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Letters to the Editor  |   March 2013
A Single, Unified Graduate Medical Education Accreditation System
Author Affiliations
  • Richard Terry, DO, MBA
    Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Erie, Pennsylvania; ArnotHealth, St. Joseph's Hospital, Elmira, New York
Article Information
Medical Education / Graduate Medical Education
Letters to the Editor   |   March 2013
A Single, Unified Graduate Medical Education Accreditation System
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, March 2013, Vol. 113, 199. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2013.113.3.199
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, March 2013, Vol. 113, 199. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2013.113.3.199
To the Editor: 
In October 2012, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), together with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, announced the proposed unification of osteopathic and allopathic graduate medical education (GME) program accreditation.1 Some have touted this change as “saving” the profession. However, I fear this merger will cause irreparable harm and will ultimately destroy the osteopathic medical profession for the following reasons:
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    I believe many osteopathic GME programs (quality programs) may not meet all of the ACGME standards and will close. We can ill afford to lose even 1 osteopathic GME spot.
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    It is my understanding that a number of AOA-accredited teaching hospitals cannot fiscally support ACGME-accredited programs, but they are able to support AOA-accredited programs.
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    I believe that starting new programs with ACGME standards will prove more difficult and that fewer programs will be created, especially in non–primary care specialties.
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    Accepting MD graduates into AOA-accredited programs takes potential spots from DO graduates.
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    Osteopathic GME offers an osteopathic perspective that makes DOs distinctive, and I believe this distinctiveness will be completely lost if the unified GME accreditation system comes to fruition.
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    It is my understanding that ACGME-accredited programs do not guarantee more spots for DO graduates (many ACGME programs currently limit the number of DOs or do not accept DOs altogether).2
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    Accreditation of our programs by the ACGME negates the need for AOA specialty certification, and I believe it will cause a “death spiral” for osteopathic specialty colleges and will ultimately destroy allegiance to the AOA.
It is sadly ironic that the osteopathic medical profession fights vigorously to maintain the DO degree in Texas, yet it is ready to relinquish control of osteopathic GME accreditation to the ACGME. 
References
MDs and DOs moving toward a single, unified accreditation system for graduate medical education [news release]. Chicago, IL: American Osteopathic Association; October 24 , 2012. http://www.osteopathic.org/inside-aoa/news-and-publications/media-center/2012-news-releases/Pages/10-24-MDs-and-DOs-moving-toward-single-accreditation-system-for-graduate-medical-education.aspx. Accessed November 6, 2012.
Terry R, Hill F. Analysis of AOA/ACGME accredited family medicine residency programs. Fam Med. 2011;43(6):387-391. http://www.stfm.org/fmhub/fm2011/June/Richard387.pdf. Accessed February 7, 2012.