Osteopathy Documentary Wins Regional Emmy Award

Arts & Culture


As a faculty member at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Thomas Quinn (D.O., not M.D.) teaches in multiple departments. And that’s not unusual for a physician specializing in family practice, especially in the osteopathic tradition, which emphasizes a holistic approach. “Just about every course, I have my hand in a little bit,” he says. But that didn’t stop him from finding time to write a book. Entitled The Feminine Touch: Women in Osteopathic Medicine, the project took six years. And this month, a documentary based on Quinn’s book and produced by WEDU PBS-TV—The Feminine Touch: The Struggle for Equality in Medicine—has won the Suncoast Regional Emmy Award for best historical documentary.

The idea began back in 2006, when Quinn took a trip to Kirksville, MO, and the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine. Located at the site of the original school of osteopathic medicine, the A.T. Skill University Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM), Quinn was struck by the black and white photos of the school’s opening, back in the early 1890s. “And every class had a large number of women,” says Quinn. “I knew that was extremely unusual for that time in history.” Looking closer, he found that ATSU-KCOM was actually one of the first medical schools in the United States to regularly accept women, beating Johns Hopkins School of Medicine by a year.

Through his book, Quinn chronicles the impacts of several women physicians through time, including LECOM’s own senior vice president and provost, Dr. Silvia Ferretti (D.O.), and found a surprising parallel narrative. “Women helped our profession, the same as the profession helped women,” says Quinn. Just as the osteopathic schools were quick to welcome women into the fold at a time when others would not, the achievements of these women in turn helped bolster the reputation of osteopathic medicine as a whole within the medical community still dominated by M.D.s as opposed to D.O.s.

The book and the film tell these twin narratives, and though the events of both may have roots back in the 19th century, Quinn believes the messages should and will still resonate today. “Because the struggle for both women and the osteopathic profession is still going on,” he says. “Both have made great strides, but the fight is not over.”

Pictured: Director Christine Kelly sets up a shot during the filming of the documentary, "The Feminine Touch." Photo courtesy of LECOM.

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