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Letters to the Editor  |   October 2007
Nonprofit and For-Profit COMs: Investing in the Future of Osteopathic Medicine
Author Affiliations
  • Peter B. Ajluni, DO
    American Osteopathic Association Chicago, Ill
    President
Article Information
Medical Education / Graduate Medical Education
Letters to the Editor   |   October 2007
Nonprofit and For-Profit COMs: Investing in the Future of Osteopathic Medicine
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, October 2007, Vol. 107, 425-426. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2007.107.10.425
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, October 2007, Vol. 107, 425-426. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2007.107.10.425
To the Editor: I can see from the letter by George Mychaskiw II, DO,1 that he is passionate about osteopathic medicine. I, too, am passionate about our great profession. 
I am also an advocate for responsible growth of the osteopathic medical profession. To me, this means that we need to produce an adequate supply of osteopathic physicians, establish colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs) that serve their communities, create quality osteopathic graduate medical education (GME) programs around the country, and provide appropriate osteopathic continuing medical education (CME) opportunities. I am particularly proud that the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) is supporting many movements to bring medical care to rural, inner-city, and other underserved communities.2 In fact, our new COMs are opening in several such locations.3,4 In addition, the AOA is working hard to create geographically diverse GME programs and improve our CME offerings. 
Responding specifically to Dr Mychaskiw's letter,1 I caution against a priori condemnation of an institution just because of its tax status. There are many socially minded for-profit companies that contribute time, resources, and profits to their communities.5 Conversely, the US Congress is now chastising many nonprofit hospitals for not engaging in charitable missions.6 I believe it is the leadership of an organization—for-profit or nonprofit—that determines whether an institution has a larger social mission. 
That being said, I have been in contact with Ronnie B. Martin, DO, the dean of the for-profit Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine (RVUCOM) in Parker, Colo. He has assured me that for-profit institutions like RVUCOM can further the cause of osteopathic medicine in the United States. Dr Martin and other RVUCOM leaders are confident that the new school will be a positive force in its geographic region—as well as in the larger osteopathic medical community. 
Rest assured that I have no support for Caribbean and other offshore schools that do not have the accreditation status or the missions that COMs in the United States now have. And I will strongly oppose any Caribbean school setting up a “DO diploma mill.” 
As the current AOA president, I will certainly advocate only for the best for the osteopathic medical profession. I encourage AOA members to inform me of anything they believe indicates that RVUCOM—or any other COM—is not meeting its responsibility to osteopathic medicine's mission. 
Mychaskiw G. COM accreditation: the Flexner Report revisited [letter]. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2007;107:246-247,277. Available at: http://www.jaoa.org/cgi/content/full/107/7/246-b. Accessed September 11, 2007.
Rural health page. DO-Online Web site. 2007. Available at: https://www.do-online.org/index.cfm?PageID=gov_ruralhealthpi. Accessed September 11, 2007.
Medical school geared toward serving rural areas. The Oregonian [serial online]. May 2007. Available at: http://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2007/05/medical_school_geared_toward_s.html. Accessed September 11, 2007.
Vision statement page. Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine Web site. 2007. Available at: http://www.rockyvistauniversity.org/mission.asp. Accessed September 11, 2007.
Moyer L. The most charitable companies. Forbes.com [serial online]. November 2005. Available at: http://www.forbes.com/2005/11/11/charities-corporations-giving-cx_lm_1114charity.html. Accessed September 11, 2007.
Pear R. Nonprofit hospitals face scrutiny over practices. New York Times. March 19, 2006. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/19/politics/19health.html?pagewanted=print. Accessed September 24, 2007.