Leader focus

Advocacy, CME top priorities for new Illinois Osteopathic Medical Society president

Melanie Jessen, DO, practices and directs a dually accredited family medicine residency program in Oak Park, Illinois.

New Illinois Osteopathic Medical Society (IOMS) President Melanie Jessen, DO has a background in music and dance and found her way to medicine by an unconventional route. In practice for more than 20 years, her reach throughout the local osteopathic community has been broad and lasting. With passion for the profession and plans to invigorate emerging physicians through an introduction to advocacy, Dr. Jessen spoke about her life and philosophy in an interview with IOMS.org.

Why did you decide to practice medicine?

I got into medicine in a fairly roundabout way. My background is in music. I majored in music with a minor in dance. Later, when I was teaching music and accompanying dance, I got more interested in people’s injuries and social histories. So I thought I’d go back to school to study music and dance therapy. And then I got into osteopathic medicine!

Melanie Jessen, DO

Why did you choose a career in osteopathic medicine?

I think it was osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). I really wanted to learn OMT. I thought it was wonderful and I thought my schooling was excellent. I really enjoyed medical school. I went to school when I was a little older so I really appreciated the opportunity to study medicine.

What would you like our readers to know about your current practice?

I am the director of osteopathic medical education, the osteopathic program director and the conference director for our dually accredited family medicine residency at West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, Illinois. I divide my time between patient care and teaching. I teach OMT at Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in Downers Grove, Illinois, and I am the medical director for Oak Leyden Developmental Services for patients with developmental disabilities.

Illinois Osteopathic Medical Society President Melanie Jessen, DO, (left) meets with IOMS Past President Alicia Martin, DO, at the AOA House of Delegates meeting in July 2016. (Photo by Andrew Peck)

What are your goals for IOMS for the next year and beyond?

We’re thinking of increasing the amount of continuing medical education credits we can offer through a longer annual meeting or an extra spring or summer meeting. The second thing is to build our Advocacy Day, which we already have, but I want to get a bus for the medical students so we can educate them about advocacy.

Is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you feel is important for readers to know?

I love being in osteopathic medicine. It is such a wonderful and rewarding career. I am certified in yoga and teach a community class once a month at the hospital for different health conditions such as low back pain, depression and digestion. I truly believe everyone should do some kind of movement practice or exercise. It is so therapeutic on so many levels. I practice yoga daily and dance with the Intuit Dance Company in Oak Park.

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