Osteopathy doctor treats ‘body, spirit and soul’
Dr. Rachel Ray, a Cherokee Nation citizen, listens to the heart of a patient at St. John’s Urgent Care in Sand Springs. Ray received her doctorate in osteopathic medicine in 2009 at Oklahoma State University to practice family medicine. COURTESY
TULSA – Rachel Ray, a Cherokee Nation citizen and osteopathy doctor, enjoys helping individuals and families in her family health practice.
Osteopathy is treatment via the manipulation of bones, joints, muscles or other areas requiring treatment.
“There’s two different medical systems in the United States. We have allopathic medicine and osteopathic medicine. We have the same training as MDs (medical doctors). We just have more training in linking disease with the body, spirit and soul. We have a lot more hands-on training, and we can do a lot more manipulative training in techniques in trying to help people feel better,” Ray said.
A 2009 graduate of the Oklahoma State University Center for Osteopathic Medicine, Ray chose osteopathy after taking science and medical classes and shadowing a osteopathy doctor during her freshman year.
“That’s when I first fell in love with family medicine. I was able to see how he was able to take care of his patients and have a relationship with them, and that’s when I first saw that side of Indian health from a provider standpoint,” she said.
As part of her Indian Health Services scholarship requirement, upon graduation she worked her three-year residency in family medicine at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa campus.
“We trained in Tulsa through the Hillcrest Medical Center. We were trained in family medicine, which involves treating babies all the way to elderly, as well as prenatal care and delivery of babies. By the time we are done we are good at handling basically anything that encompasses general health,” Ray said.
She then worked for the CN at the Salina AMO Health Clinic were she practiced general health for Cherokee people.
“I think it’s an honor to be able to serve as a Cherokee physician, especially as a female Cherokee physician. When you do follow your dreams you’re able to give back and help others in a unique way because it’s really a special thing that somebody trusts you to take care of them and their family, especially when it comes to their health,” she said.
After two years, her family moved to Tulsa where she worked in an Indian health facility so her husband could be closer to his job. She’s been married for 11 years and has four children.
She said a big challenge of being a physician is balancing work and family.
“Medicine can be very taxing on you personally because you have to give a lot of yourself not only mentally but emotionally when you’re helping people through difficult times in regards to their health. So it’s about finding balance and leaving work life at work and being able to spend time with your family and have time for myself as well,” she said.
Ray said her job is a reward in itself in that she is able to help people in a “unique way” than other professions allow. “People are very vulnerable and they’re trusting, and you’re able to help them sometimes in a difficult time or exciting times like when they give birth. But you’re able to be a part of that experience and help them to be healthy.”
With the changing medicine world, Ray said it’s exciting to learn about its advances. “That’s the cool thing about medicine is it’s always changing. You do have to keep up with all the new advances in medicine so that you’re providing good care. But it’s also exciting because we’re always learning.”
After working two years in Tulsa, she now works at the St. John’s Urgent Care in Sand Springs. She said she would potentially like to go back into Indian health care should her family life allow it. “I plan to stay where I’m at right now. I left the clinic in Tulsa because my current job allows me to be more flexible with my schedule and I’m home more with my children. So for now I will keep doing what I’m doing.”