Rhode Island Society of Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons
142 E. Ontario St., 4th Fl.
Chicago, IL  60611
Ph: 800-454-9663
Fax: 312-202-8224
risops@osteopathic.org

 

Following His Passion

Gregory Allen, DO

By: Andrew P. Peck, for www.risops.org

During the summer of 2016, the Rhode Island Society of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons introduced its first president in over four years. With the election of Gregory Allen, DO, (pictured at left, below, with Dr. James Griffin) the Society welcomed an experienced PCP who also spends time as a teaching physician and in hospital administration. His unique skillset makes Dr. Allen an ideal choice to lead the group in the years ahead. Early in the fall, Dr. Allen spoke with RISOPS.org to discuss his career in medicine a well as his hopes and plans for the near future.

In the very beginning why did you decide to practice medicine?
Before medical school, I worked for almost 12 years on fire department rescue, full-time. As I gained experience and was promoted to the rank of Rescue Lieutenant, I became more and more interested in emergency medicine, and developing additional skills while serving people in their time of greatest need. Although I had always aspired to attend law school, circumstances and chance had other plans for me.

A great friend and colleague of mine (Herbert “Hub” Brennan, DO) left the same fire department to attend medical school about four years prior to me. His departure planted the seed of exploring the prospect of furthering my medical education. Not long after, I experienced a life-changing event. We had a chance to deliver a baby in someone's house one night. You talk about fate. We took a call on the way back from another run that was out of our district. When we arrived, the baby was already crowning, and after some anxious moments, was delivered right there in the bedroom. We got her to the hospital safe and sound. On the way back, I remember thinking, Wow! that's not something that lawyers get to do.

I needed to go back and finish my undergrad studies, so I set out on the same path that Dr. Brennan did before me. I thought that I’d give it my best, and if I found that I couldn’t handle the work or if I was told that I wasn’t cut out for medicine, then I’d revert back to my original plan. That hasn’t happened…at least not yet.

I went to Providence College (where I had originally been denied acceptance right out of high school) and completed my Bachelor’s while working full-time on the fire department. I was first exposed to the Osteopathic principles by Hub. He told me about the fundamental difference in philosophy, and encouraged me to consider attending an Osteopathic school. After being lucky enough to be invited to attend a Saturday interview by another friend (and former firefighter) Dr. John Barrett) I knew that the University of New England was where I wanted to go.

I was really fortunate to have been introduced to RISOPS very early in the process. This group welcomed me with open arms during the application and interview process. Their recommendation got me on the radar at UNECOM, and the rest is history.

And why Osteopathic Medicine?
The thing that was stressed to me from the beginning was: patient-centered care. Being there, being focused on that approach - to look at problems and disease with an open mind. To not just say, "If this, then that." But instead to ask why. "Why is this?" Let's look at the basis of the problem and not just throw something at it. Let's better understand the process and how to make it better. It just meshed with me and my way of thinking.

What would you like our readers to know about your current practice?
I graduated from UNECOM in 2002, and completed my residency at Roger Williams Medical Center in 2005. I've been here, in once capacity or another, since then.

I have tried from the beginning to maintain that patient-centered approach to practicing medicine. I have offices both in East Greenwich and in Providence. I have patients ranging in age from 15 to 102. I am fortunate enough to be asked to care for three generations of some families. A friend once said that as a primary care physician, you get a front row seat to see and make a difference in your patients’ lives, and it’s certainly true. That's what it's all about.

For which medical associations have you served along with RISOPS? Officers positions held?
I currently serve on the Rhode Island Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner's Advisory Council, and the Rhode Island Medicaid Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee. I've also remained active in the hospital where I practice; Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence. I'm currently the Chair of the Medical Executive Committee. From an appointment standpoint, I serve as Director of General Internal Medicine at Roger Williams, which allows me to serve as Clerkship Director for UNECOM and B.U medical students.

In your own words, what are the benefits of belonging to a state osteopathic medical society?
With my history, I think I owe my ability to get connected with UNECOM to RISOPS. It's a big deal. Through the years, being able to collaborate with local doctors; having that ability to connect and to maintain those connections has been invaluable. On a national level, (AOA President) Dr. Boyd Buser was a mentor at UNECOM. To watch the progression and success that he's had since then has been very interesting and motivating. He was a person who I really looked up to and followed while I was in medical school. I was president of my class and served a student rep on multiple committees alongside him. He really took our input to heart and went to bat for students. Any time we can organize, collaborate, and advocate on the issues important to us and our patients is a huge benefit. As new students and residents are introduced to our profession, it is vitally important to embrace them and thereby ensure that future generations can do the same.

I think it's extremely important to be able to work together on important issues. There’s power in numbers. It sounds like a trite thing to say, but it’s so very true.

What are your goals for RISOPS for the next year and beyond?
The first goal is to put ourselves on a level playing field in Rhode Island. I'm almost embarrassed to live in a state that can be so DO-friendly (like we are at Roger Williams, or is witnessed at Kent County Hospital) and yet have another hospital system that goes out of its way to maintain archaic and discriminatory practices against Osteopathically trained and credentialed Physicians duly licensed to practice medicine in our State. I can't understand how some physicians and administrators could still be so backward in their thinking. We are going shine light on this practice and advocate on their behalf.

We continue to strive to make the organization visible and heard on other important issues like Tort reform, the “Modifier 25 rollback,” with Blue Cross, and the State legislative agenda as it affects physicians and patients. We have to keep our presence at a high level. We are a very small organization but as a small state we have the opportunity and flexibility to accomplish some things that bigger states cannot. To keep the association relevant and maintain membership viability, we've got to keep the organization visible. I look forward to working with my colleagues on these and other goals as we move forward.

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