An Osteopathic physician, a president, an OMT expert and a mom

December 3, 2019

By Steven Bartolotta

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It began on a Tuesday with a flight from DFW to Columbus, Ohio. A 90-minute drive to Athens, Ohio, and a day spent discussing research at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, then back to Columbus the next day, a flight to Washington, D.C., that night, meetings with members of Congress and their staff the next day, an Uber to Bethesda, Maryland, a very important NIH Advisory Council meeting the next day, and then a flight home.

That was a recent whirlwind week for Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine Associate Professor Kendi Hensel, DO, PhD, FAAO, who also is President of the American Academy of Osteopathy.

“I don’t really ever want to do something like that again, but I got it done and I felt great about all three days,” Dr. Hensel said with a chuckle.

As AAO president, Dr. Hensel is one of the most in-demand and respected osteopathic physicians in the nation. She’s sits on several national advisory boards, including the AMA Pain Care Task Force and the Advisory Council to the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health.

Dr. Hensel also moonlights as a rater for the NBOME’s Performance Evaluation (PE) exams for osteopathic medical students, is an associate editor for The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, is the Immediate Past Chair of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine’s Education Council on Osteopathic Principles, and is a member of the Osteopathic Cranial Academy and the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians.

And oh, yes, she’s also a wife and the mother to a burgeoning volleyball star. When you add it all up, 40 hours a week doesn’t begin to cover it. But when it’s your passion, it’s what you do.

“I want to leave an impact on the profession and osteopathic medicine in the same way that so many other great physicians, researchers and professional did before me,” she said. “There are many great leaders in this field that had such an impact in shaping osteopathic medicine, and it really drew me in, and I want to make the same impact they did.”

Dr. Hensel’s weekly routine ranges from OMM clinic where she cares for patients of all ages, including newborns, to working with first and second-year students in the OMM lab, third- year students on rotation, a college advisor for TCOM students, and evening teleconferences for
the variety of councils and boards she sits on.

“She is heavily involved with osteopathic research and mentors our resident physicians, along with so many other important aspects of what she does,” said TCOM Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Ryan Seals, DO. “Dr. Hensel brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our institution and to our department.  We are proud that she represents TCOM and osteopathic medicine in these important areas on the local, national and international stage.”

Her expertise at OMM has made Dr. Hensel one of the most popular, but also effective physicians in the field. At the core of her love of osteopathic manipulative medicine, is the ability to help patients immediately.

“When I see people who aren’t able to sit or stand or walk comfortably because of the pain they are in, that’s our privilege to be able to help them,” Dr. Hensel said. “Because of this specialized skill set that we have, not all the time, but a lot of the time we are able to relieve that pain and help people hold their grandkids again, cook dinner, or just enjoy walking around with less pain. I want to help people, and OMM is something that’s a unique way to doing something that has an immediate effect.”

She’s leaving a legacy in the profession, but also doesn’t want to leave family behind. With an active teenager playing volleyball, Dr. Hensel has prioritized her time to maximize it with her family.

“I’ve gotten better at saying no,” she said. “I want to be able to be home as many evenings as I can to be with my daughter and husband. I do end up working several hours on the weekend or at night, but I do that in the evenings after the family has gone to bed.”

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