By Chris Motola
New doctor at Falcon Clinic talks about osteopathic medicine and his experience living in a nursing home as a ‘patient’ for 10 days. ‘I learned what it’s like to push a call button and nobody comes because they’re too busy,’ he says
Q: You are described as a family medicine–osteopathic neuromusculoskeletal physician. Just what does that mean?
A: I integrate both components—family medicine and osteopathic medicine. I’m half primary care and half osteopathic manipulation. In 2021, I finished my fellowship in family medicine at St. Elizabeth’s. Family medicine is primary care medicine. I offer basic healthcare, treat most ailments and provide full health care to people of all ages.
Today, when you go into primary care, you don’t always get to combine it with osteopathy. I’m board certified in osteopathy. Osteopathy and osteopath manipulation emphasizes the treatment of medical disorders through the manipulation and massage of the bones, joints and muscles.
As a D.O., doctor of osteopathic medicine, I’m a fully trained and licensed doctor. I completed four years of medical school in an osteopathic medical school. I took all the classes — anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, biology — all scientifically based. I also learned osteopathic manipulation, which MDs don’t learn.
Like a MD, I have the ability to prescribe medication and to refer people to other specialists. However, in our training, we’re taught to focus on the non-pharmacological solutions first, like manipulation and stretching. Because of that training, we reach for those solutions first. The other options are there and are available, but we use non-invasive options first. I definitely see the benefits of this approach.
Q: You’ve recently begun seeing patients at the Falcon Clinic. How did you choose the Falcon Clinic?
A: I choose the Falcon Clinic, as owner Dr. Richard Chmielewsk is a DO like me, and strongly supports osteopathic medicine. The Falcon Clinic offers me the opportunity to integrate my osteopathic training with primary care. I’m happy to be here, doing both primary care and osteopathic manipulation.
Q: How did you decide to become a physician?
A: The light bulb went off in my head when I took biology in the ninth grade. I had a charismatic teacher who got me interested in how biology relates to medicine, that is, how insulin helps diabetics. Something just clicked in my head and I knew I was really interested in this. This teacher encouraged me to follow my interest; she encouraged me to shadow medical professionals, go to nursing homes, etc. The snowball of interest kept getting bigger. In college, I took pre-med and biology, and got a master’s degree in biology.
Q: What attracted you to osteopathic medicine?
A: It’s not that I choose osteopathy. I’d really have to say it choose me. I knew I really wanted to be a doctor and applied to several medical schools. I was accepted by an osteopathic college. When I first started there, I was skeptical about osteopathy, as were many of my classmates. However, it grew on me as I learned, as I saw how much holistic medicine benefited the patients.
Q: We’re impressed by the learning experiences you’ve had, impressed that you were open to having these experiences, such as geriatric immersion, living as a post-stroke patient in a nursing home. What was the take-away for you from these experiences?
A: For 10 days, I lived as a hypothetical 85-year-old post-stroke patient in a wheelchair, with COPD and a nasal cannula, with no ability to use my right hand, and I’m strongly right-handed. I had to learn to eat with my left hand, brush my teeth with my left hand, etc. I learned what it’s like to push a call button and nobody comes because they’re too busy.
I believe that all heath care providers should have this experience. Often, I find doctors preach from “on high.” We haven’t experienced the things that our older patients are going through; we have no idea what it’s like. I’m 32, young, healthy and haven’t had to have significant interactions with the medical community.
One of my professors said “As a physician, everything that you can write an order for, you should first experience it for yourself. If you’re ordering a walker or a wheelchair, what does it feel like to be dependent on that equipment? What does it feel like to need help to transfer from a wheelchair to your bed or to the toilet?” He was right; we should experience it ourselves.
Though I had this training experience in 2017, not a day has gone by where it hasn’t permeated me; it was grounding. It was hard, but I’m glad I did it.
Q: What else would you like our readers to know about you?
A: I’m happy to be here at the Falcon Clinic, where I can offer good holistic medicine. We also do addiction medicine; we treat alcoholism and opioid addiction, and hepatitis C. Our patients appreciate that we’re as close to being a one-stop-shop as possible.
Name: Brian Zylinski, D.O
Position: Family medicine/osteopathic neuromusculoskeletal medicine physician at the Falcon Clinic for Health, Wellness and Recovery, New Hartford.
Hometown: Buffalo, New York
Current Residence: North Utica.
Education: B.S. degree in biology, Canisius College, Buffalo; M.A. in biology, State University of New York, Buffalo; D.O. degree, University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, Biddeford, ME.; Residency, St. Elizabeth Medical Center, Utica; Residency, Trinity Health Muskegon, Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, East Lansing
Organizations: American Society of Clinical Oncology; American Society of Hematology, American College of Physicians
Personal: Single, no children.
Hobbies: Plays ice hockey weekly; avid runner; sings, play the guitar, likes country music. Practicing Roman Catholic; the church is an important part of his life.