Big plans

Raising international awareness of DOs will be a team effort

Learn more about the AOA’s new international affairs department, including how it plans to raise the global profile of osteopathic medicine.

With the goal of increasing the impact of osteopathic medicine within the global health community, the AOA has formed a new department focused on international affairs.

“I’m excited about the prospect of building relationships with our international partners and affiliates,” says Amy Byerwalter, the AOA’s new associate vice president of international affairs. “We look forward to creating opportunities for DOs to influence medicine on a global level.”

Team approach

Byerwalter comes to the AOA with more than 15 years of international work experience, including more than a decade spent in Kenya, where she served as director of management and operations for the U.S. Peace Corps program. Her team, which will be led by the AOA’s General Counsel, Josh Prober, JD, also includes consultants Alan Schalscha, DO, and Simon Fielding, OBE DO, as well as Sophia Newman, a program specialist.

International impact is one of the main priorities of the AOA’s 2017-2019 strategic plan, and it has long been an interest of AOA President Boyd R. Buser, DO, who is one of the founding members of the Osteopathic International Alliance.

“Forming a top-notch team dedicated to our international activities is a key first step toward the AOA’s goal of raising international awareness of osteopathic medicine by 100% over the next 10 years,” Dr. Buser says. “The team is already hard at work developing recommendations that will help us achieve that goal.”

Plan of action

The new department has identified five preliminary focus areas and will also continue supporting the OIA, the Bureau of International Osteopathic Medicine and DOCARE. The focus areas include:

  1. Expanding licensure and practice rights for U.S.-educated and trained DOs. Over the past several decades, DOs have received practice rights in 65 countries. To expand opportunities for DOs, the AOA will work on educating foreign health officials about the U.S. model of osteopathic medicine in order to gain recognition for DOs who want to practice abroad.
  2. Building strategic partnerships with key global health groups such as the World Health Organization. The AOA plans to focus on partnerships that may help elevate the profile of the U.S. model of osteopathic medicine, Byerwalter says.
  3. Supporting international medical missions.
  4. Sharing data, research and other resources with the international osteopathic community.
  5. Exploring establishment of an international U.S.-model college of osteopathic medicine. Though this is not likely to happen in the next 12 months, some countries have expressed interest in establishing an accredited college of osteopathic medicine based on the U.S. model. The AOA will evaluate the potential of each proposal carefully, Byerwalter says.

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