Dr. Monica Zirolli is a physiatrist who is trained in a variety of techniques for helping her patients overcome their symptoms, improve physical function, and become free from chronic pain. Coming from a background as an osteopathic physician with additional experience in women’s health, sexual health, and physical medicine & rehabilitation, Dr. Zirolli has experience implementing methodologies such as peripheral nerve blocks, trigger point injections, osteopathic manipulative treatments, and more. Her treatment philosophy is rooted in empathy, communication, and education – not just dictating prescriptions to her patients, but making sure that they feel confident and empowered to take an active role in deciding their own course of treatment.
A graduate of Metropolitan State University of Denver with a bachelor’s degree in biology, Dr. Zirolli went on to receive her doctorate from the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine. After a preliminary year in internal medicine at Mercy Catholic Medical Center in Darby, Pennsylvania, she completed her residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Rutgers NJMS/Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. She joined the team at Pelvic Rehabilitation Medicine’s Bethesda, Maryland location in 2022. Dr. Zirolli is a member of the American Osteopathic Association, the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine.
When not working with her patients, Dr. Zirolli enjoys cooking, spending time outside, and a good craft beer.
Why did you become a physiatrist?
I discovered physical medicine and rehabilitation when I was in medical school and was attracted to the philosophy of treating the whole patient – mind, body, spirit – everything working together. I love being able to work with patients to facilitate the natural processes that allow the body to heal itself.
What is your approach to treatment?
Patient education is extremely important to me. I want to make sure that all of my patients fully understand which treatments are being used and why. Building trust is important in treating chronic pain because it’s such a game of patience and there’s often no single solution. I want all of my patients to feel like they have an active role to play in their own process of healing.
How do you define patient care?
The key word is empathy. I think it’s really important to listen to my patients and understand what has been happening with their health and what they’ve tried in the past. The healthcare system can be very difficult to navigate and there can be a barrier of distrust based on previous experiences which we as doctors need to overcome. I always aim to build rapport and help my patients understand that I have their best interests in mind.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Research and education are important, but I went into medicine to work with people and the clinical side is my favorite. I really love working with people and meeting so many different individuals from different backgrounds.
What’s something you would like people to know about pelvic health?
In the pelvic pain world, we see a lot of patients who have seen doctor after doctor and are starting to lose hope. I want them to know that things can get better. Physiatry is about function, which means we may not necessarily be able to fully cure issues but we can help people get hope and quality of life back. I also want to say that sexual health is an important part of overall health, and not something we should feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about. It’s not a throwaway thing or an asterisk, it’s an activity of daily living and a critical part of the whole person.