Learn about Aerial Petty, D.O., a rising star in the next generation of primary care physicians.
Hometown: Tampa, Florida
Specialty: Family medicine
Residency: Third-year resident and chief resident at NewYork-Presbyterian — Columbia University
Medical School: Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine
Master’s Degree: M.S. Medical sciences, University of South Florida
Undergraduate: B.S. Spanish, University of Florida
Awards and distinctions: National Medical Fellowships Scholar; Young Leadership Council Member; NMF Health Equity Ambassador
Career goals: “I’m interested in pursuing a career that allows me to combine minority health policy, advocacy, medical education, health equity, and high-quality patient care.”
Hobbies: “Reading, exploring bakeries and New York City, etymology, learning languages.”
Why I became a doctor: “I just love people. What brought me to medicine wasn’t science of medicine or learning how the body works. I’m at my happiest when I can personally do something to contribute to making somebody happy, and I think it’s difficult for people to be happy when they’re not healthy. So when I considered medical school I thought, ‘If I can help to make people healthy, I think that it’ll support them in their happiness, and give them an overall better quality of life.’ That’s a really special way to contribute to the lives of other people and my community.”
Why I chose osteopathic medicine: “I love the philosophy of osteopathic medicine; it just really resonated with me. When we talk about osteopathic medicine we don’t emphasize treating a disease but treating a person. I think now allopathic schools are also leaning towards that as a philosophy. It was clear when I was applying to medical schools that this is the core of osteopathic medicine and there’s so much there that makes sense to me, so how could I not pursue it?”
How medicine is different than I expected: “When I was a premed student, I thought most of medicine took place in a clinic or in a hospital, that you didn’t really step out of those boundaries. But especially now that I’m a resident, I see how much of the health care conversation takes place outside of a clinic or a hospital and how important it is to be at those table with the people who are making those trickle-down decisions about health care.”
Hopes for the future of medicine: “My biggest hope for the medical field is to treat advocacy like an everyday part of our lives. I think right now we have a perspective on advocacy or policy change that is a big thing, an event, that you must take step back or step away from practice to advocate. But I believe in everyday grassroots advocacy, and the little things that people can do on an everyday basis to advocate for our patients and for our communities.
“There’s plenty of negative stuff going on. My perspective is always that if, if there’s a problem, there’s something wrong, you can either complain about it or you can do something about it. I just feel lucky that I’m impassioned by being the person who tries to do something about it. Physicians, in general, can have a louder voice or a bigger seat at the table in terms of the entire health care system. I want everyone to understand that we can do it.”