The Osteopathic Approach to 3-D Printing:
A Scholarship Success Story

I thought that I would reach out again and express my gratitude for being considered and selected for the A.V. Jackson Endowment Scholarship* last year. 

During this intense few weeks of uncertainty, one of the most demoralizing parts for me personally was being asked as a future D.O. to lock myself in my house and no longer be able to use my hands to practice my osteopathic skills. Initially, I thought to myself, “this will be great, I can really hammer down on COMLEX practice questions and get a stellar score.” However, almost 3,000 questions and over 10,000 flashcards later, the thing I long for most is to use one of the foundational aspects of Osteopathic treatment: touch.

I remember in frustration telling my wife, “This isn’t what I signed up for. I want to be a physician and I’m stuck in my house while support staff and receptionists are required to be on the frontline.” My sweet wife, humbling me a bit, said, “Well you didn’t sign up to be a sociologist either. You don’t identify the problem and stop. Your job is to identify the solution. So what can you do?” That got my gears turning a bit. 

I had dabbled a bit in 3d printing with a third-year mentor as part of a project that we are doing to enhance Osteopathic techniques. My mentor told me about a project that he was doing, 3d printing face shields to act as a droplet barrier form of PPE for our frontline. Because of the extra finances that we were awarded from the scholarship, I was able to buy supplies to get our operation running until we could find some donors. We created the Wiregrass COVID Coalition. We involved local businesses in our town. We soon found out that there were other organizations that were in the state of Alabama doing higher scale operations of the same thing. We connected with them to have networked resources and communicate our needs. As a collective organization, we have now shipped over 20,000 face shields across the state, with 1,500 of those being in and around the Wiregrass area.

If it hadn’t been for the scholarship, my wife and I probably wouldn’t have been in the financial position to initialize what went on in Dothan. Although I don’t get to put my hands on people, I can truly say that I get to fulfill one of the tenets of Osteopathy: that the body is a unit of body mind and SPIRIT. I have seen more spirits lifted in this endeavor than ever. It means the world to our frontline to know that their community is behind them. Right now, I don’t get to don my stethoscope, feel TART changes, or be a part of a hospital care team. But I am an Osteopath. I have never been prouder to utilize the holistic approach of medicine and heal people in a manner that contributes to their functional well-being: their spirit. 

Thank you once again for your consideration and selection last year. This experience has meant the world to me. 
Ben Buttars 
Medical Student (OMS II)
Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine

* In 2005, Ruth Jackson, daughter of Dr. A.V. Jackson left a portion of her estate for a “Jackson Memorial Scholarship” that would continue providing scholarships in perpetuity in her father’s name.
Dr. Jackson practiced medicine in Forest Grove, OR from the 1940s into the late 1970s. He was one of three DO’s that built Forest Grove Community Hospital in 1963, which is now part of Tuality Healthcare.
Would you like to leave that kind of legacy? Get more information here.