Family medicine physician takes lead at American Osteopathic Association

Ernest R. Gelb, DO, practiced in rural Pennsylvania, South Carolina.

A seasoned family medicine physician has taken the helm of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

In July 2022, Ernest R. Gelb, DO, FACOFP, was installed as AOA’s 126th president. He is an AOA board-certified family medicine specialist and geriatrician from Lewes, Delaware.

Gelb’s installation comes as the AOA represents a growing sector in American health care. This month, AOA’s annual “Osteopathic Medical Profession Report” tallied 141,759 osteopathic physicians in the United States – triple the number in 2000 and now more than 11% of physicians in the country. They will be joined by 36,500 osteopathic medical students, a group Gelb said are younger, more diverse and incredibly bright.

“It’s all about the philosophy of osteopathic medicine,” Gelb said about the growth of the field. “Body, mind, and spirit is wrapped into one holistic package. And frankly when I was a young man and was applying to school, I had the opportunity to become an osteopathic physician or an allopathic physician, or an MD, given the philosophy, given the thought processes, given the fact that the majority of DOs that graduate go into primary care, I was just taken aback by how wonderful the philosophy was and it was what I really, truly wanted to be.”

Gelb received his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) and completed postgraduate training at Beaumont Hospital, formerly Botsford Hospital, in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and served in the military as a member of the U.S. Public Health Service.

Gelb spent nearly 40 years caring for patients in rural Pennsylvania, where he is past president of the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association (POMA) and assistant professor of family medicine at PCOM. He received the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Family Physicians Society Family Physician of the Year and the POMA Distinguished Service Award.

He also cared for patients in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and spent several years as a faculty member of Tidelands Health MUSC Family Medicine Residency Program.

Gelb shared some of his ideas about his role and current issues in medicine in a series of online videos published by Medical Economics.