By Bernadette A. Riley, DO, FACOFP, FILM; member, ACOFP Women in Leadership Committee
On Mondays, I teach second-year osteopathic medical students. My first class is at 8 am, and I usually prepare by reading the objectives, lectures and faculty sheets that were done by the curriculum team. Sometimes I have an academic scholar with me, so I meet with them beforehand to discuss the class. Mondays I also have my office hours, which are currently by Zoom. After work and on Tuesdays, I catch up on my clinical notes, on phone calls and with my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) team—which consists of a physician assistant, coordinator and committee—to review agendas for the week, meeting symposia, CME agendas, etc. Wednesdays are a very busy work day for me; I am at the clinical site and see patients from 8 am – 5 pm, with third- and fourth-year osteopathic medical students rotate within the center. Most Thursdays I meet with the Congressional Health Policy Fellow from the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) College of Osteopathic Medicine and review health policy briefs and our curriculum, as well as discuss our Medical Society of the State of New York House of Delegates plans, for which we both serve as Delegates.
During the week, I meet with students who email me to ask for career advice and publication opportunities, as well as mentees who are assigned to me and who ask for career advice. I also write a lot of letters of recommendation for students for their research, jobs, residency, Visiting Student Learning Opportunities Application Service or scholarships. I also am faculty mentor for two academic scholar, so we work on our research, posters, abstracts and more. Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings, I see patients, and on alternate Friday afternoons, I teach first-year osteopathic students. During weeknights, I have many zoom calls planned with osteopathic medical students with whom I work on research projects. I am the director of NYIT’s EDS/Hypermobility Treatment Center, which is a multidisciplinary center for this specific population at the NYIT Academic Healthcare Center. I am involved in a variety of research projects, presentations, publications and grants at the center. I have started the EDS fourth-year elective, and I have fourth-year students rotate with me. This year, the students who are doing the elective got to showcase our research in a national conference.
Most of my interests are medically related. I love being a doctor of osteopathic medicine, and I have a lot of interests that surround my career. I have an interest in health policy and serve as the vice president of the New York State Osteopathic Medical Society (NYSOMS). I am also on the Executive Committee for the Nassau County Medical Society (NCMS) and on the Board of Trustees for Nassau Academy of Medicine (NAM). I am on various committees in MSSNY, NYSOMS and have been chair of the NYSOMS Regional Osteopathic Convention since 2016. I am also on committees within the ACOFP. A lot of times, I have meetings for all of the above, but most of the meetings are online now.
At night, I do my graduate course homework, assignments and papers, and I study on weekends. I am currently enrolled in a master of science program in clinical nutrition and take one class a semester. I hope someday to find a diet that improves symptoms related to EDS/hypermobile spectrum disorders.
My weekends usually begin in the house I grew up in, as I usually make the 2+ hour drive on Friday night. I grew up in a loving home where my parents supported education and, as the youngest child, I always looked up to and admired my older sister who was a good student, dancer, actress and entertainer. I was shy as a child, but remember being surrounded by friends. I have never been married and am very close with my family and my nephew, who was born when I was 17 and refers to me as “Bernie.” Most weekends I spend with my parents in their home, and a visit with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew—who live in the same county as my parents—is a highlight. My nephew is a classically trained musician, so we hear a lot of music, eat great food, and play with our dogs. My parents’ home to me has been a safe, comforting place.
I love art, especially the Impressionists, and I love reading books on artists’ lives and going to museums. Growing up in New York, most weekends, my parents took us to many plays, museums, trips and cultural tours, so I have been exposed to the arts. I did not appreciate it then as much as I do now. I used to love to travel overseas and have been to many places, and I look forward to one day going to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I try to see friends, but that has been limited since COVID. I am writing this on a Saturday and have plans to see the Immersive van Gogh Exhibit tonight.
I like gardening and plants, and if I am alone, I will garden or care for my orchids. I always try to keep myself busy, and I love to shop. I have always enjoyed shopping for clothing, bags and looking at fashion magazines. I am a big reader and I like to scout the bestsellers and try to keep up with them. I read the Wall Street Journal on Saturdays and like the “Off Duty” section.
As a young adult, I took ballet most of my childhood, and while I love to dance at events, I have not danced in a few years. I do value exercise, and on weekends, I like to go for a run, hike, or walk. When the weekend is done, I head to my car and get ready for the trip back. When I return on Sundays, I prepare for the work week and answer emails.