Get to Know Your 2022-2023 FOMA Executive Committee: Director-at-Large Joseph Sassano, DO
Get to Know Your 2022-2023 FOMA Executive Committee - Director at Large Joseph Sassano, DO
The old cliche "I always wanted to be a doctor" rings true for me. Since I was a child , playing army and adventure games, and watching shows on TV, the character I emulated the most was the "Doctor." My mother's physician was an Osteopathic Family Physician in a suburb of Akron, Ohio and when we were no longer toddlers, we started seeing him as our primary doctor. His name was Dr. Rex Dinsmore, DO. He took excellent care of my mother and was so friendly and patient with us kids. I wanted to be just like him - and I told him. He allowed me to follow him in high school and college. He helped me get my foot in the door at Kirksville and Des Moines Colleges of Osteopathy, and I was even lucky enough for him to be a preceptor for me in my last two years of medical school. Having him as our family physician and later as a preceptor, showed me what being an Osteopathic Physician really meant: being kind, having patience, using the ability to communicate, educating patients, and having the hands-on touch that our patients want and need. That was him and that is what I wanted. I owe a lot to Dr. Dinsmore and his family.
I trained in Southeast Florida at the Southeast College of Osteopathic Medicine and Southeast Medical Center in North Miami Beach in the mid 1980s. In medical school, most of my rotations were in Cleveland, Ohio; Flynt, Michigan; Columbus, Ohio; and Kirksville, Missouri. All these places had large Osteopathic communities and hospitals. The district Osteopathic societies welcomed and encouraged students to join and participate - which I did. This instilled the importance, to me, of being part of an organization that was beneficial, protective, and welcoming to my journey into Osteopathy - which at the time, was not always a friendly environment to Osteopathic physicians or students. When I started my first private practice in Tampa, Florida in 1989, I knew the first thing I had to do was join the state and district osteopathic medical societies. Here, I would find support and guidance in my new venture and meet colleagues that even today are a valuable support in my career as well as dear friends for life. FOMA truly had my back in the 1980s and continues to have my back in the 2020s. I try at every possible opportunity to stress the importance of FOMA membership and regional osteopathic medical society membership as an invaluable resource to our students, interns, and residents; this membership will benefit you not only throughout your medical career, but for years after you retire.
What I love about being an Osteopathic physician is when patients come in and say, "I have been looking all over for an Osteopathic Doctor." I instantly feel a connection to that patient. They understand what it is to treat "Mind, Body, and Soul." They are not looking for a referral, they are looking for me to guide them in caring for their bodies both in prevention and healing. They know as an Osteopathic Doctor, I am trained to listen and guide them - not to order them or talk down to them. These relationships - all of them - are inspirational to me.
At the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medical school, I was fortunate enough to get several scholarships that paid for my tuition. My last two years in school I received the National Health Scholarship Award, which was only given to 105 students across the country that year since President Ronald Regan had phased the program out. After my post graduate training, I embarked on a truly life-changing path that really allowed me to use my Osteopathic education to the max. I became an officer in the Commissioned Corps and worked for the Indian Medical Service in Gallup, New Mexico. Working with mostly newly graduated physicians really showed me how advanced and how much knowledge KCOM and SECOM had instilled on me during my schooling and training, as compared to my allopathic counterparts. The Rural health care programs of both KCOM and SECOM elevated my game and prepared me for treating patients in an underserved part of our country. The procedures I already knew, the disease processes I was confident treating, the ability to communicate with patients and to be compassionate and flexible in their culture, and using the hands-on approach, which was instilled into me, made me a leader in this setting. I realized I could do this, I could really be a physician, I was a benefit to my patients, and I really felt I was living my dream.
Florida Osteopathic Medical Association (FOMA) | Tallahassee, FL