Thank you to my number one, Jackie, words can’t express how grateful I am to you. You have weathered the storm of medical school, residency, and a newbie developing a practice. One time, during residency, I feared we were so poor that we would not have the money to pay our bills the next week. She said, not to worry. I have squirreled away a few “thousands” to my shock and relief!
She is impressive in her ability to take care of us; she has watched over our family day and night. I am truly blessed that God put you in my life, and I love you. Together we accomplished incredible things, most importantly the gift of the most perfect four kids in the world. Kelsey, Fred IV, Angelica, and Melissa. Our Kelsey at Rutgers will help save this environment for the next generations. Thank you for showing me how to truly love the world around me.
Fred IV, at Maine (go Bears) embodied the dedication needed for playing division 1 football. Never faltering from your goals makes me so proud and inspires me. I see in you the same spirit I see in your Grandma Sara. Keep strong and keep that drive to pursue your goals; know that I look up to you as a role model rather than the other way around.
My little Angelica, proud doesn’t begin to express how I feel as you pursue a future in orthopedics! Talk about no fear; she handled a cadaver knee and shoulder labs when she was 16 & 17 years old. That would make the typical teenager nauseous and run in fear. My apprehension drained away when she just said this is “really cool.”
Melissa, your gentleness and ability to see the best in everyone and every situation are remarkable; it is a skill I try my best to emulate in my encounters with patients,families, and residents.
Thank you to Derede, my sister. She was present and there to support me for every monumental moment in my life, including graduations and the birth of my children. She gave me and my daughter our first stethoscopes. She was present when I received my Fellowship into this very Academy on September 11, 2008. She has been a true ideal example of how strong, powerful women can succeed. Thank you for being that inspiration to my daughters. The care and love, and protection you give to our mother is amazing. I am so grateful to have you at our family’s back; thank you.
Thank you to my father, the first Dr. Fred McAlpin, a Doctorate in Child psychology, he owned and ran one of the first black-owned private kindergarten/elementary school in Philadelphia in the 1970s. Though he may no longer be with us, he is in my heart and still my hero. I still hear his words giving me guidance, support, and love.
Thank you to My Mother, Sara, who instilled in my sister and me always to pursue education! My mother had a ferocious appetite for learning, teaching others, and supporting her family. She worked two jobs nursing overnight and holding a master’s in special education as a teacher during the day, to ensure we always had what we needed and pay for our college education. She and Dad cemented in me that family is number one. Her words, “You can, You can!” echoed in my head during my long nights studying in medical school. With my “you can” attitude, I never knew nor entertained the concept of failure. It simply was not in my vocabulary. Thank you for giving me that strength.
I have drawn many lessons from my family, and they are my beacon to guide me through the darkest of times to the shores of my dreams!
The most important mentor and inspiration in my life next to my father was Dr. Carl Mogil. He opened the door for me, as well as many women and minorities, in a field where few existed in osteopathic orthopedics. His foresight and beliefs in a young medical student graced me to be the first African American Osteopathic Orthopedic resident through the University of Medicine of Dentistry School in New Jersey and then the first African- American Osteopathic surgeon in the state of New Jersey. He guided me to develop and lead the inaugural Orthopedic Residency program in Vineland, New Jersey. Here now, thanks to Dr. Mogil instilling leadership skills in me, and by God’s blessings, I am the first African American president of the AOAO! Dr. Mogil, I was devastated by your recent passing, you were like a second father to me, and I thank you.
Two Osteopathic Orthopedic Surgeon Pioneers forged a path ahead of me; Thank you to Dr. Greg Hill and Dr. Walter Grady, who broke down barriers making this possible.
Finally, my Premier Orthopedics family and patients, you give my life joy and passion. I sincerely love going to work every day, working shoulder to shoulder with amazing people who touch and fulfill my life. Talking of special patients, I want to share a short story of my long time patients, 84 years old Edith and Edgar, whom I’ve treated for years for various ailments. Edgar came to see me this time alone with a complaint of terrible shoulder pain. To evaluate him, I performed a Hawkins, Neers, strength testing — I decided on a treatment and started to explain to Edgar, let’s get you on an NSAID. “What’s that doc?”
“Oh, I’m sorry it’s an anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen.” “NO, no, no!” and he threw up his hands!! “My wife says I can’t have that! The last time I took that, it gave me explosive diarrhea at 4 in the morning!!!”
“Ok, I understand waking up and running to the bathroom at 4 am must have been miserable,” I said to him.
“Well, That’s the problem.” He said, “I woke up at 7 am!”
OMG, That’s terrible, I tried to say… But Edgar went on, “I only sleep in a nightshirt doc, and they were the wife’s favorite sheets,”
Ok, I noted. “I sleep with a fan next to the bed, doc. I had to buy her brand new curtains; they are really expensive.”
“Let’s get back on track, Edgar. We need to find out why you have shoulder pain.”
“Oh, I know why I have shoulder pain… Edith hit me with a lamp at 7 am!”
The moral of this story is that in 2020, the poop has really hit the fan!!! Almost nothing good came from it, or did it?
When I was 2nd vice president two years ago, I thought the most considerable challenge that would face me as president of our Academy in 2020 was the smooth finalization of the ACGME merger, but 2020 had a much different plan for us all. The Coronavirus hit and test the resolve of all health care providers and their families!
Further, amid this horrible pandemic came the word of another horrific atrocity to our fellow African American citizens. Seeing heinous crimes on television at the hands of a few rogue police across the United States set fear in me to my very core. A chilling nightmare of being awoken to hear that my son or daughters were victims of brutality. I felt uncertain about how to deal with this new sad challenge. The answer for me was my family, who gave me my strength and power. The past lessons instilled in me by my parents of standing up for myself, and my family gave me comfort and showed me the light forward. I saw peaceful marches and knew I could not stand by and do nothing. I felt an obligation to my children to do my best to improve the world that they would live in.
I stood in solidarity with people of all colors at that Philadelphia rally! I was proud that all Americans saw the need for improvement in our society. When I returned that evening, my good friend and neighbor Joe Vona, a staunch Trump supporter, stood at my side with his entire family for the township Black Lives Matter rally. My neighborhood family, once again, had my back. This was not a political matter but a conscious choice to stand up for your neighbors, friends, family, and patients. Several of my white friends asked how they could help. I want to pass on my advice to you, if you too, feel that all people deserve fair civil treatment with law enforcement.
I am a proud lifetime member of the National Society Of Police Surgeons. My membership signifies to officers that I prioritize care for police and their families with orthopedic injuries. I know the many police officers I have treated over the years are good people and would benefit from education and proper training to handle the interactions they will face in the minority population. The Police Academy trains officers on how to use guns safely. They must routinely certify proper technique; I know this because I have repaired many an officer’s shoulders, and they must prove a recovery to be safe to return to service. Similar de-escalation training in minority interactions and yearly certifications with accountability across the nation can save lives. Training police is a better option than defunding. Mayors have this power at township levels.
My friend Lou Manzo, mayor of Mullica Hill, I implore you to help us get the training for our township. Governors have this power with State Police. Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey, I call on you to support our state police with mandated training. Please let your voice continue to be heard. If we work together, Black, White, Latino, Asian; we can spark our towns’ leaders to support change and education of our police force. I asked that you contact your mayors and governors, and congressmen to push for the America we all deserve and the America, our children, will be proud to live in.
I came to realize my “family” was so much bigger than those that sat at our table for Thanksgiving dinner. The fact is, it includes you as well. The Academy is very much apart of my family! Knowing when hard times hit, and eventually, adversity always hits; you need people, friends, and family looking out for you. Dr. Lee Vander Lugt cares so deeply for this academy and its members. He loves this academy and poured his soul into its growth and prosperity. It is with a great deal of sadness that I wish him well in his new retirement. The academy will forever be indebted to you for your faithful service to the Osteopathic Community. I want to formally ask that you grant the academy the honor of being this year’s new official parliamentarian.
I welcome Dr. Jim Mason, my good friend. I have been witness to your dedication and commitment to the academy for many years. Lee leaves the academy in well capable hands. I know, Jim, you will carry just as much passion for keeping the academy moving forward. I look forward to working with you next year.
I have been honored to serve on the board of Directors since 2012 and saw firsthand the passion of making this academy unique and purposeful and the board’s help in bringing the academy and its members successfully into the future. I could choose no better warriors to fight for the academy’s success as these osteopathic doctors on the board of directors, both past and present. I am honored to call these individuals I have worked with these years, above all, my great friends. Thank you for your service and sacrifice of time to the academy. I especially want to include Joye and the entire valuable Ruggles team that has brought our meetings and academy so much success.
This pandemic helped me realize how blessed I truly am, that I am lucky and blessed to be in the family McAlpin, Mitchell and the family of the AOAO. I further learned I am lucky to be among this elite group of people. We may be small in numbers when compared to our MD brothers and sisters but, just as Seal Team are six small in number when compared to the entire navy and other armed forces. I see us likened to Seal Team Six of Orthopedics; we are a close, elite family that very few will be lucky enough to be invited to join.
Here within the Academy, you will find the father that advises you and opens opportunities, the mother that will protect your DO status as a mother lion protects her cubs. The Academy is filled with the brothers and sisters that support and defend you against those that would cause your practice harm. They laugh, celebrate your success, and give advice that improves your future. And like your very own family, this Academy and its members will never leave you even should you stray temporarily away a few years. It will wait to welcome you back with open arms. You will have a home for life here. You are never alone. Isn’t it in times of hardship that we need our family and friends to lean on? To share times of joy and happiness with those whom we went to battle and weathered the trenches of residency and practice!
To my Inspira Hospital residents and all those in residency training now: Here in the Academy, you will find the continued camaraderie that supported you in residency. We are positioned to help you navigate boards, find fellowships, and to stimulate research and education. If you are lucky enough and intelligent enough to have completed and graduated from an Osteopathic Medical School, it matters not where you complete your orthopedic residency; you are now accepted in an exclusive, very close-knit group! Don’t let this wonderful blessing drift away from you. Indeed, don’t diminish your skillset by not indulging in the fruits of your hard work; you have access to the most elite of orthopedic surgeons. I call on you to join in leadership in the Academy. Serve on committees and the board, and move up to gain and be bestowed the Award of Fellow.
I will vow to help and sponsor you for that goal. When this dark cloud of a pandemic passes, let’s rejoin together again spring or fall, face to face and hug if social distancing permits. Let us share laughs and smiles, or if sadly there is misfortune then tears, but still, we all made it through this together as a family. Bring your loved ones and new babies so we can see how the kids have grown. Tell us your struggles of suddenly becoming the elementary school teacher to your rambunctious little brat, I mean child.
Pass on to us the lessons you have learned along the way in practice and educate your fellow brothers and sisters of the Academy. My congratulations to our newest fellows. Hopefully, you will join us in person next fall. I finally have one more ask of you in the pursuit of education. I ask you to remember that person that was your educational inspiration. Mine were many, Jackie, Derede, Kelsey, Freddy, Gigi, and Missy. Who was your Dr. Mogil? Or was it your mom and dad that help drive your pursuit of being the elite orthopedic surgeon that you are?
With their name in mind, please go to the AOAO Foundation that was developed to raise and support the Osteopathic orthopedic profession’s education, and donate in that person’s name. Let their name live on to form a continued legacy of the AOAO.