Free
Letters to the Editor  |   March 2011
Response
Author Affiliations
  • Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH
    President, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
Article Information
Medical Education
Letters to the Editor   |   March 2011
Response
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, March 2011, Vol. 111, 175-176. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2011.111.3.175
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, March 2011, Vol. 111, 175-176. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2011.111.3.175
Raddy L. Ramos, PhD, and colleagues have highlighted several of the issues that the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) identified in the survey analysis of the AACOM Application Service applicant pool for the class of 2014.1 The AACOM staff uses such reports—and others that are available on the Data and Trends pages of the AACOM Web site (http://www.aacom.org/data/Pages/default.aspx)—to prepare the messages that AACOM communicates to prospective and current osteopathic medical students. 
Ramos et al raise important questions about whether most of our applicants have an orientation toward osteopathic medicine, or whether they simply see osteopathic medical school as one more path to becoming a physician—a career selected by many applicants well before graduation from high school. Regardless of whether incoming osteopathic medical students are committed to osteopathic principles and practice when they enter medical school, studies have demonstrated that students are satisfied with their osteopathic medical school education and their choice to become osteopathic physicians. This conclusion is highlighted by several items in the AACOM 2008-09 Academic Year Survey of Graduating Seniors Summary Report2: 
  • Eighty-six percent of respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of their osteopathic medical training; only 4% of respondents were dissatisfied.
  • Eighty-eight percent of respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied with their osteopathic medical career selection; only 2% of respondents were dissatisfied.
  • If given the chance to start professional training again, 75% of respondents would attend an osteopathic medical school, and 60% would attend their same osteopathic medical school. Only 20% of respondents would attend an allopathic medical school, and 6% of respondents would not attend medical school.
A better understanding of the interests and motivations of our applicants guides us in our recruiting and education activities. AACOM recruitment efforts continue to raise awareness among potential students regarding the characteristics and benefits of osteopathic medicine. Evidence of the effectiveness of these efforts includes the exponential growth in the number of aspiring physicians applying to osteopathic medical school. Over the past 8 years, the number of applicants to osteopathic medical schools has doubled, and the class starting in 2011 represents the fifth consecutive year of a record high number of incoming osteopathic medical students.3,4 
The same survey used in the report1 cited by Ramos et al was administered to applicants for the class of 2015, and a report on these survey results is in preparation. Other reports available on the AACOM Web site include surveys of entering osteopathic medical students and graduating seniors regarding debt, career plans, and satisfaction with osteopathic medical education, as well as summary data on enrollment, faculty, curriculum, and operations of osteopathic medical schools. 
Meron J, Levitan T. 2009 Applicants to COCA-Accredited Osteopathic and LCME-Accredited Allopathic Medical Schools: A Survey Analysis of the 2009 AACOMAS Applicant Pool. Chevy Chase, MD: American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine; 2010. http://www.aacom.org/resources/bookstore/Documents/AppRpt2009.pdf. Accessed January 21, 2011.
Research Department, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. AACOM 2008-09 Academic Year Survey of Graduating Seniors Summary Report. Chevy Chase, MD: American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine; 2010. http://www.aacom.org/resources/bookstore/Documents/2008-09SeniorSurvey.pdf. Accessed January 24, 2011.
Applications, first-year enrollment, total enrollment and graduates by osteopathic medical school. American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medical Schools Web site. http://www.aacom.org/data/studentenrollment/Documents/Apps-Enroll-Grads-by-School-092310.pdf. Accessed February 3, 2011.
AACOMAS applicants to osteopathic medical schools (summary). American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medical Schools Web site. http://www.aacom.org/data/applicantsmatriculants/Documents/FF-Applicants-010711.pdf. Accessed February 3, 2011.