Osteopathic family medicine residents are crucial members of the physician population at Firelands Regional Medical Center in Sandusky, Ohio, says Eric Mast, DO, the hospital’s family medicine residency program director.
For that reason, Dr. Mast wasted no time in applying for ACGME accreditation and osteopathic recognition as soon as he learned of the transition to a single GME system. His primary goal? Making sure the heart of his program was preserved.
Dr. Mast learned in April that the 40-year-old AOA-accredited program had received initial accreditation, and his program hopes to receive osteopathic recognition in the next few months. “We want to maintain the osteopathic culture that’s such a huge part of our program,” he says.
Maintaining that culture, according to Dr. Mast, will help his program continue to recruit strong family medicine residents who provide much-needed care to the community’s underserved patient population, especially through the medical center’s outpatient family medicine clinic.
Below, Dr. Mast describes his program’s experience with the application process, including advice on seeking outside help when needed.
Incorporating osteopathic roots
“We’ve been very intentional in weaving osteopathic principles and practice into our residency program in multiple ways,” Dr. Mast says. “We have bimonthly osteopathic manipulative medicine workshops for our residents and medical students. We incorporate osteopathic journals into our journal club.”
In a single graduate medical education accreditation system, osteopathic recognition is a way for the ACGME to recognize the elements of osteopathic GME that AOA-accredited programs have historically championed, he notes.
Advice: Enlist help
The first step toward achieving initial accreditation was completing the ACGME application process. This undertaking was an “all hands on deck” project, according to Dr. Mast. He enlisted the help of his faculty members, program coordinator, the hospital’s senior leadership and the program’s Osteopathic Postdoctoral Training Institution.
“I would encourage programs to utilize all resources that are available to them,” he says. “That was advice we received early on. Getting input from others who have experience with ACGME applications was very helpful.”
Residency programs currently working on ACGME applications can seek guidance through the AOA’s new Application Assistance Program, which links program directors to AOA staff or consultants who can provide expertise on the ACGME accreditation application process.
“The ACGME application was unfamiliar territory for us and we needed clarification on the meaning behind some of the questions,” Dr. Mast says. “Working with consultants helped us gain a better understanding of what was being asked and ensured we were answering the questions properly.”