Letters to the Editor  |   April 2010
Article Information
Medical Education / Neuromusculoskeletal Disorders / Graduate Medical Education
Letters to the Editor   |   April 2010
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, April 2010, Vol. 110, 247-248. doi:
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, April 2010, Vol. 110, 247-248. doi:
To the Editor:  
In his letter to the editor published in the December 2009 issue of JAOA—The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (2009;109[12]:654-655), Carl Hoegerl, DO, MSc, asserts that the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is arrogant and discriminatory. As a member of the AAN for 39 years, I would like to come to some defense of that organization. 
The AAN is indeed discriminatory, and that is part of its purpose. The AAN is a professional organization that creates its own rules of membership. A candidate must have served in an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited residency program to become an active member or a fellow member in the AAN. An osteopathic physician who has trained in an American Osteopathic Association (AOA)-approved residency program can belong to the AAN as an associate member. A number of allopathic physicians who either did not pass the allopathic board examinations or chose not to take them are in the same associate member category in the AAN. 
To me, Dr Hoegerl's demand that the AAN accept his osteopathic neurology board certification is analogous to a bishop in the Episcopal Church claiming that he should be entitled to be a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church if he changed denominations. Any organization has the right to set its own rules. It is as simple as that. The AAN is under no obligation to honor Dr Hoegerl's osteopathic neurology board certification, and Dr Hoegerl is not entitled to a class of membership reserved for individuals who took and passed the allopathic neurology board examinations. 
I was in the first wave of DOs who chose to train in an ACGME-accredited residency program in neurology. I joined the AAN as a junior member in 1971. At that time, only a handful of DOs were members of the AAN. When I was certified by the allopathic neurology board in 1975, I automatically became an active member of the AAN. I was elected a fellow in 1986, making me one of the first DOs—if not the first—to achieve this membership rank. I was very proud of that accomplishment. At no time have I ever felt discriminated against by the AAN. 
When an early DO mentor asked me to take the osteopathic neurology board examinations as a favor to him, the AOA did not automatically certify me just because I was previously certified by the allopathic neurology board. Thus, I had to take the osteopathic board examinations. 
I should add that at every possible point during and after my allopathic residency training, the AOA and the osteopathic neurology board were obstructionist regarding my training—such as by insisting that I quit all allopathic professional organizations before being eligible to take the osteopathic examinations. The AOA also insisted on conducting it's own accreditation review of the residency program at Wayne State University, at my expense, even though the program was already accredited by the ACGME. I found such actions to be not only obstructionist but also demeaning and embarrassing. 
I am proud of the exclusivity of membership and of the category of fellow in the AAN. Membership means more to me because of this exclusivity, and I feel that my membership would be diminished if the AAN allowed candidates who passed alternate board examinations to be co-equal members.