In addition to providing care in my private primary care practice in Jupiter, FL, I have had the privilege of volunteering care to underserved patients. If you have ever thought of volunteering, I highly recommend it. When I volunteer, it reminds me of Dr. Byron Laycock, professor of osteopathic principles at DMU from 1940 to 1975, saying, “Never forget the reason you wanted to be a doctor.”
Raised in Pontiac, MI, my mother was advised to abort my twin sister and me. I am thankful to be alive, and I owe so much for that privilege. My grandfather’s parents were among the Jewish population that was mass-murdered in a pogromme in Ticocin, Poland, in 1944. My grandfather had left his homeland in 1906, however. If he had stayed, I would not be here, again thankful for the opportunity to make a difference in this world.
After graduating from the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, now DMU, I established a practice and became interested in volunteering to the less fortunate. My volunteering began with Special Olympics physicals and transitioned into volunteering yearly at an orphanage in Mexico. In the 1990s, I met Father John Mericantante, a priest from St. Mary’s in nearby Pahokee, FL, where I provided care on Saturdays for seven years to those in need.
Persistence paid off. The Palm Beach, FL, County Health Department saw value, opening the Pahokee Clinic five days per week. It remains viable today.
Then I began to volunteer at the Carelink Baptist Clinic near my practice. It closed in 2010, due to lack of funding. In 2011, an interest galvanized in our community to provide medical care to the less fortunate. In collaboration with our local hospital, grant funders, donors and dedicated volunteers, we established MyClinic, where I have the honor of being board chairman.
Despite the time constraints and pressures we face, it is not difficult to balance private practice with volunteering. Rely on your inner beliefs and the reason you became a doctor; opportunities will unfold.
Some thoughts about how you can contribute to your community:
• Connect with people who will stay true to the cause. You can even commit to a few times a year. You can make a difference.
• Get involved by plugging into a reputable clinic in your area. The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics is a good resource: www.nafcclinics.org
• Stay true to your guiding principles; there will always be obstacles.
Board-certified in osteopathic family practice, Ron Surowitz, D.O.’71, is past president of the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association.