Hear from Dr. Aiello as he talks about his career as an osteopathic physician. You can follow along Dr. Aiello’s Twitter feed in the sidebar and find him at his practice in San Diego www.drjosephaiello.com.
What do you do for a living?
I am an Osteopathic Physician. I specialize in General Practice and Integrative Medicine. Integrative Medicine integrates traditional and natural medicine. It offers the best of both worlds.
As an Osteopathic Physician, I was trained to consider the patient as a whole. I think of them physically, mentally, and spiritually when I consider diagnosis and treatment. Osteopathic physicians are physicians that do all the specialties of medicine and have more training in musculoskeletal medicine. So I do general medicine and can prescribe any medicine and offer musculoskeletal manipulation or adjustments when needed for pain. It is another arrow in my quiver when patients have pain, such as headaches, neck or lower back pain.
How would you describe what you do?
I have been in General Practice for 20 years. During that time, I started as a traditional physician. The nice thing about being in general practice is you can learn to concentrate on any area you would like. In 2000, I added acupuncture to my practice. This taught me a lot about alternative therapies. Since 2000, I educated myself and introduced into my practice other alternative therapies. I offer patients Regenerative Medicine, Hormone Balancing, Weight loss, and nutritional support. I integrate traditional and natural medicine.
I have improved the care of my patients and have started to see them improving instead of just maintaining.
Again, as a physician, there is a lot of information and education that you can pursue to enhance your patient care and add excitement to your practice.
What does your work entail?
My work entails interviewing patients, diagnosing, and making recommendations for treatment. In the interview process, I perform a history and physical in which I find out the history to their complaints and then physically examine them for clues. It is investigative work for medical complaints.
What’s a typical work week like?
I work 8:30 to 4:30 in my office and see 30-35 patients per day. A general practice has a great variety of patient visits. For example, In a typical day, I will see patients for diabetes, hypertension, depression, hormone issues, neck and back pain and other joint pain.
How did you get started?
I joined a group of 3 doctors looking to add a partner.
What do you like about what you do?
Helping patients to heal themselves through natural and traditional therapies. Interviewing patients and getting to know them well. Then seeing the results of my recommendations and the satisfaction when they improve the patient in many different ways.
What do you dislike?
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
Patients pay me cash and we collect from insurance companies.
How much money do you make as an Osteopathic Physician?
General Practice doctors generally make $150,000/year and more.
Starting salaries are around $10,000/month.
How much money do/did you make starting out as an Osteopathic Physician?
I made $7000/month.
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to become an Osteopathic Physician?
A 4 year undergraduate degree. 4 years of medical school. Then I did 3 years of General Practice training.
The most important skill is to be able to listen and stay focused on the patient. They will offer many clues to the issue while they are talking.
A strong desire to help people.
The ability to be compassionate and allow people to do for themselves what they feel is best for them at the time with you helping them make an educated decision. You can’t be a demagogue. Everybody has their own paths and this needs to be honored.
What is most challenging about what you do?
Daily listening to patients problems and staying focused.
What is most rewarding?
Seeing the fruits of the treatments when patients return for follow-up feeling better.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Be certain you want to do it. It is a long haul before you are out making money and you will probably spend a lot on school. Your friends will be out of school having a great time and making money long before you. But the ability to interact with patients and help someone change their lives for the better can not be beat. There is nothing like it.
How much time off do you get/take?
I take about 4-6 weeks a year.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
One misperception is patients are unaware that Osteopathic Physicians can do musculoskeletal manipulations and adjustments for neck and back pain and don’t need to give as much medication for the pain.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
Improve the Integrative Health environment for patients. I believe they get the best care when body, mind and spirit are considered in their health.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
It is very exciting.