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MSUCOM pilot program targets Canadian students for training

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Shown with most of the other Canadian osteopathic medical students in the pilot program at MSUCOM, Chris Jacob, OMS I (fourth from left), decided to become a U.S.-trained DO after shadowing an osteopathic physician in Ontario. (Photo courtesy of MSUCOM)

As a premedical student at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, Chris Jacob, OMS I, had the chance to shadow emergency physician David Fiddler, DO, at Minden (Ontario) Hospital. “I learned about osteopathic principles and practice from Dr. Fiddler and decided that the philosophy and the profession’s focus on primary care matched my own views toward medicine and career goals,” he says.

This fall, Jacob and 13 other students from Ontario and one from Manitoba enrolled in a new program at the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM) in East Lansing that will train up to 25 Canadian students per year to become DOs. While other osteopathic medical schools are recruiting Canadian students, the program at MSUCOM is the largest, Dr. Fiddler says.

Although osteopathic physicians have full practice rights across Canada, only 20 or so U.S.-trained DOs practice in the country, notes Dr. Fiddler, the vice president of the Canadian Osteopathic Association (COA). In partnership with the COA, MSUCOM aims to increase the number of osteopathic physicians in Canada.

“This program is the outcome of four years of work to help Canada get its own osteopathic medical school,” says William D. Strampel, DO, MSUCOM’s dean. “However, it would take a long time to establish a new school, and there were concerns about clinical education in a country with so few osteopathic physicians. So we decided to create a pilot program here at MSU, with graduates returning to Canada, to build the osteopathic medical profession over there.”

After more DOs start practicing in Canada, it will become easier to establish an osteopathic medical school in the country, anticipates Dr. Fiddler, who is the president of the five-member Ontario Osteopathic Medical Association.

Estimating that at least 50 Canadians are currently first-year students in U.S. osteopathic medical schools, the COA has just launched the Canadian Osteopathic Medical Student Organization (or COMSO). The organization hopes to make osteopathic medical education more accessible to Canadians.

To practice osteopathic medicine in Canada, a DO must serve a residency that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. MSUCOM’s Canadian graduates will be able to train in either the U.S. or Canada, according to Dr. Fiddler.