Origin stories

With $10,000 in prizes, AOA’s essay contest urges students to explore past

The AOA Bureau of Osteopathic History and Identity is conducting its eighth annual history essay competition.


To encourage osteopathic medical students, interns and residents to study their profession’s past struggles and achievements, the AOA Bureau of Osteopathic History and Identity is conducting its eighth annual history essay competition.

As it has done since 2006, the bureau will bestow up to three awards: a $5,000 first prize, a $3,000 second prize and a $2,000 third prize.

“This competition is about far more than monetary prizes,” observes James E. Froelich, DO, the chairman of the Bureau of Osteopathic History and Identity. “Its true reward is understanding the origins of your profession and developing a deeper sense of why DOs are such resilient and dedicated physicians.”

The deadline for the competition is Tuesday, Sept. 4. (For more specifics, see the related article titled “History Competition Details.”)

Principles at the core of the competition

The bureau is asking contestants to focus their essays on the bureau’s “Core Principles for Teaching the History of Osteopathic Medicine.” For the 2012 essay competition, the bureau has chosen five different core principles than those used in 2011. Because the bureau has 20 core principles, it is rotating them so that the competition focuses on different historical milestones each year.

The five core principles selected for the 2012 competition are as follows:

Core Principle 4—The relations between osteopathy and conventional medicine practiced in the early period of osteopathy’s growth. (Note: In developing its core principles, the bureau used the term osteopathy to refer to the profession during the period in which most DOs practiced strictly manipulative medicine.)

Core Principle 5—The comparative early practices of DOs and MDs in treating various illnesses (with special reference to the influenza pandemic of 1918-19).

Core Principle 8—The challenge of osteopathic medical schools to raise educational standards.

Core Principle 12—The reasons behind the development of the osteopathic hospital system and the importance of osteopathic hospitals in shaping osteopathic practice and identity.

Core Principle 20—The historical development of osteopathic medical education, practice, and recognition outside the United States.

For students, interns and residents who are not interested in the core principles for 2012, the history bureau has released the rotation of core principles for the next four competitions, Dr. Froelich noted. That will allow students who are interested in other principles to begin working now on essays for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Seeking quality scholarship

“By focusing on a few core principles each year, the bureau has made the competition extremely competitive,” says Dr. Froelich, DO. “Each year, the quality of composition, content and research by these fine young students and DOs amazes me, and it makes me proud of them and the profession.”

The bureau is seeking in-depth and original investigation on specific principles, Dr. Froelich stresses. The bureau hopes that contestants uncover and study long-forgotten documents, talk with surviving witnesses of earlier times, and produce essays that reveal previously unexplored aspects of the profession’s history.

“The essay was fun to prepare,” 2011 second-place essayist Aula Saloum, OMS III, told the Bureau of Osteopathic History and Identity during its Oct. 31, 2011, meeting. “I love osteopathic medicine’s history. Whenever I have the opportunity to research this great profession’s history, I find it to be amazing.”

Peer-reviewed judging

As in the past seven years, this year’s entries will undergo peer-review judging by members of the Bureau of Osteopathic History and Identity shortly after the competition’s Sept. 4 deadline.

Depending on the quality and quantity of the entries, the history bureau will award prizes to up to three authors. The winning authors will be honored during the AOA’s 117th Annual Osteopathic Medical Conference and Exposition, which will be held Oct. 7-11 in San Diego.

In addition to honoring the winners at the AOA conference, the history bureau has always encouraged all contestants to submit their essays to the AOA for consideration by JAOA—The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Of the 99 essays generated in the first seven years of the competition, eight were so good that they were published by such publications as JAOA—The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, The DO, and the American Academy of Osteopathy Journal, noted Dr. Froelich. In addition, a few recent essays are currently working their way through the JAOA’s peer-review process.

“While the AOA is not guaranteeing that the JAOA will publish essays from the history competition, just experiencing the JAOA’s peer-review process would be rewarding for authors,” promises AOA Editor in Chief Gilbert E. D’Alonzo Jr., DO.

One comment

  1. richard j. davies do

    I think these essay contests are a great way to remind all of us of the wonderful opportunities that we have or have had because of those before us who worked so hard to improve the Osteopathhc Profession and fight for our rights throughout the years. Although I am recently retired, I really enjoy all of the good information which the AOA disseminates to us informing us what’s going on in our profession. To the AOA – keep up your good work.


    Richrd J. Davies DO KCOM Class of 1967

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