Kathleen E. Ackert (DO ’20) Awarded Mason Pressly Memorial MedalJanuary 21, 2020
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has announced Kathleen E. Ackert (DO ’20) as the recipient of the Mason Pressly Memorial
Medal. The award is presented to a student for his or her outstanding achievement
and service to the College, the community and the osteopathic profession. Recipients
are selected by representatives of the overall College community. Ms. Ackert will
receive her medal at PCOM’s Founders’ Day Awards Ceremony on Friday, January 24.
Ms. Ackert has made storytelling part of her medical education, and plans to make
it part of her medical practice when she starts her career as an obstetrician/gynecologist.
She embraces an approach called “narrative medicine,” which uses stories about clinical
practice, research and patients experiences as a way to promote healing. She got her
start while a first-year medical student in Philadelphia at a live event sponsored
by The Moth Radio Hour, a public radio show that features stories of personal experiences.
At The Moth’s New York City Grand Slam in Brooklyn in September 2019, she told the
story of her last day on her ob/gyn rotation, when she performed her first solo vaginal
delivery. She talked about her fears, the possible complications of delivering a premature
baby, and details of childbirth in the delivery room. Then you heard her clear, serene
voice as she took charge, and welcomed the child into the world. It was an audible
threshold crossing from student to doctor: “Yes, I can do this!”
Ms. Ackert has performed her unscripted medical stories a dozen times, including the
tale about her first Code Green during her rotation in psychiatry that won the December
2018 Story Slam event in Manhattan. A story about her experience in the gross anatomy
lab with the cadaver whom she called "The Professor" appeared in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. A story about physician handwriting was published in February by the Philadelphia Inquirer, alongside a picture of Ms. Ackert with her father, an anesthesiologist whose penmanship
can be tough to decipher.
“Storytelling is so integral to medicine,” says Ms. Ackert, whose art earned her the
post of president of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. “We are always piecing together
a narrative, and each illness can have several chapters.”
A native of Long Island, she, found that writing was a way to document the mind-opening
experiences during her medical school studies, especially in the beginning. Further
engaging empathy—from writing to practice—Ms. Ackert, a regarded student leader, created
Teaching Introductory Study Skills Utilizing Experience (TISSUE), a two-week medical
school acclimation program at PCOM, aiming to level the playing field, to give first-year
students a familiarity with anatomical concepts and applications. At the same time,
the program lessens anxiety, creates camaraderie and offers practical guidance on
the basic essentials of transiting into medical school. The innovative program gained
her a grant from the American Osteopathic Association, the Most Promising Medical
Student award from the Philadelphia Business Journal and the attention of an anonymous donor who continues to fund the course at the College.
Ms. Ackert will receive her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from PCOM in the spring. She received her undergraduate degree from Siena
College in Albany, New York in 2016.
You May Also Like:
About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands
of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists
who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms.
PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic
medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in
applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic
medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, non profit leadership
and population health management, organizational development and leadership, physician
assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration.
PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service
to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care
to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.
For more information, contact:
Associate Director, News and Media Relations
Office: 215-871-6304 | Cell:
Connect with PCOM