Student Profile: James Docherty

Garden City, N.Y.
D.O., Osteopathic Medicine
Year Expected to Graduate
Long Island (Old Westbury, N.Y.)
Student Profile: James Docherty

James Docherty Dives Into a New Role

As NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine student James Docherty was packing for a family vacation to the Cayman Islands last July, he received an email telling him he had been selected as the chair of the Committee on Medical Education, one of the 2018-2019 American Medical Association (AMA) Medical Student Section Standing (MSS) Committees.

“I was elated,” he said. “I thought, ‘What a great way to start a vacation!’”

Docherty was selected from a national pool of applicants by the MSS Governing Council. In his new role he will act as a key source of information about activities, programs, and positions of the MSS. He will also work closely with the national MSS Governing Council and MSS Regional leadership.

“I have a lot of ideas and visions for the committee,” said Docherty who officially began his post in July. “The number one thing I’m looking forward to is increasing awareness of medical education issues to the nation’s medical student body. There are more than 150 medical schools in the United States and none of them teach the same way. I enjoy learning about the different styles and approaches other schools take for different topics, such as ethics and end-of-life care.”

The committee holds regular journal club meetings and encourages everyone in the MSS to read and participate in the conversation via Facebook. “I hope this provides steps for students to approach their schools if they feel their institution can improve,” he said.

Docherty has been actively involved with the American Medical Association for the past year. Before he was selected for his new role as chair, he was a member of the Committee on Medical Education during 2017-2018. “NYITCOM and especially the Academic Medicine Scholars Program has really allowed me to expand and explore my interests outside of clinical practice,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about conducting clinical trials and plan on continuing osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) research in the future.” (Docherty is currently working with Associate Professor and Chair of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Sheldon Yao, D.O., on a clinical trial that examines the benefits of OMM on Parkinson’s disease.) “[But] it’s also given me the time and opportunities to act within the AMA and learn about health systems and the importance of advocacy for both myself and my patients,” he added.

Patient care has become a priority for Docherty, and he is considering family medicine as his specialty. “During my family medicine rotation, I enjoyed sitting, talking, and getting to know my patients,” he said.

Aside from his busy schedule at school and on the committee, Docherty, who is a fully certified rescue SCUBA diver, makes sure to set aside time for himself. “So many students forget how to have fun and enjoy life while in medical school. But it is possible to do well and have a good time,” he said. “Just because we all have the image of medical students studying 24/7 doesn’t mean we have to meet that image. Mental/behavioral health is so important, and students, residents, and physicians make so many sacrifices. [You] don’t have to sacrifice everything. Have fun.”