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Karen J. Nichols, DO, receives AOA’s highest honor

Dr. Nichols, the dean of MWU/CCOM and the AOA’s first female president, was honored for her leadership in the osteopathic medical profession.


Karen J. Nichols, DO, the AOA’s 2010-2011 president, was awarded the AOA’s Distinguished Service Certificate for her leadership in the osteopathic medical profession at a ceremony during OMED 2015 in Orlando, Florida.

Dr. Nichols, a board-certified internal medicine physician, is the dean of the Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (MWU/CCOM) in Downers Grove, Illinois, a position she has held since 2002. In addition to her work in osteopathic medical education, Dr. Nichols has been a pioneer for women in the profession. In 2010, she became the first woman to be elected president of the AOA.

“As the AOA’s first female president and a tireless advocate for osteopathic medical education, Dr. Nichols has played a critical role in advancing the osteopathic profession,” says AOA President John W. Becher, DO.

Dr. Nichols was also the first woman to lead the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association and the American College of Osteopathic Internists.

“Dr. Nichols is a mentor to many women in the osteopathic profession,” says Alissa P. Craft, DO, the AOA’s vice president of accreditation. “Once, when I was worried about balancing multiple roles, Dr. Nichols said to me, ‘Just make sure you honor the role you are serving at that given time. If you always conduct yourself honorably, it will all work out.’”

Before becoming dean of MWU/CCOM, Dr. Nichols was assistant dean for postdoctoral education at Midwestern University/Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine (MWU/AZCOM) in Glendale. Previously, she practiced internal medicine and geriatrics for 17 years at Mesa General Hospital in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Dr. Nichols is currently one of four DOs serving on the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Board of Directors, which is guiding the transition to a single graduate medical education accreditation system. She’s also a member of the AOA President’s Advisory Council, which is part of the AOA Board of Trustees.

One comment

  1. Elva Keilers

    Karen, I do not know anyone more deserving than you to receive this reward. Mary Burnett must be smiling somewhere. I am proud to be counted among your friends and colleagues!

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