University Community

For Heritage College graduates, medicine is a family business

Kenneth Keller

Kenneth “Robbie” Keller will be hooded by his father, Kenneth Keller, D.O., at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s spring 2024 commencement ceremony.

The soon-to-be graduate will continue to follow in his father’s footsteps as he begins a residency in emergency medicine at Grandview Kettering Health in Dayton, Ohio, where his parents worked and first met, and his older sister, Mackenzie Keller, D.O. (’22) is in the second year of a general surgery residency. Robbie emphasizes that his accomplishments would not be possible if not for the unwavering support of his family. 

“Family is our world, and that's one of the main reasons I chose to stay in Dayton,” he said. “My parents had excellent training when they worked at Grandview, and my sister has had excellent training so far. Grandview has a very special place in all of our hearts.”

Though his father modeled what a career as a physician would be like, Robbie ultimately made the choice to become a second generation physician on his own–both because of the opportunity for continuous learning and because he felt called to make a positive impact on patients’ lives. He said the Heritage College fostered these values in him, as well as instilled the need to incorporate emotional intelligence in his health care delivery. 

While this feature of Heritage College’s approach to medical education was a major draw for the future D.O., the University’s connection to his family also played a big role in his decision to study here. His father graduated from the college 40 years ago, in 1984, and both of Robbie’s older sisters–Alexandria Davis and Mackenzie Keller–studied here as well, with Davis set to graduate next spring.

“Seeing where our father studied, and following in his footsteps is very humbling,” said Robbie.  “We see the legacy we’re a part of, and I feel like I’m at home at HCOM.”

Robbie's experience at the Heritage College and connection to his family were further enhanced through an occupational medicine elective allowing him to work one-on-one with his dad. Working with their father professionally allowed each of the Keller kids to bond with him on a new level–even if the expectations were a bit higher. 

“My own staff commented that I was maybe a little hard on them,” recalled Kenneth, the parent-turned-preceptor, with a grin. “I just like to make sure that they know what they need to know.”

The Keller children say practicing medicine alongside their father was an unforgettable and treasured experience.

“I know it may not mean much to people outside of the medical field, but I got to hear my first heart murmur with my dad,” reminisced Davis, “and that experience means so much to me.”

When not studying for exams or working shifts at the hospital, little separation between work and life is maintained–and the Kellers like it that way. Davis, whose husband is not involved in the medical field, refers to dinners with his wife’s family as a night in “the teaching hospital,” as conversations often become intellectual discussions about medical quandaries.

Father Kenneth Keller and daughter Mackenzie Keller

Robbie’s mother, Karen Keller, N.P., also joins in on the discussion, sharing her perspective as a nurse practitioner,  a chief nurse of a surgical hospital and as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force with an executive nursing position. The youngest Keller sibling, Ben Keller, is an EMT with emergency medicine experience, giving him a stake in family debates as well.

While it may seem intense to those on the outside, the Keller family enjoys bonding over their shared passion for medicine; especially Kenneth, who feels his children are already passing him by.

“They explain things to me that I haven't read about–they're bringing me up to speed on things, which is very exciting,” said Kenneth. “I always hoped that each of them would climb higher than I have, and already I can see that that's happening. I really couldn't ask for anything more.”

As Robbie and each member of the Keller family continues to practice medicine, they feel nothing but love, support and pride from each other.

“My siblings are my best friends,” said Davis. “I can go to them with anything and know that I will have their support.”

“We're always here to uplift each other,” added Robbie, “we’re each other's biggest cheerleaders.”

April 5, 2024
Staff reports