DO pride

Reasons to be proud to be a DO on National Doctors’ Day 2021

The pioneers, frontline care providers, leaders and innovators within the profession represent countless reasons to be proud. Here are some of many.

In honor of National Doctors’ Day, which is observed annually on March 30, we’re celebrating everyone in the osteopathic family. Within this profession, there are fantastic physicians in every specialty as well as pioneers in racial and gender equality, frontline care providers, health care leaders and innovators.

Overall, these individuals and groups within the profession represent countless reasons to be proud to be a DO. Although there are many additional noteworthy members of the profession, on this day of recognition, here is a short overview of some of those who make us all #DOProud.

Leaders & service providers

J.D. Polk, DO (left), and Shannon Moynihan, MD, work the console during a space shuttle mission.

J.D. Polk, DO — NASA chief health and medical officer

Dr. Polk wears multiple hats at the space agency, where he is in charge of the health of all NASA employees—including its astronauts, who are monitored for their entire lives. Read more about his ongoing work and the agency’s planned mission to the moon and then to Mars.

Darrell Grace, DO — Founder of the NOMA Health Fair

At every OMED (besides 2020) since 2005, the National Osteopathic Medical Association, led by Dr. Grace, has arranged for a group of medical volunteers to coalesce at a local homeless shelter or mission to provide a day of free care and wellness exams. In this Q&A from March 2020, Dr. Grace explained how the health fair came to be and how DOs can get involved.

Dr. Sommer on active duty (on left)

Military service leaders

Ronald R. Blanck, DO — Lieutenant General (Retired), 39th Surgeon General of the United States Army, 1996-2000

Marco Coppola, DO — Commanding General, 2nd Brigade, Texas State Guard

Darren Sommer, DO, MBA, MPH — Lieutenant Colonel, Army reservist

Bob Suter, DO — Brigadier General, US Army Reserve

Kevin O’Connor, DO — White House physician

For the first time in history, two consecutive presidents have selected DOs to serve as their personal physician. Earlier this year, Dr. O’Connor became the current White House physician, though he has been President Joe Biden’s primary care physician since 2009.

Sean Conley, DO — Former White House physician

Dr. Conley was President Donald Trump’s physician from 2018 to early 2021.

Quidest Sheriff, DO — Left practicing medicine to help support physician mental health

Once it became clear that the pandemic would take a toll on the mental health of her colleagues, Dr. Sheriff quit her job in March 2020 to found an online community focused on providing mental health support to female physicians. Learn more about the development of her venture and the services it offers to physicians in need.


William G. Anderson, DO (center), welcomes the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., PhD (left), and the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy to his home. At the time, Dr. Anderson lived in Albany, Georgia.

African American DOs

Black osteopathic physicians have played a major role in pushing the profession forward and improving patient care. Read about 10 Black physicians and their contributions to the profession.

William G. Anderson, DO — Civil Rights pioneer

One of the physicians on the list above is Dr. Anderson. He was the first African American surgical resident in Detroit, the first African American president of the AOA, and a co-leader of the Albany Movement, the first mass movement in the civil rights era when protestors marched to end community segregation.

During Black History Month, he spoke to AOA staff about his life. Read more about his Civil Rights work and his upbringing.

Barbara Ross-Lee, DO

Barbara Ross-Lee, DO — First African American woman to serve as Dean for a U.S. Medical School

Dr. Ross-Lee, also currently the president-elect of the American Osteopathic Foundation, has blazed a trail in osteopathic medicine and became a role model to multiple generations of African American female physicians. Read her recent feature story in Mediaplanet’s Osteopathic Medicine campaign.

Latinx DOs

DOs have made many impacts in health care and also made significant strides toward increasing the number of Latinx physicians. Learn more about Latinx DO efforts to provide care to underserved areas and mentor underserved or minority students.

Women in medicine

Women have been involved in osteopathic medicine from the very beginning. Six women were in the inaugural class of the first osteopathic medical school, according to the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine, and women in osteopathic medicine have been making impacts ever since.

In February, The DO spoke with five influential female DOs on their advice for women who are training or aspiring to be physicians.

Karen J. Nichols, DO, former AOA president, addresses her colleagues as then-AOA President John W. Becher, DO, looks on in this 2015 photo. (Photo by Patrick Sinco)

Karen Nichols, DO — Trailblazing leader in the profession

Dr. Nichols was the first DO chair elected on the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) board of directors, and the first female president of the AOA in 2010-11. She also played a key role in the transition to a single GME accreditation system. Read more about her efforts and the significance of her selection by the ACGME.

Hala Sabry, DO, MBA — Founder of National Women Physicians Day

Every year on Feb. 3 since 2016, the medical profession has celebrated National Women Physicians Day (NWPD). Dr. Sabry, an emergency physician in the Seattle area, founded the holiday as a way to increase the visibility of female physicians and the issues they face.

Read this 2017 Q&A with Dr. Sabry on the challenges women face in medicine today and the importance of NWPD.

K. Kay Moody, DO, MPH — Physician wellness organizer and leader

Dr. Moody is an outspoken advocate for physician burnout awareness, the founder of emDocs, a virtual community of over 16,500 emergency physicians, and the creator and CEO of Glacier Rock Wellness Ranch, a wilderness community for physicians to share the joys and challenges of practicing medicine.

DOs who are making significant contributions during COVID-19

Larry Dean Smith, DO — Indian Health Service (IHS) director

As clinical director of the Colville Service Unit under the Portland Area IHS, Dr. Smith is responsible for the care of all members of the 12 tribes of the Colville Nation who live on a reservation in Washington state’s Okanogan County. An estimated 80% of his patients have risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness. Read about the steps he’s taken during the pandemic to keep his patients safe.

Lauri Hicks, DO — Director of the CDC’s Office of Antibiotic Stewardship

After assisting in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s responses to Ebola, H1N1 and other respiratory outbreaks, Dr. Hicks is now working on the agency’s COVID-19 response effort. Read The DO’s Q&A with her from last March.

Stan Grogg, DO — AOA liaison to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices

Since December 2020, Dr. Grogg has shared relevant, up-to-date information about COVID-19 vaccines and ACIP’s emergency meetings with the AOA. Read a write-up of Dr. Grogg’s notes from the most recent ACIP meeting on March 1. 

Julie Ledgerwood, DO — Chief medical officer and chief of the Clinical Trials Program at the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) of NIAID/NIH

Dr. Ledgerwood oversaw the initial trials of the Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC) clinic at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Read The DO’s story about her and her osteopathic colleagues at the NIH from 2013.

Cassandra Calabrese, DO, and her father Leonard Calabrese, DO

Leonard Calabrese, DO, and Cassandra Calabrese, DO — Father-daughter team, rheumatology physicians and researchers

Since COVID-19 started, the Drs. Calabrese have been working together to research the inflammatory phases of and immune responses to the virus. Read The DO’s Q&A with them from last October about their work categorizing symptoms for a new inflammatory syndrome in infected adults.

Residents & fellows

Alin Gragossian, DO, in the hospital post-transplant. (Alin Gragossian photo)

Alin Gragossian DO, MPH — Heart transplant recipient

In 2018 during her emergency medicine residency, Dr. Gragossian, now an ICU fellow, suddenly and unexpectedly learned she’d need a new heart at the age of 30. A month later, she got one. Read her inspiring story, in her words, here.

Carisa Champion, DO, JD, MPH — Surgical communications fellow on Grey’s Anatomy

In her role as a surgical communications fellow on the hit ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy, Carisa Champion, DO, JD, MPH, also a general surgery resident at the University of Florida College of Medicine, has consulted on the medical aspects of the show and also helped write scripts. The DO caught up with her last summer, when she spoke about her role in the (virtual) writer’s room and her involvement on Season 17 of the show.

Steve Martin, DO, on left, James Latronica, DO, on right.

Steve Martin, DO, and James Latronica, DO — Resident physicians who invented 3D-printable face masks

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Drs. Martin and Latronica saw calls for personal protective equipment across the world and came up with an innovative solution: 3D-printable face masks, specifically custom-fitted P100 respirator masks. Read about the prototypes and DIY guides they created.


Students volunteering at COVID-19 vaccination clinics

About 175 medical students from the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine campus in Tulsa (OSU-COM) and 54 medical students from the Tahlequah campus (OSU-COM Tahlequah) have been helping with the COVID-19 vaccination effort under physician faculty supervision. Several students wrote about their experiences, which you can read here.

Stephanie Egwuatu, OMS IV — Student who shares a passion for health equity with her DO sister

Having grown up hearing from their family members that “being able to go to a doctor was a privilege, [and that] access to health care was not a given,” Egwuatu and her sister Patricia Egwuatu, DO, entered osteopathic medical school on a mission to provide care to underserved areas. Read more about their pursuit of equity in health care in a feature story on

Nicholas Harriel, OMS III (Photo provided by Harriel)

Nicholas Harriel, OMS IV — Newly elected SOMA President

When COVID-19 hit the U.S., Harriel leaned into his commitment to the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) and the students he had connected with through the organization. Read more about how he first got involved with SOMA and how the organization has helped him maintain a sense of normalcy during the pandemic.

DOs who represent the profession in the media

Jeffrey Grove, DO, (left), Ken Davenport (center), and Michael Jackowitz, DO, (right) won the 2018 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.

Jeffrey Grove, DO, and Michael Jackowitz, DO — Tony Award-winning Broadway producers

Dr. Grove and Dr. Jackowitz won the 2018 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical for co-producing “Once on This Island.” Dr. Grove is also president of the American Osteopathic Foundation. Learn more about how he and Dr. Jackowitz became producers and what they look for in a show.

Kaleb Redden, DO — Finalist on The Titan Games

Dr. Redden, a sports medicine specialist in Idaho, spent three weeks in January 2020 taking part in The Titan Games, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s competitive strength show on NBC. The DO spoke with him last summer about his journey from college football to osteopathic medicine as well as his time on the show.

Mirtha Macri, DO — Featured on Netflix’s Lenox Hill

Dr. Macri is prominent on Netflix’s Lenox Hill, a documentary series that follows the professional (and often personal) lives of four New York physicians working in various areas of a major hospital. The DO spoke to her about the experience of seeing patients on camera last summer.

Mirtha Macri, DO (Photo provided by Dr. Macri)

Michael Sampson, DO — Ringside physician for All Elite Wrestling

Dr. Sampson previously held the same position with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) for five years before joining AEW, and played a major role in helping the company bring entertainment to the world safely during a pandemic. He spoke with The DO last winter about his career in sports medicine and what it’s like to provide ringside care.

Contributors to The DO

In 2020 alone, DOs and osteopathic medical students contributed over 20 stories to The DO, providing unique insights and frontline perspectives. Take a look at all of their work here, and stay tuned for more in 2021.

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