students choosing to practice osteopathic medicine. “This is such an exciting time to celebrate the distinctiveness of the osteopathic profession,” said Dr. Gelb. “As AOA President, I will work every day to honor our profession and collaborate with our osteopathic physicians and medical students across the country for the betterment of our patients.”
During the coming year, Dr. Gelb plans to focus the AOA’s efforts on strengthening opportunities for AOA Board Certification and increasing the availability of osteopathic graduate medical education options for DO graduates. “Although we are seeing record placements for our students in the NRMP Match, topping out over 99%, I would love to see us achieve a 100% residency placement rate for our students” he said. Additional areas of focus will include addressing physician wellness, advocating against inappropriate scope of practice expansion and increasing levels of diversity across the profession.
Dr. Gelb, who aspired from an early age to become a country doctor, was drawn to the osteopathic profession, in part, because of its strong roots in primary care and focus on caring for underserved populations. After earning his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), Dr. Gelb completed postgraduate training at Beaumont Hospital (formerly Botsford Hospital) in Farmington Hills, Michigan. In addition, he served in the military as a member of the U.S. Public Health Service
Following his education and training, Dr. Gelb spent nearly 40 years caring for patients in rural Pennsylvania and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. “I’ve considered it a great privilege throughout my career to serve rural communities that may not otherwise have access to healthcare,” he said.
Dr. Gelb’s road to leadership began early in his career. Work to advance parity in scope of practice and credentialing at the local level soon led Dr. Gelb to become more involved in advocacy at the state and federal levels. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association (POMA) and has received multiple awards, including the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Family Physicians Society Family Physician of the Year and the POMA Distinguished Service Award.
In addition to his organizational leadership, Dr. Gelb served for more than a decade as an assistant professor of family medicine at PCOM and spent several years mentoring young physicians as a faculty member at the Tidelands Health MUSC Family Medicine Residency Program. “The incoming generation of DO residents and students has the collective potential to make a major positive impact on our society,” he said. “From board rooms to operating rooms, we will continue working to advance and celebrate our osteopathic distinctiveness in communities across the nation.”
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) represents more than 178,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students; promotes public health; encourages and funds scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; and is the accrediting agency for colleges of osteopathic medicine. To learn more about DOs and the osteopathic philosophy of medicine, visit www.osteopathic.org.
The AOA’s House of Delegates, comprised of approximately 500 delegates representing osteopathic state medical associations, specialty societies, residents, fellows, and students from throughout the country, meets annually in July to set organizational policies for the AOA and elect its Board of Trustees and officers.
Ernst Lamothe Jr.
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