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OSU Center for Health Sciences honors Chickasaw graduate Dr. Tyler Watson

 

Dr. Tyler Watson

TULSA – Tyler Watson, originally from Oklahoma City, received accolades for earning his doctorate in osteopathic medicine during an American Indian Honoring Ceremony. Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby spoke during the May 6 event on the Oklahoma State University (OSU)-Tulsa campus of the OSU Center for Health Sciences.

"You have put in the work, and your education has prepared you to make the most of this time. We want you to walk with confidence knowing this is your time, and we expect you to make a profound and lasting difference in the world. The Chickasaw Nation is proud of you, and we look forward to seeing all the amazing things you will do in the future," Governor Anoatubby said. Dr. Watson was among 10 First American graduates earning a doctorate in osteopathic medicine from OSU Center for Health Sciences who were honored by their respective tribal leaders and university officials.

During the ceremony, Chickasaw Nation Department of Health Secretary Dr. Charles Grim presented Dr. Watson with a doctorate stole. The prestigious stole was given to 20 Chickasaw students who graduated from doctoral programs across the country this year.

"This beautiful stole represents the Chickasaw Nation's dedication to academic excellence and education. Like many tribes here, it is very important to us. It represents the character, core values, culture and traditions of the Chickasaw Nation. It is a symbol of the type of success that comes with a strong work ethic, compassion for serving others and a strong Chickasaw warrior spirit," Dr. Grim said.

With years of work behind him, Dr. Watson now officially takes on the title of doctor – a doctor of osteopathic medicine or D.O.

However, the strangeness of the title has not yet worn off.

"Honestly, it feels unreal. To be finally graduating as a doctor and healer is incomprehensible," Dr. Watson said. "For the past two years, people have been accidentally calling me 'Dr. Watson.' But all that time, I've been mentally dismissing the concept."

Reaching this particular educational and professional peak was an accomplishment Dr. Watson had his eyes on since childhood. At 7 years old, watching the Disney animated film "Treasure Planet," the character Dr. Delbert Doppler inspired him to one day become a doctor.

Dr. Watson's parents, Jamie and Cindy Watson, reared him in Oklahoma City, where he attended high school at Putnam City North.

One of the first major steps toward his professional ambitions occurred in high school, when he enrolled in the Biosciences and Medicine Academy at Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City.

After a year of study, other fields would end up drawing his interest. This was a decisive moment for Dr. Watson. He decided to open his Bible for guidance.

Though he does not remember the exact passage the book opened to, he recalls the scripture clearly applying to the human body. It was Dr. Watson's sign to stay his course.

"My faith is the bedrock on which I base all my life decisions for this journey. The drive to passionately serve my Redeemer overflows into all areas of my life," Dr. Watson said. "The awe and respect I have for the human body created in His image causes me to strive for excellence in my work."

Dr. Watson finds himself at a place where science and faith meet. He said it has led him to uncover deeper truths.

"Finding how my faith and career complement each other has provided what I think is a better understanding of both aspects in my life, and I am grateful for having been on that journey," he said.

His First American heritage also informed Dr. Watson's journey.

"Being Chickasaw has taught me about being part of a greater community and giving a stronger sense of a greater family," Dr. Watson said. "I've had a pretty small family most of my life, but knowing I am part of a larger community that has my back has given me confidence to pursue dreams I wouldn't always have the strength to."

In a direct way, being Chickasaw has also influenced Dr. Watson's practice. He said becoming a physician while being Chickasaw offered a unique vantage point and insight into tribal health and the problems commonly faced specifically by First Americans.

Included in his medical school training was a rotation at Chickasaw Nation Medical Center family medicine residency, Ada, in the fall of 2020.

"It was a good experience. I really enjoyed my time there," he said.

Dr. Watson credits the Chickasaw Nation for the strong support to help him achieve a lifelong goal of earning his doctorate in osteopathic medicine.

During his prestigious academic career, Dr. Watson has published numerous journal articles and delivered nearly a dozen presentations on important medical subjects.

At the undergraduate and master's levels, Dr. Watson focused on nicotine and tobacco use. At a doctorate level, his research revolved around osteopathic medicine.

"One takeaway from all my research is understanding medicine-and life in general-as art informed by science. I think a common misconception is that medical and life decisions are strictly scientific in basis, but that completely ignores the human factor," Dr. Watson said.

As an example, he pointed out how science can tell us the effects of tobacco use or the effectiveness of treatments, but he said it cannot tell us what decisions will make a person's life more fulfilling or which decisions best align with their values.

"Understanding both sides is important for providing good medical care and making fulfilling decisions," he said.

As a doctor of osteopathic medicine, Dr. Watson maintains a philosophy of caring for the whole person, rather than simply treating problems. D.O.'s practice in all medical specialties to help patients get healthy and stay well. Their goal is to offer patients the most comprehensive care available.

His favorite form of healing, osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), involves direct touch. With their thorough understanding of the interconnected systems of the body, a D.O. can offer hands-on solutions to issues like muscle pain, migraines and carpal tunnel.

It was while shadowing Dr. Barry Rodgers when Dr. Watson became aware of this method.

"Watching Dr. Rodgers use his hands to help people feel and become better was magical to me. OMT is still my favorite aspect of osteopathic medicine. I love practicing it on patients, and I plan to incorporate it deeply into my practice," he said.

As his guiding light as a practicing doctor, Dr. Watson points to a Latin phrase "Soli Deo Gloria," or "to the glory of God alone." He said it reflects 1 Corinthians 10:31: "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all things for the glory of God."

With graduation behind him, Dr. Watson plans to join a family medicine residency in Jefferson City, Missouri. His wife, Ashley, who also earned a doctorate in osteopathic medicine from the OSU Center for Health Sciences this year, will join him.

The couple's long-term goal is to establish a family medicine practice together. Between now and then, they will complete three years of residency.

 

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