History essay contest: Students, interns and residents can win up to $5,000
Laura M. Jordan, OMS III, the winner of last year's history essay contest, accepts her award from Michael A. Seffinger, DO (left), and AOA Trustee Thomas L. Ely, DO. Jordan attends the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine-Bradenton in Florida. (Photo by Michael Fitzgerald)
To encourage osteopathic medical students, interns and residents to study their profession’s past struggles and achievements, the AOA is conducting its ninth annual history essay competition.
“Osteopathic medicine is at another historical tipping point,” says AOA Editor in Chief Robert Orenstein, DO. “Our professional schools are expanding, our postgraduate opportunities are growing, and osteopathic medicine has the opportunity to lead the changes for the future of health care. The history of osteopathic medicine is one of both revolution and evolution. Its understanding is the roadmap to our future.”
Learn from past essays
Familiarize yourself with the makeup of an award-winning essay by reading these published examples.
- “Thanks, But No Thanks: How Denial of Osteopathic Service in World War I and World War II Shaped the Profession” by Shawn Silver, OMS I, published in the The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA), won first place in 2011.
- “ ‘Whatever You Are, Be a Good One’: Osteopathic Identity, Equality, and the California Merger” by Hayley W. Ryan, OMS IV, published in the JAOA, won first place in 2010.
- “There Are More Things in Heaven and Earth … ” by 2010 graduate Leslie Mae-Geen Ching, DO, published in the American Academy of Osteopathy’s AAO Journal, won first place in 2008.
- “Unit 2: Osteopathic Medicine’s Experiment at Los Angeles County General Hospital” by 2009 graduate Kim Armenta, DO, published in The DO, was one of two second-place winners in 2008.
- “Transcendence of Geopolitical Borders: How Osteopathic Education Developed in the United Kingdom” by 2009 graduate Dustin Colegrove, DO, published in The DO, was the other second-place winner in the 2008 competition.
- “Distinctions Between Osteopathic and Allopathic Medicine Create Competition That Drives Advancements” by 2009 graduate Rhett Papa, DO, published in The DO, won first place in 2006.
- “From Pulp Paper to Laptop Computer: A Reflection on Fundamental Osteopathic Principles” by 2007 graduate Dana M. Block-Abraham, DO, published in The DO, took third place in 2006.
As it has done since 2006, the AOA will provide awards for up to three winners: a $5,000 first prize, a $3,000 second prize and a $2,000 third prize.
The deadline for the competition is Monday, Aug. 4. In drafting their essays, contestants should follow the instructions for “Special Communication” articles found in the “Information for Authors” guidelines of The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA).
The maximum essay length is 3,000 words. The word count should be noted at the beginning of the essay, as should the core principle that the essay addresses. In addition, essays should be submitted as Microsoft Word documents, using 12-point Times New Roman font.
In early June, contestants will be able to submit their essays through an online submission system, which will be available on osteopathic.org. Contestants with questions can call (800) 621-1773, ext. 8166 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contestants should focus their essays on the “Core Principles for Teaching the History of Osteopathic Medicine.” Of the 20 core principles, the 2014 essay competition will focus on five. Featured core principles are rotated annually so that the competition emphasizes different historical milestones each year.
The five core principles for the 2014 competition are as follows:
- Core Principle 6: The struggle for defining osteopathy’s scope of practice and the respective intellectual positions of those who favored broad and narrow scopes of practice. (Note: In developing the core principles, the AOA used the term osteopathy to refer to the profession during the period in which most DOs practiced strictly manipulative medicine.)
- Core Principle 7: The eventual transformation of osteopathy into osteopathic medicine.
- Core Principle 9: The political efforts of DOs to obtain equal licensure provisions and equal treatment with MDs under the law.
- Core Principle 14: The U.S. Department of Education’s and the former Council on Postsecondary Accreditation’s decisions to recognize AOA accreditation of medical colleges.
- Core Principle 16: The factors leading to and the consequences of DOs being admitted to the uniformed services as physicians and surgeons.
Advice for essayists
The AOA is seeking in-depth and original investigation on specific principles.
Contestants are encouraged to seek out faculty members with publishing experience to advise them on their essays. They are also encouraged to uncover and study long-forgotten documents and talk with witnesses who remember the past.
In addition, though contestants will be writing about just one core principle, they should narrow their topic within that principle. Contestants can increase their chances of writing truly scholarly works if they concentrate on one or two aspects of a principle rather than every aspect of it.
“The essay competition is a great training ground for developing the tools of scholarly publication,” says Dr. Orenstein. “It will require a hypothesis, a methodology to review the historical evidence, an analysis of the findings and a commentary on the limitations and implications for the future.”
Last year’s winners
The 2013 winners of the AOA’s History Essay Competition wrote about diverse topics such as international recognition of osteopathic medicine and osteopathic distinctiveness.
- Laura M. Jordan, OMS III, of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine-Bradenton (LECOM) in Florida, took first place. She received a $5,000 prize for her essay, “Battling Diploma Mills: The Early Fight to Preserve the Osteopathic Principles of A.T. Still.” Jordan used her essay to look at Core Principle 2: “The fundamental principles and philosophies that underlay the early practice of osteopathy.”
- Nicholas Charles Madaffer, DO, a resident at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, received the $3,000 second-place prize. In his essay, “The Paradox of Osteopathy in the 21st Century,” Madaffer explored Core Principle 19: “The role of ‘distinctiveness’ in the current practice of osteopathic medicine with respect to defining the rationale for organizational independence.”
- Rachel L. Gougian, OMS II, of Georgia Campus-Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Suwanee, earned the third-place $2,000 prize with her essay, “Gray Zone: Why a Delayed Acceptance of Osteopathic Medicine Persists in the International Community.” Gougian focused on Core Principle 17: “The increasing recognition of the osteopathic medical profession by state and national governmental agencies.”
Laura Jordan, OMS III, winner of the 2013 history essay competition, advises this year’s contestants: “Find a topic that is exciting to you and immerse yourself in it, and identify a faculty mentor with a history of publications who can guide you through this process. Also, do not underestimate the amount of time it takes to research and write the essay. Start early so that you have time for thorough research and revisions.”
Profession’s dynamic history
The essay competition was launched in 2006 by the AOA Bureau of Osteopathic History and Identity (which was dissolved in 2012) with the belief “that in researching and writing about the social, economic and political challenges our DO forefathers faced and overcame, students and others would develop a deep and career-long connection to the osteopathic medical profession,” explains James E. Froelich, DO, the former chairman.
Essay writers should keep in mind the following passage from the preamble to the core principles: “Students will come to appreciate the history of the osteopathic medical profession from understanding the social, economic, cultural, political, and medical forces and contexts that have shaped the profession’s development. … It is not dry facts that students should be learning. Rather, they need to understand dynamic historical processes and grasp the living, breathing, evolving phenomenon that is osteopathic medicine.”
The preamble reinforces the AOA’s goal of fostering a greater sense among essayists of what it means to be DOs and a greater appreciation for why the profession should remain both distinct and united.
This year’s entries will undergo peer-review judging by the AOA editor in chief, JAOA associate editors and JAOA Editorial Advisory Board members after the competition’s Aug. 4 deadline.
Depending on the quality and quantity of the entries, the AOA will award prizes to up to three authors. The winning authors will be honored during OMED 2014, which will be held Oct. 25-29 in Seattle.
Correction: This article has been updated to note that the essay contest is the ninth annual, not the eighth.