Research initiatives

How conducting research can advance your career—and the osteopathic profession

The need for a robust evidence base to support osteopathic medicine has grown. Here are some ways you can get involved.


When emergency medicine resident Kevin Hoffman, DO, realized he couldn’t accurately estimate the costs for common emergency room treatments, he began wondering if his ER colleagues also struggled in this area.

The question led him to publish an original contribution this June in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA) that found only 38% of emergency medicine health care professionals could estimate ER costs correctly.

Dr. Hoffman’s published research will not only advance his career, but also make a positive contribution to the body of evidence-based research that helps physicians do their jobs better.

Research is one of the AOA’s strategic priorities for this reason. With the transition to a single graduate medical education accreditation system, resident participation in scholarly activity is essential, and the need for a robust evidence base to support osteopathic medicine has grown. These are some of the initiatives and opportunities the AOA is providing to elevate osteopathic research.

Single GME & osteopathic distinctiveness

In the single GME accreditation system, residency program directors, faculty members, residents and fellows will be required to engage in scholarly activity.

[story-sidebar id=”203055″]

With nearly 70% of osteopathic medical students saying they would prefer to do their GME training in an ACGME program with osteopathic recognition, the AOA is building a foundation for medical students and residents interested in research.

The AOA’s research department is putting together a Research Readiness Program to help novice researchers to understand research basics like developing research protocols that serve as outlines for clinical research and obtaining Institution Review Board approval.

Help from researchers at all stages of their careers is needed to ensure that as DOs become further integrated into the house of medicine, the profession is establishing a robust evidence base for the osteopathic approach to practicing medicine.

The AOA recently awarded over $1 million to osteopathic physicians and researchers to conduct osteopathically focused research projects. Awardees are strongly encouraged to publish their work in the JAOA and to include osteopathic medical students, residents and fellows on their research teams.

Thomas Cavalieri, DO

“Providing evidence for the effectiveness of the osteopathic approach to care will have a far-reaching impact on patient satisfaction, population health and cost effectiveness,” says Thomas Cavalieri, DO, who serves on the AOA’s Bureau of Osteopathic Clinical Education and Research. “Through these efforts, osteopathic research can make valuable contributions aimed at advancing health care in our nation and beyond.”


The JAOA is doing its part to recognize and uplift the trainee voice in research. In the past 18 months, it has published 44 manuscripts with a total of 70 students or residents as authors or coauthors.

The Journal’s ENGAGE Initiative, now a year old, highlights the ongoing educational, clinical and basic science research taking place within the osteopathic academic world, according to editor in chief Robert Orenstein, DO. The initiative encourages osteopathic medical school faculty and students to submit papers covering their research, their work’s impact on local health care and their school’s innovations in medical education.

Robert Orenstein, DO

Dr. Orenstein also encourages novice researchers to consider the JAOA’s SURF section, which publishes manuscripts exclusively written by students, residents and fellows.

“The SURF section is often students’ and residents’ first experience in medical publication, and our editorial staff works with them to help produce the best product for publication,” he says.

Get involved

Below is a list of current opportunities and resources for prospective, novice and seasoned researchers:


  1. Dr. Bob, DO

    What is the “osteopathic approach” and “distinctiveness” that is always spoken or written about? It sounds excellent, but down to specifics, what does it mean? 90% or more of DOs don’t utilize OMT making them essentially indistinguishable from their MD counterparts. What exactly are these differences, specifically? I’m curious.

    1. Rose Raymond

      Hi Dr. Bob,

      This is from our Doctors That DO website, you can find more here:

      “Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, believe there’s more to good health than the absence of pain or disease. As guardians of wellness, DOs focus on prevention by gaining a deeper understanding of your lifestyle and environment, rather than just treating your symptoms.

      “Listening to you and partnering in your care are at the heart of our holistic, empathic approach to medicine. We are trained to promote the body’s natural tendency toward health and self-healing. We practice according to the latest science and use the latest technology. But we also consider options to complement pharmaceuticals and surgery.”

Leave a comment Please see our comment policy