Letters to the Editor  |   July 2006
Hey AOA, Give Us a Break!
Author Affiliations
    US Navy (Retired) Virginia Beach, Va
Article Information
Medical Education / Pediatrics / Preventive Medicine / Graduate Medical Education
Letters to the Editor   |   July 2006
Hey AOA, Give Us a Break!
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, July 2006, Vol. 106, 377-378. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2006.106.7.377
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, July 2006, Vol. 106, 377-378. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2006.106.7.377
To the Editor: I graduated in 1974 from what was then the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, now part of the Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (MWU/CCOM) in Downers Grove, Ill. During my senior year at CCOM, I was president of the Council of Student Council Presidents (then only seven members strong). Foreseeing a time when there would be more graduates of colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs) than osteopathic internships, we recommended that the osteopathic medical profession partner with allopathic residency programs to create the needed space for COM graduates. We also suggested a way for allopathically trained osteopathic specialists to be formally recognized by the osteopathic medical profession upon completion of training; this recognition would not have required membership in the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) or large fees. 
Unfortunately, our recommendations were politely ignored by the AOA. 
I was lucky enough to match with a fine osteopathic internship program. However, I subsequently went into the armed services and took my residency in the US Navy. At the time I completed the Navy program, the American osteopathic board examination for my specialty (preventive medicine and aerospace medicine) was in its infancy and not yet approved by the Navy. Therefore, I took, passed, and was certified through the specialty board examination administered by the allopathic Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Imagine my surprise when I was then told that to gain official recognition from the osteopathic medical profession, I would have to rejoin a political organization (the AOA)—which I had previously left because I could no longer afford the dues—as well as take an additional examination! I didn't do these things then, and I still haven't. 
In light of these experiences, the letter by George Mychaskiw II, DO, in the May 2006 issue of JAOA—The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (“Will the last DO turn off the lights?” 2006;106:252–253,302) struck a chord with me. The existing AOA certifying board examination in my specialty is also considered rather easy. I, too, have associates who failed the allopathic board examination and went on to pass the osteopathic board examination with little difficulty. Why is that? Did they study harder for the osteopathic boards? Or did they pass the osteopathic boards because these examinations were not as difficult as the allopathic boards? For whatever reason, there is a perception that the osteopathic boards are easier, and this perception colors the decisions of many young medical graduates. 
My allopathic board certification should be good enough to allow me to be listed in the AOA physician directory as a specialist. More importantly, I and many other osteopathic physicians with allopathic board certifications could contribute to the osteopathic medical profession, which we love. Yet this profession appears to have rejected us. 
When I was beginning my career in the armed services, I could not afford the very large annual dues required to maintain membership in the AOA, and I could no more pay for a set of additional boards than flap my arms and fly around the building. Although I can afford the dues now, why should I rejoin a political organization that has made it very plain that it does not accept my skills or care about me or my situation? 
Give us a break, AOA! Open the doors, and a lot of osteopathic physicians with training in allopathic programs will return. Our skills will help the osteopathic medical profession, and our experience might just help the AOA. I fear that if the AOA fails to do this, our profession may not be here for its 200th anniversary. 
 Editor's note: The letter by Dr Yacavone continues a discussion that began in the Letters to the Editor section of the May 2006 issue of JAOA—The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. For a response to the letter by Dr Mychaskiw referred to by Dr Yacavone, see the letter by Michael I. Opipari, DO, in that issue (“Response.” J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2006;106:302–303. Available at: