Trusting your gut

Writing a new chapter: DO gastroenterologist combines podcasts and private practice

Ian Storch, DO, runs DO or Do Not, a popular podcast on the osteopathic journey that also serves as a unique mentoring tool for osteopathic medical students.


“How do you combine an English major and a GI doctor? Use a semicolon.” All the comedian heard was the sound of stomach gurgling in the crowd.

This month’s DO to Know is just that: an English major who became a gastroenterologist. Ian Storch, DO’s, story started at Binghamton University with an English degree, followed by a plot twist and a climatic ending at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM).

Now a successful gastroenterologist, Dr. Storch also mentors premeds, medical students, residents and anyone who is interested. He is keen on helping the next generation of osteopathic medical students by keeping them engaged with the profession through his podcast “DO or Do Not,” which is centered on the DO journey. Students help Dr. Storch create the podcast, and they also assist him with the podcast’s daily operations.

In this edited Q&A, we hear the tale of Dr. Storch’s hero’s journey.

Share your background and your path to becoming an osteopathic physician with us.

Ian Storch, DO

I grew up on Long Island with working-class parents. Neither of them graduated from college, so I didn’t have that much guidance. I went to the State University of New York (SUNY) with aspirations of becoming an English professor. It sounds cliché, but after seeing an accident with a friend who is an EMT, I became interested in the medical field.

Ultimately, I decided I wanted to attend medical school. My roommate gave me his Barron’s Guide to Medical & Dental Schools. I read up on all the schools; however, I was intrigued by the part of the book that talked about osteopathic medical schools. When I went home for break, I had a physical with my family doctor and showed him the book. I asked him if he had ever heard of osteopathic medicine, and he told me he was a DO. I had always looked up to him and felt that was fate. I applied to an osteopathic medical school and never looked back.

You attended residency in internal medicine and then further specialized in gastroenterology. How did you choose those?

I think it all comes down to mentorship. I went to NYITCOM and rotated in an allopathic hospital called the North Shore University Hospital. My first rotation was in internal medicine, and I worked with an osteopathic resident named Charlie Livoti, DO. He was confident, intelligent and caring. I subsequently met an MD gastroenterologist who took time to teach me both medicine as well as how to treat patients with compassion and respect.

I ultimately did an internal medicine residency at Northwell Hospital on Long Island, served as chief medical resident for a year and then pursued a GI fellowship at the University of Miami. I still appreciate all of my teachers along the way.

Let’s talk about DO or Do Not, the podcast you founded. How did it get started and how did it come together?

The DO or Do Not podcast logo features a nod to the Star Wars movie franchise.

I’ve been blessed with an amazing career today. I have an amazing private practice. In 2020, I was sitting on my porch wondering if there was anything that I was missing. I decided that the only thing I could think of was that I hadn’t contributed to the osteopathic family that gave me my start in medicine.

I’m a very proud DO. I thought of all my friends in medicine. Although many are MDs, some of my most successful physician colleagues are DOs. I thought that if a student was thinking about osteopathic school, how would they make a decision? What if they didn’t have the mentors that I had?

It was at that time that Tianyu She, DO, who was in medical school at the time, came to my office looking for a project. He wanted to be a gastroenterologist. I told him we could do a silly research project, or we could create a podcast which would have the potential to have a significant impact on premeds, medical students, residents and physicians.

I proposed a podcast called DO or Do Not, where we would interview osteopathic physicians so people could learn about the physician’s journey. We are now in the fifth year of the podcast. Each year, I have 20 or so medical students who help me with the podcast. I don’t think we will ever run out of amazing osteopathic physicians to interview. My plans for the future are to make another 120 episodes … and continue from there.

What makes the DO or Do Not podcast so special?

Sometimes, it’s hard to explain osteopathic medicine to people, whether they are medical students, physicians or laypeople. Who we are as osteopathic physicians goes beyond philosophy and osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). You have to just talk to a few amazing DOs to know they are different and special. It is palpable—no pun intended! When you listen to the great DOs we interview on the podcast, it quickly becomes apparent that you are in the presence of greatness.

We have interviewed DO legends such as AOA Past President Karen Nichols, DO, AOA Past President William G. Anderson, DO, and Barbara Ross-Lee, DO. If you don’t know them, you should!

Some of my other favorite episodes include our interviews of Noshir Amaria, DO, a family physician and sports medicine team physician for the Michigan Wolverines football team; John Thurman Jr., DO, an inspiring young man who suffered a serious injury and later remade himself as an osteopathic physician; and David Elkowitz, DO, a pathologist whom I met during my first year as an osteopathic medical student. He inspired me to be the best physician I could be. He is now an associate dean at an MD medical school, and all of his students know exactly why DOs are special.

As you mentioned, you have your own private practice, Gastroenterology Consultants of Long Island. The current trends show younger physicians avoiding private practice ownership. What advice would you give to younger physicians on pursuing private practice?

It depends on what a physician wants out of life and their career. Certainly work-life balance is important. Working for a health care system removes the burdens of running a business. It allows doctors in some ways to focus more on medicine.

However, in my opinion, being employed comes with a cost. There’s a loss of autonomy. Physicians have to comply with the health system’s structure, which affects how they can treat their patients.

For me, I like the business aspect of running a practice. It’s certainly not for everyone. I also like the ability to treat patients the way I think they should be treated. If a patient calls and is sick, we will always make time for them. If a patient needs an urgent procedure and there’s no appointment for them, we’ll figure out a time and make one for them. Institutions don’t always allow you to do this, and it can negatively impact patient care.

For osteopathic students interested in GI fellowship, what board licensures are required, and what is the typical day-to-day schedule for a board-certified gastroenterology physician?

GI fellowship is amazing. I highly recommend the specialty. It takes a lot of work and dedication. It’s very competitive. A student interested in GI needs to understand the commitment that’s needed. It takes at least three years of internal medicine residency, followed by three years of gastroenterology fellowship, and many GI doctors do an advanced year. Board certifications in internal medicine and gastroenterology are required.

I don’t know if there is a “typical” day for a GI doctor, but my day usually is comprised of rounding in the hospital, seeing patients in the office and doing procedures such as endoscopies and colonoscopies. The best thing about gastroenterology is you get to combine patient interaction with really great procedures. In the end, you really help patients. For example, screening for colon cancer is so important that the recommended age for the first colonoscopy was recently decreased from 50 to 45.

What is next for Ian Storch, DO?

What’s next for Noah Storch, my son? He’s in high school and wants to be a physician without any pressure from me. I’m very proud of him and hope that he chooses osteopathic medical school.

Oh, that’s not what you asked. I always like having a project. I have no idea what my next project will be. I do, however, intend on doing the podcast for as long as people want to listen. For those of you reading this, we are always looking for excited students to help with the team, proud DOs to interview and listeners who want to hear stories of the osteopathic physician’s journey.

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the subject’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The DO or the AOA.

Related reading:

A winning pair: This brother DO duo went from wrestling to wellness

DO podcast host discusses coming out as trans in med school and LGBTQ+ health care

Leave a comment Please see our comment policy