NYITCOM Physicians Celebrate National Doctors’ Day


NYITCOM Physicians Celebrate National Doctors’ Day

March 30, 2016

Photo: NYITCOM faculty members William Blazey (D.O. ’05), Jerry Balentine, D.O., and Nancy Bono (D.O. ’92)

Former President George Bush proclaimed March 30 as National Doctors’ Day in 1991 to honor physicians in the United States. Bush noted that in addition to the famous doctors we know, “there are countless others who carry on the quiet work of healing each day in communities throughout the United States—indeed, throughout the world.”

The Box asked several physicians at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine, including many who are alumni, to comment on their path to becoming a doctor, what keeps them motivated, and the challenges ahead for their field.

Jerry Balentine, D.O., Vice President for Medical Affairs and Global Health

The best thing about being a doctor is the ability to sit across from your patients, talk to them, and make a difference in their lives, whether that's helping them heal after an injury, control their blood pressure so they can enjoy their grandchildren, or deal with pain.

David Tegay (D.O. ’97), Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Clinical Specialties

I became a doctor because I was dissatisfied with the notion that significant physical and mental deterioration were inevitable consequences of aging. I was intrigued by the knowledge that the same genome providing the blueprint for life and health also can predispose people to disease and decline.

I stay motivated by knowing there are people suffering with inherited disorders whose causes remain unknown, or incompletely understood, and the thought that achieving deeper understanding will lead to better treatments and ultimately to cures. The best thing about being a physician is working with patients and seeing their health improve, and contributing to improved health for subsequent generations.

I'm aware of the advances in sequencing technologies and bioinformatics that allow us to generate an exponentially increased quantity of genetic information. The biggest challenge and opportunity clinical geneticists face is how to accurately interpret and intelligently apply that information at the individual and population levels as we seek improvements in human health.

Sonia Rivera-Martinez (D.O. ’02), Assistant Professor, Clinical Sciences

I want to help those in need of healthcare services, particularly those in a medically underserved population. I lost my father to colon cancer when I was only 12 years old. My family and I were blessed to have a wonderful family physician who was empathetic and caring. During my father's illness, this doctor not only took care of my father, but made sure we all were coping well with my his illness. The doctor assigned us tasks to provide comfort for my father. These assigned tasks helped us enormously as we all felt we were doing something important to keep him comfortable during his illness. This doctor inspired me. He had so much of an impact on our lives.

I'm motivated knowing that what I do helps others. My patients tell me this all the time.

William Blazey (D.O. ’05), Associate Professor and Assistant Dean, Preclinical Education

While I love science, it is the application of scientific knowledge that makes me happy. Additionally, I thrive on working and communicating with people. For me, becoming a doctor was a perfect combination of those interests.

In our profession, doctors say we “practice” medicine. Knowing there is always something to learn and improve on keeps me motivated. Each day I learn something about my patients and that compels me to learn for them as well. As an academic family physician, I wear many hats and that is probably the best part about being a doctor. The roles are numerous. I might start the day as a healer, then become a confidant, then a leader, and finish the day as a fellow human being.

The field of medicine is always changing and so much more rapidly than just a few years ago. This change makes it a challenge to keep up to date with all the new treatment options, but it also allows for more opportunities to heal patients today than in the past. There are also more opportunities for physicians to play many roles over their lifetime. It's exciting to be a doctor today!

Hallie Zwibel (D.O. ’11), Assistant Professor and Director, NYIT Center for Sports Medicine

The doctor-patient relationship is what keeps me motivated. Each day people who I have never met before trust me with information they may not tell their closest friends or family members. They open up and feel comfortable with sometimes probing questions. This is because they know that, as a physician, our role is solely to do what is in their best interest. There are not many professions where that is true. That is why I chose to be a doctor, and why I wake up proud to be one every day.

Nancy Bono (D.O. ’92), Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Family Medicine

As a child, I despised it whenever the word “blood” or the sight of it came up. But when my brother was injured in a car accident, my family members and I helped him recover, and that's when I realized caring for people is something I wanted to continue to do for the rest of my life. That is the moment I wanted to be an old-fashioned type of doctor who could treat many types of patients for many different reasons. My mindset was to be the doctor that everyone wants to go to. I didn't just want to take care of my patients; I sought to build relationships with them.

I've been through or seen difficult times in my profession, but none of that stopped me from becoming a good doctor. Tough times can feel incredibly overwhelming and exhausting, but hardships are opportunities for growth and learning, and that's where most of my strength comes from. I believe everyone should strive for excellence and follow their dreams. Today I am the person I want to be and I couldn't have done it without family, friends, professors, and, most importantly, determination.