New AOA President Ernest R. Gelb, DO, is designing a blueprint for renewal

The three “Hs”—honor, humanity and humor—will be key components of Dr. Gelb’s leadership plan for the coming year.


More than 1,000 osteopathic physicians, medical students and guests gathered in Chicago last week for the annual meeting of the AOA House of Delegates, during which Ernest R. Gelb, DO, of Lewes, Delaware, was installed as the organization’s 126th president. During his inaugural address, Dr. Gelb recounted experiences from his 40-year career as an osteopathic family physician and outlined a plan for renewal within the profession by focusing on what he called the “Three Hs:” honor, humanity and humor.

Honoring the profession

One of the most impactful ways for DOs and osteopathic medical students to honor their profession, Dr. Gelb said, is by incorporating osteopathic principles and practice into patient care, regardless of medical specialty. “I am honored to be a DO,” he said. “We honor our profession by listening to understand, showing compassion, and treating our patients. To us, body, mind and spirit are one.”

Other ways to honor the profession include combatting inappropriate scope of practice expansions and confronting misinformation and inaccuracies about osteopathic medicine in the media.

“We will continue to aggressively defend our scope of practice and our osteopathic distinctiveness from board rooms to operating rooms, and from hallways of the federal government to state capitols,” Dr. Gelb said.

AOA President Ernest Gelb, DO, gives his inaugural speech at the AOA House of Delegates.

Committing to proudly stand with all members of the profession to collaborate for the betterment of patients, Dr. Gelb noted there’s room for ALL DOs at the table, including those certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Dr. Gelb extended an invitation for these DOs to “come home” to the osteopathic profession by obtaining reciprocal AOA board certification, through which ABMS-certified DOs can enjoy the benefits of AOA board certification without high-stakes initial certification exams or burdensome fees.

Keeping faith in humanity

When speaking of the second “H” in his renewal blueprint, humanity, Dr. Gelb acknowledged that the turmoil of the global pandemic has taken a great toll on physicians across all facets of medicine, adding that at some point, “life-balance became a question rather than an action.” He encouraged all osteopathic physicians and medical students to take care of themselves and recharge.

“Caring for patients is your top concern,” Dr. Gelb said. “Caring for you is my top concern.”

Dr. Gelb went on to say, “We must allow ourselves the grace to regain our humanity. We will become better healers and counselors as a result.”

Finding the humor

The third “H” will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Dr. Gelb, who is widely noted for his love of humor. Known for being quick with a joke, Dr. Gelb discussed the benefits of humor for physicians and medical students faced with stressful or difficult challenges.

“What is life if we cannot smile or laugh?” he asked the audience. “We have been under stress far too long and we must remember that laughter can sometimes be the best medicine.”

He brought it back to patient care, saying, “Our patients need our smile and compassion, and we need to share our smile and compassion with each other.”


  1. Dennis Agostini

    Congratulations Ernie. As a former PCOM classmate of yours I can say it was always a pleasure working with you during our four years at PCOM. You were always a straight shooter and and, yes even then possessed your great sense of humor. We also were grateful for your support during the early years of the other Osteopathic School in PA, LECOM. I am proud to say that my son, Anthony, is a DO interventional cardiologist and his daughter, Sophia, is in the process of applying to medical school and, hopefully will be a third generation DO.
    Keep up the good fight.

    1. Ernie

      Hi Dennis, it’s been a long time. (I think that you were at Campbell). Thanks so much for the kind words. I hope all is well and that you’re healthy. Glad to hear that family will continue the journey. Best wishes to all.

  2. Steven Kamajian

    Congrats Ernie!
    I too remember day one at PCOM with you. You always have been a wise-gentle-healing presence. This regal profession has given us all so much. I wish you health and joy as you take on this new adventure. If I can be of any help, please ask. It is our time to spend our political capital.

    1. Ernie Gelb, DO

      Hi Steven…it’s been a few years to many. I hope that you and yours are well. We usually run into each other at the House, but not this year. Thank you for sharing our journey in the great profession. Please continue your fine work to honor our profession. Again, thanks for your kindness.


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