Roseville native named Family Physician of the Year

By: Brendan Losinski | Metro | Published January 26, 2021

 Dr. Kathy Rollinger recently was named the 2020 Family Physician of the Year by the Michigan Association of Osteopathic Physicians.

Dr. Kathy Rollinger recently was named the 2020 Family Physician of the Year by the Michigan Association of Osteopathic Physicians.

Photo provided by Kathy Rollinger

ROSEVILLE — Dr. Kathy Rollinger has been practicing medicine in southeast Michigan for her entire career and has saved and changed untold lives during that time.

Recently, her service was honored by the Michigan Association of Osteopathic Physicians, which named her the 2020 Family Physician of the Year.

“It’s very humbling to be recognized by the peers within your organization and for promoting family medicine in the area where you grew up and were raised,” she remarked.

A Roseville native, Rollinger has spent her career helping residents on the east side.

“I was raised in Roseville and went through Roseville schools and lived there for more than 30 years. My practice is in St. Clair Shores, and I live in Clinton Township. Basically, after medical school, you have to do a residency in what area you’re interested in, and I became affiliated with both St. John’s (Hospital) and Beaumont (of Grosse Pointe) and went into family medicine. This is everything from delivering babies to individuals who are in their later years.”

Rollinger said she loves working in family medicine and wishes more doctors would go into it since it offers more complete help to patients and requires a fuller knowledge of medicine on the part of the physician.

“Family medicine is a specialty with a ‘whole person’ approach to medicine,” she explained. “As an osteopathic family physician, our philosophy is to regard your body as an integrated whole. During medical school, we receive additional training in the musculoskeletal system. After completing medical school, and receiving your DO or MD degree, an additional three years of supervised training is required in family medicine. This training covers general medicine and specialty areas including preventative health care. I have been fortunate to incorporate low risk obstetrics, delivering babies and pediatrics into my family medicine practice.”

She had to be nominated by her colleagues for the award.

“You are nominated by fellow colleagues within the profession, and then a committee would vote on it,” said Rollinger. “I won a different award last year from them, the Distinguished Service Award. A few of my colleagues within the Michigan Association of Osteopathic Physicians were familiar with my work, and I think one of them nominated me.”

Unbeknownst to Rollinger at the time, it was a former Michigan State University classmate of hers who nominated her for the award: Dr. Steve Swetech.

“I have watched my classmate evolve into an exemplary osteopathic family physician,” Swetech wrote in his nomination letter. “She is the prime example of a hard-working successful female physician who even delivers babies! She is a pillar of her community and a champion for women in the medical profession.”

Rollinger said being a doctor can be a double-edged sword, providing untold challenges but also being the most fulfilling thing she could imagine.

“I think one of the most challenging aspects of family medicine is trying to provide comprehensive care in a real efficient manner,” she said. “I also work with family medicine residents, so I am helping teach them, and that is challenging, but the hardest parts are the time constraints because you want to give people the best care but only have so much time. … I enjoy taking care of individuals and families the best. Getting to take care of babies I deliver and then continuing to take care of that family as they grow up is incredibly rewarding.”

Rollinger also received the Michigan Osteopathic Association’s Women of Excellence Award for 2020, which she said was nearly as much of an honor.

“I think female physicians have continued to excel in the profession, and I am appreciative to work for a major hospital, Beaumont, and feel very supported by them,” she said.

Rollinger added that being a family doctor allows her to be often both the first and last line of defense as people fight for their health.

“There could be more awareness in the full spectrum in what family practitioners can provide to families,” she said. “I feel well trained in pediatrics, geriatrics and general medicine and so forth, and I certainly value my consultants in the specialty areas, but I think there is a special value of having a family doctor who knows everything about you and sees the whole picture.”

Swetech said he could think of no other colleague more deserving for recognition than Rollinger.

“She is a credit to her family, her schools and to society as a whole,” wrote Swetech in his nomination letter. “I entreat you to give serious consideration to the warrior and champion of women’s recognition in the medical profession. Susan B. Anthony would be proud of this trailblazing osteopathic family physician.”