Wolfgang Gilliar, D.O. Professor and Dean, College of Osteopathic Medicine
Department: Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine School: College of Osteopathic Medicine Campus: Old Westbury
Member of NYIT Since: 2004
Wolfgang Gilliar, D.O., is the American Osteopathic Foundation's 2012 Educator of the Year. The award honors excellence in teaching, passion for osteopathic medicine, and impact on the academic advancement of students. Gilliar is a member of an NYIT faculty-student research team studying the effect of osteopathic manual techniques on patients with Parkinson’s disease, hypertension, asthma, and back pain.
Why did you decide to join NYIT?
NYIT's College of Osteopathic Medicine has a great tradition of educating excellent osteopathic physicians; that clearly was a big attraction for me. As a specialist in both physical medicine and rehabilitation and osteopathic manual medicine, the invitation to join NYIT seemed to me the perfect opportunity to further develop and maintain this high level. Serving as chair of the Department of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) was especially attractive since I could use my clinical experience in private practice and teaching at Stanford University.
What are your responsibilities at NYIT?
In addition to giving lectures and hands-on practical laboratory sessions, I see patients in the clinic and act as a listener and supporter of our faculty and students. We are engaging in new research activities. I try to keep the department strong and motivated by focusing on open communication, exchange, and successful teamwork.
Why do you like working here?
I enjoy the direct dialog and exchange with students, faculty, and the administration. New ideas are welcome and received as part of moving forward rather than relying on the status quo. As NYIT supports my work with state-of-the art technology, we are in a position to develop new education models for the physician of the future ... models of knowing and hands-on doing. Also, NYIT gives me the opportunity to work on a global level with other physician groups from abroad.
How are today's health care challenges impacting your approach to teaching future doctors?
We need to make sure that students know the basics, such as doing excellent history and physical examination, even better. And we need to broaden the topics that we teach and introduce to students, including global medicine. Students have to learn systems practice and interdisciplinary practice, and need to have a good grasp of statistics and how to read medical literature.
What was your first encounter with osteopathic medicine?
When I was a pre-med student at the University of Arizona in 1981, I had the opportunity to observe an osteopathic physician in practice and he turned me on to the field. He treated a competitive swimmer who could no longer take a deep breath and had exhausted all medical care, and everybody was scratching their head about the case. I was there when, through his treatment, he somehow "relaxed" the respiratory diaphragm. The patient was able to take a full deep breath after his successful treatment.
What has been your favorite NYIT experience?
There are actually two. Graduation is the real reward for teaching, and I enjoy seeing the excitement of our students and their families. Secondly, the positive feedback I received in response to my newly published medical textbook on musculoskeletal manual medicine was palpable and much appreciated.
Share a memorable moment about work.
As part of a detailed neurologic examination, I once asked a patient to describe the things I pointed out to him. After lifting my tie, he stated, "You mean that ugly tie?" We both laughed. When he returned for his next visit, I made sure to wear the very same tie that day. We both laughed again!
Outside of work, what do you do to relax?
Being so close to Manhattan, I like to spend weekends exploring the breadth of museums and the exciting art installations. I enjoy being surprised by any creative expressions that you can meet on visits to Manhattan.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
"Follow your dream and don't let anyone take it from you," which is at the same level as "Do the work at hand, do it well, do it betterand remember there is no shortcut, no free lunch."
Do you have a favorite technology used on or off the job?
The mechanical precision of analog cameras before the digital ones were introduced. To this day, I have not found a camera better than my “old” F2 Nikon. It is probably my biggest treasure.
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