Letters to the Editor  |   February 2011
Author Affiliations
  • Philip C. Slocum, DO
    Professor of Medicine, Dean, Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine-A.T. Still University of Health Sciences, Missouri
Article Information
Medical Education / Graduate Medical Education
Letters to the Editor   |   February 2011
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, February 2011, Vol. 111, 119-120. doi:
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, February 2011, Vol. 111, 119-120. doi:
Student Doctor Burmeister suggests that the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) allow osteopathic medical students to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). In fact, the AOA and AACOM do allow students to take the USMLE; they just do not allow students to substitute the USMLE for the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination-USA. 
Tangentially, Student Doctor Burmeister struck a chord regarding a basic flaw in osteopathic medical education. We in osteopathic medical education tend to treat osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) as an “add on” to the practice of osteopathic medicine. Indeed, many advocates of OMM treat it as a subspecialty, further isolating OMM from mainstream osteopathic medicine. We fail to get the faculty, staff, and students at colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs) to understand that OMM is more than manipulation and that it should be integrated into every patient interaction. 
Few lectures in medicine, surgery, or any other topic at COMs truly integrate osteopathic principles—except to take standard medical principles and stamp the “osteopathic seal of approval” on them. Even when lectures include osteopathic concepts, these concepts are too often introduced for only a few minutes at the end of a standard medical lecture just to tie OMM into the discussion. Until we solve this basic problem to the satisfaction of most members of our profession, we will continue to hear comments similar to those of Student Doctor Burmeister. In fact, those of us who are old enough remember making similar comments ourselves some 40 years ago. 
Student Doctor Burmeister should be congratulated and thanked for his willingness to share his views. We should take heed and learn what osteopathic medical students, residents, and young osteopathic physicians—who are our future—want and need in their education and training. All proper tools must be provided to the young members of our profession to allow them to not only have great careers in medicine but, more to the point, to have outstanding careers as leaders in the fastest growing segment of the medical worldosteopathic medicine.