Letters to the Editor  |   January 2010
Author Affiliations
  • Thomas Duffy, MPH
    Department of Education
    Division of Education
    Trainee Services, American Osteopathic Association, Chicago, Illinois
Article Information
Medical Education / Professional Issues / Graduate Medical Education
Letters to the Editor   |   January 2010
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, January 2010, Vol. 110, 6-45. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2010.110.1.6
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, January 2010, Vol. 110, 6-45. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2010.110.1.6
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Department of Education appreciates the opportunity to offer remarks with regard to Dr Shatsky's experience and concerns about the AOA board certification process. 
The AOA has recognized some of the challenges that osteopathic physicians trained in Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) programs have experienced in achieving AOA board certification. In July 2008, the AOA Board of Trustees (BOT) established the Market Share Policy Council (MSPC) to analyze these challenges. After reviewing the ACGME training certification process, the MSPC presented final recommendations to the AOA BOT and House of Delegates Annual Business Meeting in July 2009. 
Based on the MSPC's recommendations, several changes in the board certification process have been approved by the AOA BOT and put into effect. These changes, which will assist ACGME-trained osteopathic physicians in obtaining AOA board certification, include the following: 
  • American Board of Medical Specialties–board certified DOs no longer must have completed residency training at least 5 years prior to becoming eligible for the AOA board certification process under Resolution 56 (A/2004).
  • Verification of ACGME training for AOA board eligibility has been streamlined by eliminating a step in the training approval process. Resolution 56 applications and materials will no longer be forwarded to specialty colleges and affiliates, which will not need to review and approve ACGME training. If a DO has successfully completed an ACGME program and the AOA has verified the completion status, the DO will immediately receive approval of his or her training.
The Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists (BOS) oversees the board certification work of the 18 specialty certifying boards of the AOA. The certification process is not meant to be an onerous task for candidates, but it is designed to protect the public by ensuring that the credentialing process for osteopathic physicians is reliable and defensible. It is crucial that the standards and guidelines for certification be followed consistently for all candidates and diplomates. 
At its meeting in October 2009, the Standards Review Committee of the BOS performed a review of candidate requirements for each of the boards, focusing on improving the clarity of information provided to the public. In concert with representative specialty certifying boards, the BOS established a task force to review the certification process and identify opportunities to improve efficiency. This task force held its first meeting in early December 2009, and we anticipate that a number of improvements will be presented to the BOS at its meeting in April 2010. 
In addition, the AOA BOT has launched the Educational Policy and Procedures Review Committee III, chaired by trustee Robert S. Juhasz, DO. This committee has been charged with reengineering the continuum of educational systems and processes to improve the efficiency of all AOA education procedures and processes. The committee will begin its work in January 2010. 
We sincerely appreciate comments about the certification process, such as those made by Dr Shatsky. Only through input from the candidates and others affected by the certification process can necessary changes be made.