Letters to the Editor  |   February 2008
Colleges of Osteopathic McMedicine?
Author Affiliations
  • Nirmalendu K. Pandeya
    A.T. Still University-Kirksville (Mo) College of Osteopathic Medicine, Des Moines (Iowa) University–College of Osteopathic, Medicine, Brigadier General (Retired), Iowa Air National Guard
    Adjunct Clinical Professor of Plastic Surgery (Retired)
Article Information
Cardiovascular Disorders / Medical Education / Neuromusculoskeletal Disorders
Letters to the Editor   |   February 2008
Colleges of Osteopathic McMedicine?
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, February 2008, Vol. 108, 89-90. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2008.108.2.89
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, February 2008, Vol. 108, 89-90. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2008.108.2.89
To the Editor: I never thought that I would live long enough to see the admirable tolerance and transparency shown recently by the American Osteopathic Association in its publications, including JAOA—The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. This is a very healthy trend, and I applaud it. 
The letter by George Mychaskiw II, DO,1 that appeared last year—drawing comparisons between problems in medical education noted by Abraham Flexner in 19102 and problems existing in osteopathic medical education today—was enlightening as well as frightening. Dr Mychaskiw certainly has done his homework, and he hit the nail on the head by pointing out the dilemmas confronting the osteopathic medical profession regarding the growth of colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs). I have always wondered about the quantity versus the quality of educators available in the mushrooming business of opening new COMs.3 
Back in the old days—or in my time, the class of 1969 at Des Moines University—College of Osteopathic Medicine in Iowa (DMU-COM)—we had only four instructors with PhD degrees teaching basic sciences. In addition, there were only six osteopathic physicians working full-time at DMUCOM. I certainly would hate to see those old days return! 
Fortunately for the progress of our profession, but unfortunately for our nostalgia, the old spots once occupied by DMU-COM and its hospital are now parking lots, and DMU-COM is now situated in a world-class medical facility. We have several bright basic scientists educating the students now, and we have several bright osteopathic physicians working full-time for the university, along with a number of adjunct clinicians who teach regularly. The students at DMU-COM are getting a high-quality education by any standard. There is also a healthy trend toward more research at DMU-COM, as I have noticed through personal observations and communications with colleagues. However, one wonders if all the new COMs will be able to attract adequate numbers of bright, qualified, young osteopathic physicians and basic scientists for their faculties. 
A critical letter like that written by Dr Mychaskiw, as well as the published responses to Dr Mychaskiw's communication,4,5 would have never appeared in AOA publications in “the good old days.” Instead, Dr Mychaskiw would have been banished forever for offering valid, constructive criticism to improve the osteopathic medical profession. I admire the tolerance and transparency demonstrated by the editors of the JAOA, and I applaud their efforts to let everyone know that there can be serious problems with opening “franchised McMedical schools” without regard to the quality of education provided to our younger generation. 
I am thankful to my profession and to my teachers, who under the worst of circumstances provided me with adequate education and training. Nevertheless, there is no denying that it was difficult for us, the students. Most of us obtained the incentive for learning by looking at the deficiencies of the osteopathic medical profession and preparing ourselves to succeed by overcoming these deficiencies. 
It is time for the osteopathic medical profession to make another leap forward by focusing on producing the best-trained osteopathic physicians who will be fully equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Our profession will be the loser if we do not tie up the existing loose ends of the COM infrastructure prior to opening new schools. 
Mychaskiw G. COM accreditation: the Flexner report revisited [letter]. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2007;107:246-247,277. Available at: Accessed December 8, 2007.
Flexner A. Medical Education in the United States and Canada. New York, NY: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; 1910. Available at: Accessed December 8, 2007.
Shannon SC. The impact of osteopathic medicine's growth on physician workforce in the US. Association of American Medical Colleges Web site. Available at: Accessed December 8, 2007.
Ajluni PB. Nonprofit and for-profit COMs: investing in the future of osteopathic medicine [letter]. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2007;107:425-426. Available at: Accessed December 8, 2007.
Martin RB. RVUCOM: Striving to meet the needs of the osteopathic medical profession [letter]. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2007;107:426-428. Available at: Accessed December 8, 2007. ♦