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Letters to the Editor  |   May 2006
Progressive Idea for Osteopathic Medical Education
Author Affiliations
  • DANIEL H. BELSKY, DO, MSc
    Boca Raton, Fla
Article Information
Medical Education
Letters to the Editor   |   May 2006
Progressive Idea for Osteopathic Medical Education
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, May 2006, Vol. 106, 303-304. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2006.106.5.303
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, May 2006, Vol. 106, 303-304. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2006.106.5.303
To the Editor:  
The most explosive thing in the world is an idea. I have an idea that the osteopathic medical profession should offer its services to the impoverished and other underserved members of the public on a national level via changes in the profession's education system. 
I propose that osteopathic medical schools accept qualified students after only 2 years of college, provided that the students have fulfilled all of their premedical curriculum requirements. There is precedence for such a proposal in schools of medicine and dentistry.13 Indeed, there are a number of models in which undergraduate colleges and medical schools combine their efforts to offer a 6-year course of study for a graduate degree.13 
It is my opinion that premedical college students go to undergraduate college primarily to get into medical school, a liberal arts education being their secondary purpose. Furthermore, medical school admissions committees rely heavily on applicants' science grade point averages—not on grades in such subjects as English, history, and philosophy. 
I propose that after completing the new 6-year osteopathic medical curriculum, a student serves an additional year in an impoverished or other under-served area of the United States (eg, a rural, remote, or inner-city community) prior to receiving a degree in osteopathic medicine. Close collaboration with federal and state agencies would be required to identify the most important communities in need. 
Not only would this “service year of training” provide healthcare to under-served communities in the United States, it would also save students 2 years of undergraduate college tuition. During the service year, students could receive salaries from the hospitals or clinics to which they are assigned. These programs might be modeled after traditional internships or family medicine residencies, being individually designed for the specific needs of the community being served. The American Osteopathic Association could establish such programs through existing mechanisms within its Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation and its Council on Postdoctoral Training. 
These proposed programs would be unique in that they would signify an entire profession making a commitment of service to the country. Osteopathic medical students would be afforded opportunities to offer much-needed services early in their training years. This experience may foster understanding and compassion for the less privileged of our country and encourage these students to develop the noncognitive skills that are sorely lacking in many health-care professionals. It could only be a “win-win” situation for our country and our profession. 
I fully realize that accepting and implementing this proposal would be a bold move on the part of the osteopathic medical profession. I also know that we would need to address various questions and problems, such as issues involving affiliation agreements, curriculum development, facility identification, faculty placement, and funding. Nevertheless, all progress starts with an idea. Let's start the explosion! 
 Editor's note: Dr Belsky is former chairman of the American Osteopathic Association's Committee on Osteopathic Postdoctoral Training (1986–1992), former president of the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists (1977–1978), and former professor and chairman of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford.
 
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Joint programs. Available at: http://lifesci.rutgers.edu/~hpo/BAMD.htm. Accessed April 5, 2006.
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School. Special degree programs. Available at: http:www.med.uth.tmc.edu/admissions/combined%20degrees.htm. Accessed April 5, 2006.
University of California at Irvine. MD/MBA joint degree program. Available at: http://www.ucihs.uci.edu/com/mdmba/introduction/introduction.htm. Accessed April 5, 2006.