By Nancy West
The annual observance of Founders’ Day honors the founders of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine: Oscar John Snyder, DO, and Mason Wiley Pressly, DO. The profiles of the honorees that follow provide examples of those who continue to embody the dedication, loyalty and service that the College’s founders exhibited.
Dr. Bullock might never have become an osteopathic physician if it weren’t for a bad cold. His wife convinced him to go to a new doctor in the neighborhood, the late John Covington, DO ’71, whom the community was raving about. “They said there was something special about him, so I went. He was recruiting minorities for PCOM at the time and he asked, ‘Did you ever think about going to medical school?’” recalls Dr. Bullock, who was then a high school biology teacher. “He gave me the phone number for Carol A. Fox, MM [retired associate vice president for enrollment management and alumni relations liaison]. I decided to call her for an appointment, and that got the ball rolling.”
Throughout his 27 years at PCOM, Dr. Bullock has emphasized the importance of community health. “You don’t just treat the patient,” says Dr. Bullock, chair of the department of community medicine. “You must also take care of the community the patient comes from.” That mantra is at the heart of his practice and teaching.
Dr. Bullock began practicing medicine in the Philadelphia community where he grew up, first setting up shop in the church where his parents were married after it was converted to a healthcare center by the National Health Service Corps. He soon realized that many patients did not understand or listen to what the doctor was saying. “Many of them would bring in a whole bag of medicine and dump it out, not understanding what a single pill was for or how you were to take them,” he recalls. “It was obvious that we needed to educate the community, so we started doing health fairs on a regular basis.”
When he joined the PCOM faculty in 1988, Dr. Bullock advocated for the importance of community health, and the College supported his efforts in a number of ways. “We decided to start with the kids because many have a fear of a physician’s office,” Dr. Bullock explains. Working with the assistant director of The Muppet Show and The Nick Swindlin Puppet Theater, Dr. Bullock and the PCOM staff developed a program to allay children’s fears and increase their understanding of medical instruments by featuring puppet characters on an imaginary trip to a physician’s office. PCOM staff took the puppet show to elementary schools throughout the Philadelphia School District. The show was in such constant demand that a video and companion coloring book were produced and are still used today by PCOM student groups providing community education.
Dr. Bullock’s dedication to community health also inspired the College’s Boards of Trustees to build brand new facilities for all PCOM Healthcare Centers in Philadelphia. “The boards recognized that we were doing good work, and they wanted our facilities to reflect that,” he says.
Dr. Bullock takes pride in his service on the Pew Foundation Health Commission, which was well ahead of its time in predicting today’s healthcare trends, and as chair of the Pennsylvania State Board of Osteopathic Medicine from 2000 to 2003. Among many PCOM accolades, he was the recipient of the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Award, and served as vice chairman of the PCOM Diversity Council.
Reflecting on his many years of teaching, Dr. Bullock says, “I want our students to learn that no matter what specialty they choose, the most successful doctors are the ones who can communicate the best with their patients and possess that essential combination of caring and competence.”
Dr. Dieterle remembers visiting his family physician’s office as if it were yesterday. “Dr. Robert A. Hibbs was a classic of his day,” he recalls. “He worked alone in his office, the library of a stately old home with stained woodwork, a fireplace and beautiful paintings. He had no nurse or receptionist. If you needed care, you just showed up during office hours. As a child, I had a ‘doctor bag,’ and he would give me old stethoscopes, empty vitamin bottles, head mirrors, and tongue blades to fill it.”
As Dr. Dieterle’s interest in becoming a physician grew, Dr. Hibbs became his mentor. Then suddenly, when Dr. Dieterle was a junior in high school, Dr. Hibbs died. “I was floundering without a compass,” Dr. Dieterle says about that time.
After Dr. Hibbs’ passing, Dr. Dieterle and his family turned to “two young, enthusiastic osteopathic physicians for care—Stuart Baer, DO ’63, and John C. Crawford, DO ’56.” Over time, they became Dr. Dieterle’s new mentors, each writing him a letter of recommendation to Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Dr. Dieterle soon discovered a passion for pediatrics. “I really enjoyed caring for children and watching them grow, interacting with parents and observing all the joys and pleasures,” he notes. After graduating from PCOM and completing an internship at Flint (Michigan) Osteopathic Hospital, he became the first osteopathic resident at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, where he was also named chief resident during his last year.
With encouragement from the late Thomas M. Rowland, Jr., former PCOM president, Dr. Dieterle decided to join the faculty at PCOM. He ultimately became chairman and professor of the Department of Pediatrics—a department that he strengthened and to which multiple subspecialties were added. Dr. Dieterle also started a program that trained 26 pediatric residents.
“The students, interns and residents were so stimulating,” recalls Dr. Dieterle. “They were my mentors. They asked the questions, and I had to be ready for them. They made me learn. I read a lot to stay on top of things.”
During his tenure at PCOM, Dr. Dieterle also served as vice president of medical affairs and dean, as well as director of medical education. He initiated the College’s DO/MBA dual degree program as well as the Minority Student Scholarship Fund.
In 1989, he realized a lifelong dream: practicing in the community where he lived. He took over a private practice in Somers Point, New Jersey, with Dr. Mark Jacobson that grew to include three locations and nine osteopathic physicians; five were PCOM alumni. “It was great fun,” he recalls. “I enjoyed bumping into patients wherever I went.” A number of PCOM students fulfilled rotations within the practice under Dr. Dieterle’s mentorship.
Now retired from pediatric practice, Dr. Dieterle is an emeritus professor and has served on the College’s Boards of Trustees since 2003.
Reflecting on his career, he takes pride in serving as the only osteopathic president of the Philadelphia Pediatrics Society, as well as serving on the Governor’s Task Force for Perinatal Health and the Childbirth Education Association. Among his many recognitions, in 2003, Dr. Dieterle was inducted into the La Salle University Hall of Athletes for his swimming records as a National Collegiate Athletic Association All-American. In 1982, he received the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching. He was the 2012 recipient of Shore Medical Center’s Chairman’s Award.
A distinguished fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Dieterle was the first pediatric resident in the United States to take both the osteopathic and allopathic boards. “I always hoped that these achievements would bring well-deserved recognition to PCOM,” he says. “I had the best of both worlds during my career—teaching at an outstanding medical school and taking care of children.”
Ms. Moore describes herself as an optimist. “Everyone has within them the possibility not only to survive but to thrive,” she says. “I always try to help people be the best they can be and, at the same time, I try to be the best person I can be.”
Throughout her years at PCOM, Ms. Moore has demonstrated that philosophy in countless ways. She has served in numerous leadership positions and volunteered hundreds of hours to community service projects. Among her many achievements, she takes great pride in serving as chair of her class. “You are elected to this position by your classmates during the first six weeks of class,” she says. “For my classmates to have enough confidence in my ability and to trust me with that position after such a short time was humbling.”
She is also proud of her involvement with the Philadelphia Black Women’s Health Alliance, a program that implements health initiatives, distributes community resources and provides patient advocacy for women and children throughout the metropolitan Philadelphia area. “This program recognizes that women are often the nucleus of the family. We focus on helping them maintain healthy habits and positive decision making with the hope that this will radiate a positive impact on the rest of the family,” she explains.
Ms. Moore also coordinated the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event for Women Against Abuse. “We recruited male PCOM students to walk in high heels on City and Monument Avenues to raise awareness about women and children who are victims of domestic violence and abusive situations,” she says. “I saw this as an opportunity to take a stand that, as physicians, we are responsible for making sure our patients are in a safe environment.”
She is most humbled by her selection as the recipient of the 2015 Mason W. Pressly Memorial Award. “My peers and faculty members who have worked with me know my strengths and weaknesses. With all that knowledge, they still found me a worthy candidate to represent PCOM on such a high level. This is truly an honor,” she states.
Ms. Moore looks forward to a residency and career in pediatrics, noting that she told her mother she wanted to be a “baby medical doctor” when she was just three years old. “I’m very excited about using the osteopathic philosophy with our littlest, most vulnerable population,” says Ms. Moore.
“I strongly believe that the ideals and principles of osteopathic medicine are essential to who we are and how we practice as physicians,” she emphasizes. “I challenge my colleagues and commit my personal efforts to moving forward the foundational ideals of osteopathic medicine, being proud of my osteopathic identity, striving to continue laying a firm groundwork of support for rising osteopathic students and always trusting my hands’ ability to facilitate patient healing.”
Ms. Smith’s journey to become an osteopathic physician began in an unlikely way: with the study of anthropology. Although she began her undergraduate studies as a biology major, she was drawn to anthropology in her sophomore year. After switching majors, she made several trips to conduct research in Belize, where her passion for underserved communities was ignited.
“I spent a summer working as an intern with the Ministry of Health in Belize amidst one of the most severe outbreaks of dengue fever that country has ever experienced,” she says. “I also volunteered regularly at a local rural hospital; therefore, I was able to see how this outbreak was addressed from both public health and clinical standpoints. I realized there was a severe lack of communication between the public health and clinical sectors of the government, and worked with both parties to make the prevention and treatment plan for dengue fever more feasible and effective.”
Ms. Smith returned to Belize a few months later to conduct her own anthropological-based study, during which she interviewed the community to understand their cultural conceptions of dengue fever. “My research provided key data for improving future prevention and control strategies, and highlighted the importance of community integration and education in public health interventions,” she explains. “For me, this was more than just a ‘third world’ aid experience. I became passionate about educating the community in order to make them healthier and safer. Seeing the impact that medicine can have on a community inspired me to pursue medicine as a career.”
After learning about osteopathic medicine, she instantly saw it as “a natural fit for me. Anthropology looks at ‘the whole’ of what it means to be human,” she says. “It examines the physical, social and cultural aspects of humanity. My belief in this system of thought strongly coincides with the holistic approach to health care offered by osteopathic medicine, as wellness encompasses the physical, mental and spiritual realms of a person.”
Her passion for osteopathic medicine and teaching led to an osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) teaching fellowship at Georgia Campus – Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. “Going into OMM during my first year of medical school, I loved working with my hands, and the practice really made sense to me. I love OMM, and I think it serves a place in every aspect of medicine.”
Ms. Smith plans to pursue a residency and career in general surgery and also plans to continue teaching OMM as a preceptor for other medical students and by giving lectures. “I see a strong need for OMM to be incorporated into the field of surgery,” she emphasizes. “In terms of pre-op and post-op care, I think it could really improve outcomes.”