Building for the future

ACGME program director discusses value of osteopathic recognition

A St. Louis family medicine residency program plans to join many other ACGME programs that have applied for osteopathic recognition. Here’s why.

The long-suffering patient had endured chronic migraine headaches for years. Her physician, an MD, recommended osteopathic manipulative treatment and referred the patient to a DO. After three months of regular OMT sessions, the patient saw a 50% reduction in her headache frequency.

This success story was recently facilitated by the Mercy family medicine residency at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis. The DO who performed OMT on the patient is a recent graduate of the 42-year-old ACGME-accredited program. The MD, a neurologist whose office is nearby, became more aware of OMT as a treatment modality through interactions with the residency program’s faculty.

Sarah Cole, DO, the program’s new director, joined the residency faculty in 2006 to develop an osteopathic manipulative treatment curriculum. The curriculum helps DO residents continue their osteopathic training and provides MD residents with skills to identify patients who could benefit from OMT.

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Since 2006, 25 to 40% of the program’s residents have been DOs, and the program plans to apply for osteopathic recognition this month. “Obtaining osteopathic recognition will help us from a recruiting standpoint,” says Dr. Cole, noting that DO students will be able to give preference to programs with an osteopathic focus.

Increasing interest

Dr. Cole, who often presents her osteopathic curriculum at professional conferences, has been approached several times in the past year by MD program directors and faculty members who want to learn more about her program, or have similar programs in the pipeline.

“ACGME programs have been interested in OMT for years, but the single GME accreditation system is really accelerating that,” she says.

Within her own program, Dr. Cole has noticed excitement building around the prospect of obtaining osteopathic recognition. “Our residents feel a sense of personal and professional satisfaction that there is a very unique component to their training, and it’s being recognized,” she says.

‘More visible’

Eric Martin, DO, a first-year resident in the program, says his fellow DO interns are particularly excited about osteopathic recognition. “We all share an interest in building on the skill set we were taught in medical school,” he says.

When applying to residency programs, Dr. Martin sought opportunities to continue his OMT training. After meeting Dr. Cole and learning about her program’s strong emphasis on osteopathic principles, he knew he had found the right fit..

“It was evident right away that Dr. Cole uses manipulation every day and encourages residents to do the same,” Dr. Martin says.

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