Pitzer Spotlights

2007-2008 Spotlight Archives

Mariko Ferronato ’07 Named Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Fellow

Mariko Ferronato ’07

Mariko Ferronato ’07 has received a prestigious Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) Fellowship through the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific.

A human biology major at Pitzer College, Ferronato was also a part of Pitzer’s seven-year linkage program with Western University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. In this program students study full-time for three years at Pitzer, and then go on to Western University’s medical school for another four before earning degrees as Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs).

Of the twenty-four medical students who applied for the OMM Fellowship, Ferronato was among only eight who were chosen, and the first Pitzer graduate to be named an OMM Fellow.

"With my fellowship I'll be teaching other Western University med students for four months each year for the next three years that I'm on rotations," Ferronato said.

Although receiving the fellowship means that Ferronato will graduate one year later than other Western University medical students, she believes that having the opportunity to teach others will be worth delaying the onset of her medical practice.

“It’s more important for me to give back and teach,” Ferronato said firmly.

As a senior in high school, Ferronato was drawn to Pitzer/Western University’s linkage program because she was almost certain that she wanted to study medicine, but did not want to miss out on a liberal arts experience.

Ferronato also cites a parallel between the medical practice of osteopathy and Pitzer’s commitment to social justice and activism.

“DOs work a lot in community-based healthcare, which is similar to Pitzer’s mentality. Both are a social force,” she said.

The only difference between an DO and an MD [Medical Doctor], according to Ferronato is that DOs have an additional aspect to their curricula—they have to learn to touch patients. Osteopathy is a holistic approach to medicine, in which doctors physically manipulate patients’ bodies to promote healing.

Ferronato gets frustrated when people accuse DOs of not being “real doctors.” “I tell them that a DO is the same thing; we have the same training, can prescribe the same medications and can perform the same surgeries—but we have something extra,” Ferronato said. “We have extra hours learning to touch patients, learning to listen to patients and learning to teach patients to help themselves.”

In fact, when Ferronato was at home recently on a school break, she was able to practice her hands-on osteopathic approach to healing on her father, who is an MD.

“My dad was having some shoulder pain,” she explained. “I put my hand on his spine and intuitively knew where the pain was coming from. He was really impressed.”

—Elizabeth Hedrick '09