Road toward unification

Allopathic GME programs seek to attract DO candidates by obtaining osteopathic recognition

Two MDs and a DO who lead ACGME-accredited residency programs discuss the value of incorporating osteopathic principles.


Joseph D’Ambrosio, MD, DMD, runs an MD residency program that was one of the first to obtain osteopathic recognition from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The four-year internal medicine and pediatrics program, located at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine in Kalamazoo, currently comprises eight DOs and nine MDs.

Dr. D’Ambrosio says helping his current and future residents maintain their osteopathic identity is a top priority. “Osteopathic recognition is one way we can ensure that applicants see we are committed to osteopathic principles,” he says.

Impressed with the osteopathic philosophy of treating the whole patient, Dr. D’Ambrosio notes that the American house of medicine is transitioning toward a more holistic approach that parallels osteopathic medicine. For this reason, he sees real value in DOs and MDs training side by side.

Joseph D’Ambrosio, MD, DMD (left), works with his former resident Olga Goodman, MD. Dr. D'Ambrosio's residency program recently obtained osteopathic recognition.

“It’s important that we look upon the body as a whole, and that’s what osteopathic medicine has done since its inception,” he says. “I think joint training is good because we need to communicate to all our physicians how vital it is to treat the whole patient.”

About osteopathic recognition

Osteopathic recognition is an added qualification residency programs can obtain from the ACGME to demonstrate that they offer residents osteopathic training and that they follow the training guidelines outlined by the ACGME’s Osteopathic Principles Committee.

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As the ACGME, the AOA and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine move toward a single system of graduate medical education accreditation, osteopathic recognition will help medical students assess how potential programs have incorporated osteopathic principles into their training curriculum.

The ACGME began awarding osteopathic recognition to programs in the fall, and 18 programs obtained it as of Nov. 18.

Why programs want it

Although it has never trained a DO resident, the internal medicine residency program at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, Illinois, recently obtained osteopathic recognition. Program director Sajan Thomas, MD, is actively seeking DOs for his program because he’s interested in diversifying his resident population.

“If we have both allopathic and osteopathic residents, we will have more residents from different backgrounds,” he says. “We’d also like to learn more about osteopathic medicine, and we’re hoping that bringing DOs on will benefit our patients as well.”

Mark Robinson, DO, an associate program director for the dually accredited family medicine residency at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, hopes osteopathic recognition will help his program continue to attract high-quality DO candidates.

“We are definitely talking to applicants about it during interviews,” he says. “Having osteopathic recognition really shows our dedication to maintaining osteopathic family medicine training.”

Dr. D’Ambrosio hopes obtaining osteopathic recognition will lead to the MDs in his program learning more about osteopathic medicine. Specifically, he points to the prescription pain medication epidemic as evidence that physicians need to be aware of alternatives to pharmaceuticals, including osteopathic manipulative treatment.

“Many times, I’ve seen manipulation help reduce pain,” he says. “In the future, I hope our MD residents will also consider manipulation as a possible tool they can use to take care of their patients.”


  1. Jeffrey SCHOCK

    This is impressive but I believe this is all smoke and mirrors. I am a DO train board-certified urologist practicing with the third largest urology group private practice in the United States. We have both MDs and DOs in our 50 person urology group. We have a very high-volume osteopathic urology residency program where my partner has to step aside as program director into thousand 17 because he’s not an M.D. This is because the allopathic urology counterpart refuses to except dual certification at the ACGME level. The AOA has done absolutely nothing to help us or returned any of our emails. As a loyal osteopathic physician this is extremely frustrating that we’ve been sold out as a loyal osteopathic physician this is extremely frustrating that we’ve been sold out

  2. Joseph

    Who cares? The AOA and ACGME are going to merge soon and this whole business of being dual accredited won’t matter anymore.

    And this propaganda that DOs are “different” somehow needs to stop. We don’t treat the patient any differently than MDs and the overwhelming majority of DO physicians don’t even think of OMM the second they graduate from medical school. Differences you may claim to see are simply from your own biases.

  3. Mark Rosen, DO

    If MD residencies are capable of receiving “osteopathic recognition” by simply filing out a form, without any experience with osteopathic principles or practice, does “osteopathic recognition” have any real value?

  4. Dave DO

    Well the concept of osteopathic recognition isn’t a Loring one, the actual implementation is far from beneficial. There is no additional credential or any benefit at all to osteopathic residents of an osteopathic we recognize program. This is nothing more than a marketing stunt unless the airway decides to put some to you. Having interviewed a variety of airway programs that claim to be applying for osteopathic recognition, it is apparent that osteopathic recognition does not require the actual implementation of OMM or osteopathic principles in the residency program. It only requires a few OMN lectures throughout the year. Kind of like being a Sunday Catholic.

  5. Dawn Dillinger, DO

    Mark Rosen, DO said it correctly. It shouldn’t be termed “easy” for an MD program to get osteopathic certified. We are not giving ourselves, as DOs, enough credit. I find it curious that an MD program had an easy time getting osteopathic certification, but so many of our osteopathic programs are having a hard time getting ACGME certified. The ACGME doesn’t want our advice and they don’t want to incorporate any of our ideas. They want all DOs to bend to their will and do it their way, or else they won’t credential us. And, the AOA really isn’t helping us. They tell us to be patient and hope that ACGME accepts us. Why? We have been well trained physicians long before we needed ACGME approval. Stand up for the DOs!

  6. jef g

    Osteopathic recognition in name is just that, a name and nothing else. True osteopathic recognition will come from what any program with the title truly does. As an assistant director and Osteopathic director of a FP dually accredited program I can tell you there are still programs that seek to truly teach osteopathy. Ours is one of them (and 1 of the first 18 to gain Osteopathic Recognition). Students applying for residency recognize the difference he have from others who have recognition in name only. It is promising that there are more students seeking a program like ours than I previously thought.

    I don’t believe all the doom and gloom. A good osteopath will always be recognized as a good osteopath by his peers and patients.

  7. Adil Hussain

    As a DO resident in an MD residency, how can I go about getting my residency to have osteopathic recognition?

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