Letters to the Editor  |   September 2005
Teacher, Heal Thyself
Author Affiliations
  • Carl Hoegerl, DO
    Resident and Clinical Assistant Instructor of Neurology State University of New York at Stony Brook Stony Brook, NY
Article Information
Medical Education / Graduate Medical Education
Letters to the Editor   |   September 2005
Teacher, Heal Thyself
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, September 2005, Vol. 105, 426-427. doi:
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, September 2005, Vol. 105, 426-427. doi:
To the Editor:  
According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), the word doctor has its roots in the Latin words doctus and docere, which mean “teacher” and “to teach.” 
As physicians, we sometimes tend to forget our role as teachers. Each day, our patients, nurses, residents, medical students, and others ask us questions that require and deserve answers and explanations. 
We must remember that we are healers and educators. We have chosen a profession that depends on our ability to teach. Not only are we teaching people how to care for themselves and for others, as osteopathic physicians, we are also responsible for teaching osteopathic medical students and residents how to care for others in our shared tradition. 
It is critical that we develop the skills and experience necessary to become good teachers as soon as possible, and that we retain a lifelong commitment to improve upon our skills and experience throughout the course of our working lives. We must live up to the title the osteopathic profession has given us: doctor of osteopathy, which also means teacher of osteopathy. 
Those who aspire only “to get the day over and done,” or simply to see as many patients as possible, have perhaps forgotten what it is that they have set as their life's mission. 
Although some within the profession may have made a deliberate decision not to teach at a college or university, there is still an opportunity for clinicians to stretch their skills beyond diagnosis and treatment—to discussing disease processes and unusual cases with students or residents they may encounter, for example, or fully explaining the administration of medications and their potential adverse effects to patients. However, there is a Chinese proverb that says, “A teacher can but lead you to the door; learning is up to you.” Those who become good learners will become good teachers. Learn to become a good teacher, and teach to become a good learner—and start early. Bring the profession to a new level. 
I want to take a moment to encourage everyone—but especially osteopathic medical students, residents, and program directors—to take time out of their busy schedules to learn and to teach. The best way to teach is to set an example for others. Become that example, especially for those who will become the future of the profession. It is my hope that my fellow doctors of osteopathy will choose to recommit to our life's mission: becoming teachers of osteopathy. 
 As the premier scholarly publication of the osteopathic medical profession, JAOA—The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association encourages osteopathic physicians, faculty members and students at osteopathic medical colleges, and others within the healthcare professions to submit comments related to articles published in JAOA and the mission of the osteopathic medical profession. The JAOA's editors are particularly interested in letters that discuss recently published original research.
 Letters to the editor are considered for publication in JAOA with the understanding that they have not been published elsewhere and that they are not simultaneously under consideration by any other publication.
 All accepted letters to the editor are subject to copyediting. Letter writers may be asked to provide JAOA staff with photocopies of referenced material so that the references themselves and statements cited may be verified.
 Readers are encouraged to prepare letters electronically in Microsoft Word (.doc) or in plain (.txt) or rich text (.rtf) format. The JAOA prefers that letters be e-mailed to Mailed letters should also be sent electronically, in one of the aforementioned electronic formats on an IBM-compatible CD or a 3 ½-inch disk, and addressed to Gilbert E. D'Alonzo, Jr, DO, Editor in Chief, American Osteopathic Association, 142 E Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60611-2864.
 Letter writers must include their full professional titles and affiliations, complete preferred mailing addresses, day and evening telephone numbers, fax numbers, and preferred e-mail addresses. Authors are responsible for disclosing financial associations and other conflicts of interest.
 Although JAOA cannot acknowledge the receipt of letters, a JAOA staff member will notify writers whose letters have been accepted for publication. Mailed submissions and supporting materials will not be returned unless authors provide self-addressed, stamped envelopes with their submissions.
 All osteopathic physicians who have letters published in JAOA receive continuing medical education (CME) credit for their contributions. Writers of original letters receive 5 hours of AOA Category 1-B CME credit. Authors of published articles who respond to letters about their research receive 3 hours of Category 1-B CME credit for their responses.
 Although JAOA welcomes letters to the editor, readers should be aware that these contributions have a lower publication priority than other submissions. As a consequence, letters are published only when space allows.