Quick, define holistic. Do you know the answer?

It comes from the Greek word “holos” meaning “all” or “whole,” and is defined as, “An approach towards anything as a sum of its parts instead of its individual components.”

If you’ve ever had a brush with the world of alternative medicine or read just about any university’s mission statement, you’ve probably heard this word before. Both of these scenarios are encounters I’ve had with the idea of holism.

Take Gannon’s mission statement for example. The very first line is, “Gannon is a Catholic, Diocesan, student-centered University which provides for the holistic development of undergraduate and graduate students in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

There’s the word holistic again. In this context, it means that Gannon focuses on developing students as a whole – developing them spiritually and socially, not just academically. It’s an approach I wholeheartedly agree with and part of the reason I decided to attend Gannon.

As I’ve stated in earlier blogs, I’m part of the LECOM 4+4 program here at Gannon. As long as I meet certain requirements, I’ll be automatically admitted to the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, on the path to earn my degree as a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO).

When I’m explaining this to people, this is usually where they ask, “Wait, so like a bone doctor?”

Not quite. While the prefix osteo- does mean bone, DOs are not skeletal specialists. On the contrary, most DOs actually end up being general physicians.

For those who don’t know the difference, DOs are the lesser known counterparts to medical doctors (MDs). What’s the difference? One simple idea: holism.

DOs prefer to focus on the patient as a whole. They have all the same procedures and practices as MDs, but often look to alternative forms of healing in conjunction with conventional methods.

For example, if you have headaches, a DO would likely prescribe you pain medication, but would also suggest you see an acupuncturist or try relaxation therapy. Neither seem like a likely solution to headaches, but they’ve actually been proven as methods of effective therapy.

It’s all part of the holistic approach. Treat the person as a whole, not just one pain or ailment. The same approach is important in all aspects of life. You’re not just a student, but also a friend, coworker, athlete or actor.  Especially in college, it’s important to keep every part of your life healthy and in balance.

Matt 🙂

Although Gannon does offer pre-determined tracks, such as the LECOM 4+4 program, many students choose the traditional pre-med route and apply for medical school. Ryann Beaumont outlines the entire process in her guest blog.