Student voices

Osteopathic recognition matters: Medical students value the ‘DO difference’

“I chose osteopathic medical school because I want to be an osteopathic physician,” says Katherine Kirby, OMS III.

Katherine Kirby, OMS III, has a plea for all osteopathic residency program directors. “In honor of my decision to pursue osteopathic medicine, please make the commitment to pursue osteopathic recognition,” urges Kirby, who attends Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Virginia Campus.

Kirby is not alone. As the five-year transition to a single accreditation system for U.S. graduate medical education reaches a critical juncture, osteopathic medical students across the country are raising their voices about the kind of training they want to pursue.

Transition timeline

Because programs must ensure training can be completed by June 30, 2020, in order to continue accepting new applicants, 4+ year residency programs will need to submit applications for ACGME accreditation by Jan. 1, 2017.

Specialties that fall into this group include anesthesiology, diagnostic radiology, emergency medicine, neurological surgery, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, otolaryngology and facial plastic surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, general surgery, and urological surgery. Combined programs that fall into this group include family medicine-emergency medicine, family medicine-NMM, internal medicine-emergency medicine, internal medicine-NMM, and internal medicine-pediatrics. View the AOA’s Opportunities database to find out if a program has applied for ACGME accreditation.

The DO difference

As programs transition to the single accreditation system, many medical students are waiting, watching and weighing their options for the future.

Last year, more than 70% of third-year osteopathic medical students surveyed by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine indicated that programs with osteopathic recognition were more appealing than ACGME-accredited programs without osteopathic recognition.

“I’m looking for a residency program that’s at least pursuing osteopathic recognition,” says Jordan Hitchens, OMS IV, who attends the Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine. “Students want to maintain the connection they’ve had with the osteopathic profession, and the next step for them is residency.”

Charles Lopresto, OMS III, has been training at Southampton (NY) Hospital while he completes coursework at TouroCOM-Harlem. “I went to an osteopathic medical school and I want to continue to practice that way,” he says.

That DO difference is something Hitchens also values in a training program. “To go from a medical school that focused on osteopathic principles and practice to a residency that doesn’t encourage those things isn’t something I think a lot of students want,” Hitchens says. “They want that osteopathic approach.”

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