PCOM South Georgia trains student doctors to assess patients' diets, lifestyles and
mental health in addition to symptoms. Photos were taken prior to March 2020.
Whole person approach—it’s a term that’s been said time and time again since the opening
of PCOM South Georgia in Moultrie.
PCOM South Georgia educates and trains students to become Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), fully licensed physicians who examine and treat patients, prescribe medication and
practice in a wide variety of specialties such as family medicine, emergency medicine,
pediatrics, radiology or surgery. The options are numerous, and that future is being
trained right here in South Georgia.
What is a whole person approach to medicine?
Words like whole person and hands-on are often used to describe osteopathic medicine, and it’s something that’s clear to see when a patient visits a DO for treatment.
Patients receive the same level of care as they would with any other physician, but
osteopathic physicians are trained to have an extra skill set. They fully see their
patients, meeting them with empathy and care. This kind of physician is especially
beneficial to rural areas as they are trained to focus on the whole person, which
means looking at the lifestyle, diet and mental health of their patients. In addition,
DOs are trained in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), which are techniques
that allow them to use their hands to diagnose injury and illness and encourage the
body's natural tendency toward good health. Using OMT, an osteopathic physician learns
to move a patient’s muscles and joints using techniques that include stretching, gentle
pressure and resistance—that’s the DO difference.
Kristie Petree, DO ‘13, osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) site director at PCOM South Georgia, practices
OMT as support for patients with problems from headaches to congestive heart failure.
“If a patient comes in with congestive heart failure, that means fluid has backed
up in the system,” Dr. Petree said. “The common treatment is diuretics, often referred
to as water pills. Osteopathic physicians can prescribe that, but in addition to medicine,
we help the body move the fluid on its own. For example, manually mobilizing the patient’s
lower extremities helps to circulate fluid better.”
To Dr. Petree, the whole person approach is simple: Don’t put systems in a box. The
systems of the body are all interrelated and affect one another. While a physician
may prescribe heart medicine to fix a heart problem, that medicine could negatively
affect the kidneys. Osteopathic physicians are trained to be doctors first and specialists
“When a patient presents with cellulitis, an infection in the leg, physicians often
prescribe antibiotics,” Dr. Petree said. “If the infection comes back, it is our job
to step back and find out why it’s coming back. It could be poor lymphatic drainage,
reduced blood supply, or a number of other things. We look at the whole body to find
out what is causing the issue.”
It’s this approach to patient care that is encouraging students to pursue an education
in osteopathic medicine. Over the past decade, the profession has experienced a 68
percent increase in the total number of osteopathic physicians, and there are more
than 1,000 licensed DOs within a 250-mile radius of PCOM South Georgia.
“We listen to our patients. We hear their story and work with the patient as a team
with the common goal of good health. Instead of focusing on symptoms, we search for
the cause of the illness by looking at the whole patient.”
And that is the whole person approach that’s being taught right here in South Georgia.
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) extended its commitment to the
Southeast by establishing PCOM South Georgia, an additional teaching location in Moultrie, Georgia. PCOM South Georgia offers both
a full, four-year medical program leading to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)
degree and a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree. PCOM is a private, not-for-profit
institution which trains professionals in the health and behavioral sciences fields.
Joining PCOM Georgia in Suwanee in helping to meet the healthcare needs of the state,
PCOM South Georgia focuses on educating physicians for the South Georgia region. The
medical campus, which welcomed its inaugural class of medical students in August 2019,
has received accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association's Commission
on Osteopathic College Accreditation. For more information, visit pcom.edu/southgeorgia or call 229-668-3110.
For more information, contact: Jordan Roberts Public Relations and Social Media Specialist Email: email@example.com Office:229-668-3198 | Cell:229-873-2003