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Letters to the Editor  |   January 2010
Measuring Awareness, Interest, and Involvement in the Osteopathic Community Through Board Certification
Author Affiliations
  • Mark L. Shatsky, DO
    Providence Medical Group, Lake Oswego, Oregon; Clinical Assistant Professor, Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, Downers Grove, Illinois; Oregon Health & Science University, Portland
Article Information
Medical Education / Professional Issues
Letters to the Editor   |   January 2010
Measuring Awareness, Interest, and Involvement in the Osteopathic Community Through Board Certification
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, January 2010, Vol. 110, 5-6. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2010.110.1.5
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, January 2010, Vol. 110, 5-6. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2010.110.1.5
To the Editor:  
I read with great interest the June medical education article by Shannon C. Scott, DO; Elizabeth M. O'Connor, DO; and Robert A. Marlow, MD, reporting results of a survey of DO residents in Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited training programs (J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2009;109:302-311). I have been a diplomate of the American Board of Family Medicine since completing an ACGME-accredited family medicine residency program in 2003. I am also eligible for certification through the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians (AOBFP) until June 2010. 
The survey respondents in the study by Dr Scott and colleagues did not include postresidency osteopathic physicians, such as myself, who trained in an ACGME-accredited program and now would like to reenter the osteopathic medical fold. I believe that a study of eligible postresidency osteopathic physicians would likely show similar barriers for attaining osteopathic certification as those reported by Scott et al, including lack of communication or understanding regarding eligibility criteria for American Osteopathic Association (AOA) board certification. 
I agree with the findings of Scott et al that the multiple steps required to attain eligibility and AOA board certification are confusing. In addition, substantial time and financial sacrifices must be made by ACGME-trained osteopathic physicians who seek AOA board certification, including paying dual dues for multiple organizations, taking additional continuing medical education, preparing for tests, and traveling to testing sites. There is a paucity of available information regarding how to go through this process, and there is no source of information regarding the professional benefits of making the change to AOA board certification. 
I have been less than encouraged in my quest for AOBFP board certification. Last year, I spoke over the telephone with an AOBFP representative who was unwilling to take the time to help me understand the certification requirements or process. In essence, I was told to send my pertinent records and an $800 check for the test to the AOBFP, and then I would be notified of eligibility. The only specific information that I received from that phone call was that I should consult the AOBFP Web site for answers to my questions. A letter that I sent to the AOA expressing my concerns regarding this interaction was dismissed with an admonishment that I just send the money and take the boards. 
Because a larger membership base may represent a greater voice for the osteopathic medical profession, I have several suggestions. Eligible ACGME-trained osteopathic physicians who are considering a change to AOA or dual board certification should be provided with transitional guidance. Such guidance should include information on the objective professional advantages for making this transition. The availability of certain provisions—such as financial relief, online testing, and eligibility extension—would make this transition more attractive. Strong consideration of these recommendations is essential for unifying the osteopathic medical profession. 
Finally, I ask the AOA and associated specialty boards to promote further discussion and research about this important topic.