Over the past decade, Kelly Raj, DO, has witnessed a shift in the care provided to patients through the family medicine residency program at Fairview Hospital-Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.
Since the 40-year-old program became dually accredited by the AOA and ACGME in 2008, the program’s incorporation of osteopathic training has resulted in an emphasis on whole-person care and osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). It’s a change that has benefited patients, says Dr. Raj, the program’s osteopathic medicine director.
“We have patients who strictly come into our clinic for osteopathic manipulative treatment now,” Dr. Raj says. “That wasn’t happening when I trained in this program a decade ago.”
Preparing for the transition to a single graduate medical accreditation system, the program applied for and received osteopathic recognition from the ACGME last year. “We felt strongly about applying for osteopathic recognition because we wanted to maintain our osteopathic identity,” Dr. Raj says.
Providing unified care
Maintaining an emphasis on osteopathic training has played a big role in unifying the program’s DO and MD residents, according to Dr. Raj.
Since the program became dually accredited, all of its MD residents have participated in the additional osteopathic training that DO residents receive, and osteopathic recognition underscores the importance of each resident—DO or MD—understanding the osteopathic philosophy.
By receiving osteopathic training, every MD resident who’s come through the program has learned valuable takeaways about the osteopathic approach to family medicine and the benefits of OMT, Dr. Raj says.
This helps to spread the reach of osteopathic medicine, she adds. With a greater awareness of how OMT works, MD residents are more likely to recommend it to patients.
“Our allopathic residents become more motivated to seek out OMT in their outpatient clinics,” she says. “And they often include OMT as an option in their treatment plans.”
How recognition benefits DOs
Having osteopathic recognition, and emphasizing osteopathic training, also benefits DO residents, Dr. Raj notes.
“DOs are trained that the body is a unit, with the capability to heal itself,” she says. “That notion can get lost in modern medicine. Sometimes, physicians are just writing prescriptions, and patients are even coming in expecting a prescription.”
By committing to osteopathic training and osteopathic recognition, residency programs are helping maintain the osteopathic philosophy students are taught in osteopathic medical school, according to Dr. Raj. “They’re helping maintain the integrity of osteopathic medicine in the modern era,” she says.
Dr. Raj encourages other programs to apply for osteopathic recognition, noting that many osteopathic residency programs are probably already fulfilling many of the requirements for recognition.
At any point in the application cycle, programs are also encouraged to use the AOA’s application assistance program, a free service providing access to advice from AOA staff experts and consultants who are familiar with single GME transition processes.