Carol L. Henwood, DO ’83, RES ’85, FACOFP dist., a board-certified family practice physician who has worked in the Philadelphia suburbs for more than three decades, has forged such long-lasting relationships with her patients that she’s cared for five generations of some families.
Her current caseload includes a 2-month-old infant and a centenarian who turned 103.
Dr. Henwood, the recipient of PCOM’s 2021 O. J. Snyder Memorial Medal, has had three employers over those years, at practices within a 10-mile radius. She now works for Main Line Health Family Medicine in Royersford, providing a wide variety of health services—from chronic care to well visits and women’s health.
“It’s an honor and joy to take care of all these families,” she says. “You build relationships with people, they trust what you have to say, they trust you with their lives. I feel like I make a difference.”
Daily, Dr. Henwood holds true to the philosophy of Andrew Taylor Still, DO, the founder of osteopathic medicine. “Physicians need to know the latest science, the latest guidelines and novel treatments,” she says. “But they need to pair that methodical knowledge with responsive empathy for patients who suffer over a clinical diagnosis or loss. And then there’s osteopathic manual manipulation; physicians can be profoundly empowered with healing hands.”
During this time of global pandemic, Dr. Henwood acknowledges that many patients have become afraid, isolated and depressed. “I strive to give them solace and hope,” she affirms. “You can say your cup is half-empty or half-full. I feel blessed that I have a cup. I urge my patients, too, to find their cup.”
A stalwart of the osteopathic profession, Dr. Henwood is a distinguished fellow and past president of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians and past president and an advisor for the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Family Physicians Society. She also served as the first female president of the PCOM Alumni Association; Dr. Henwood and her family have been longtime philanthropists and volunteers on behalf of the College. She holds membership positions within the American Osteopathic Association and the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association. Dr. Henwood is a recognized expert on the patient-centered medical home concept, and in 2012 was invited to address the White House on the Affordable Care Act and patient engagement. And she is an avid contributor to the medical literature.
Dr. Henwood’s leadership in the field was inspired by the late Michael F. Avallone, Sr., DO ’59, a prominent primary care physician and a role model for the osteopathic profession, who urged her to make a difference on the local and national stage as well as with medical students and residents whom she teaches and mentors.
“We have some of the best and brightest in the profession, but if the profession is not changing to meet the challenges of new ideas, it’s not going to succeed,” she says. “I think it’s important to give back.”
The consequences from the merger of allopathic and osteopathic residency programs have engaged Dr. Henwood in recent years as she helps address the financial hurdles confronting newly minted DOs seeking board certification in family practice.
Some hospital systems will only pay for one board test, and some have determined that they will only pay for their residents to take the American Board of Medical Specialists exam. That decision leaves osteopathic family medicine residency graduates with an added financial burden if they want to seek osteopathic board certification.
“We see this as a barrier and a threat to our profession,” Dr. Henwood explains.
Enter the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, where Dr. Henwood has chaired a $2 million campaign through its foundation to provide grants to residents who want to take the osteopathic family medicine certification boards. The foundation, which has raised $1.2 million so far, gave out 101 grants in 2020 to support these residents. The grants, of up to $1,500, cover the practical and written portions of the test, as well as travel to the test site.
“It’s a way to preserve our profession,” says Dr. Henwood. “It’s one thing we can do to have a direct impact on the future. The American public deserves to have DOs as their family doctors—among other specialists.”
Digest, the magazine for alumni and friends of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, is published by the Office of Marketing and Communications. The magazine reports on osteopathic and other professional trends of interest to alumni of the College’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and graduate programs at PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia.