Natasha Romanoski, DO is the Residency Program Director, Student Elective Rotation Director, Vice Chair of Education and Assistant Professor in PM&R at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. She also serves on the AAP’s Board of Trustees as an Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) representative. Discover Natasha’s path to leadership – in her words.
My path to leadership has led me to a career that I truly love and value every day. My path was not always clearly laid out; instead, I've learned to embrace opportunities that bring meaning to my career. I first decided to pursue medicine while obtaining my bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology. Like many other physiatrists, I have always had a fascination with anatomy and movement of the human body, and I recognized that medicine would allow me to truly take care of others in a comprehensive and multifaceted way. Soon after, I discovered physiatry as an ideal fit for my interests and goals. I was amazed to discover a field that could offer so much not only for my future patients, but also for my career. And although I remember my undergraduate experience as the pivotal time in my life where I chose to pursue medicine, I discovered I had previously made this decision at age 7, as documented in a short story I had written which was recently uncovered by my family!
It was during my residency training that I was first introduced to the AAP. I began attending yearly meetings and have rarely missed one since. The AAP showed me the value in education, research, and collaboration. Each AAP opportunity was a way to network with others and learn more about the field. I began to understand the power in not only educating and empowering my patients, but I could do the same with my colleagues in physiatry. I discovered that we could work together for a common goal of advancing our field to better serve our patients.
As I've continued down my path, I have been fortunate to meet many people along the way who have provided unparalleled mentorship and guidance. I have learned that mentorship comes in many forms and being a mentor to others has been equally beneficial to my own personal and professional growth. I got involved in educational leadership as soon as I began my career in academic medicine. I have served as our department’s Student Elective Rotation Director, Associate Program Director, and now Program Director for residency training. I have also worked with our College of Medicine to assist with various humanities courses—a great fit to bridge medical education with the values and lessons learned from the physiatric field. Additionally, I was selected for a small cohort of fellows across the country comprising various specialties for the AAMC’s LEAD (Leadership in Education and Development) Program. This fellowship program further enhanced my understanding of effective leadership and allowed me to recognize the value in promoting physiatry not only at my own institution and within the AAP, but also within the AAMC, which reaches many people at the start of their education.
As I join the AAP's Board of Trustees, I look forward to serving along side great leaders and mentors in the field. As the AAP’s representative to the AAMC, I hope to enhance the training of our nation's future physicians by advocating for additional training and early understanding of those with disability and functional impairment. Together, I hope we can continue to discover ways to be an effective presence in the medical community for the benefit of our future students, leaders and patients.