Letters to the Editor  |   March 2013
Article Information
Medical Education / Graduate Medical Education
Letters to the Editor   |   March 2013
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, March 2013, Vol. 113, 200-201. doi:
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, March 2013, Vol. 113, 200-201. doi:
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) is dedicated to advancing osteopathic medicine and promoting the distinctiveness of osteopathic physicians (ie, DOs). Discussions with the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) are limited to a unified graduate medical education system, including maintaining core competencies for DOs in osteopathic manipulative medicine and osteopathic principles and practice. Losing the distinctiveness of the DO degree through a unified system is contrary to the AOA's mission, vision, and purpose. 
The number of DO graduates has exceeded the number of available osteopathic graduate medical education (OGME) positions for many years.1-3 Today there are more DOs training in ACGME residencies than in AOA programs.4 The proposed unified accreditation system will preserve access to ACGME residency and fellowship training programs for DOs. It will not necessarily guarantee us more spots, but it will ensure that our DOs will continue to have the opportunity to train in allopathic programs, particularly in those specialty areas in which there are few OGME programs. With the continued growth in numbers of both DO and MD graduates, neither the AOA nor the ACGME entered into these discussions to lose training programs. 
Our goal is to continue to work with the Bureau of OGME Development and the ACGME to increase the number of osteopathic-focused training programs and to ensure that current OGME programs meet ACGME standards. 
If and when the proposed unified system goes into effect, there will be a transition phase. It is envisioned that OGME programs would undergo inspection within 3 years. Both AOA and ACGME leadership believe that the vast majority of programs will meet the requirements on the first attempt, and those that do not would have an opportunity to achieve compliance. Indeed, 30% of osteopathic internal medicine programs and half of osteopathic family medicine programs are already dually accredited.4,5 
We anticipate the specialty colleges will play an important role in the ongoing evolution of educational standards and milestones for osteopathic-focused residency programs. Furthermore, osteopathic specialty colleges will always provide valuable services, including continuing medical education, communications, professional networking, and advocacy. 
Most importantly, the AOA has always believed that osteopathic board certification measures the competence of our DO graduates, particularly with respect to the application of osteopathic principles and practice within each specialty. That is why ACGME discussions are limited to graduate medical education and do not include AOA board certification. The ACGME is aware of the AOA's position on this matter and knows that the AOA will continue to encourage all DO graduates to take AOA board certification examinations, both now and in the future. 
For the most recent updates on the proposed accreditation system, please visit 
Osteopathic Medical Profession Report 2012. Chicago, IL: American Osteopathic Association; 2012. Accessed February 14, 2013.
AOA Intern/Resident Registration Program. Summary of positions offered and filled by program type: results of the 2013 Match. National Matching Services, Inc website. Accessed February 14, 2013.
AOA Intern/Resident Registration Program. Match statistics: statistics for previous years' matches. National Matching Services, Inc website. Accessed February 14, 2013.
DeRosier A, Lischka TA. Osteopathic graduate medical education 2012. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2012;112(4):196-203.
Burkhart DN, Lischka TA. Dual and parallel postdoctoral training programs: implications for the osteopathic medical profession. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2011;111(4):247-256. [PubMed]