After a 16-year tenure as dean of Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (MWU/CCOM), AOA Past President Karen J. Nichols, DO, is moving on in order to devote more time to serving in other leadership positions in medicine.
“The osteopathic profession is in a pivotal time of significant transition,” Dr. Nichols says. “I’m engaged in positions of influence at the ACGME [Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education], including the executive committee and the governance committee, which benefit the osteopathic profession.”
Dr. Nichols also serves in leadership roles within the AOA and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. In these positions, Dr. Nichols aims to help build osteopathic medicine’s influence within the larger world of organized medicine.
“Ten years ago, who would have thought the osteopathic profession would have such a status in the ‘house of medicine,’” Dr. Nichols says. “Together, so many osteopathic physicians are working on behalf of our beloved profession. It’s an honor to be part of this team!”
Before serving as MWU/CCOM dean, Dr. Nichols was assistant dean of post doctoral education at Midwestern University/Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine in Glendale. Her departure from MWU will mark a new start for Dr. Nichols, who has been known as a trailblazer for women in osteopathic medicine.
Dr. Nichols was featured in the recent PBS documentary, The Feminine Touch, which covers the history of women in osteopathic medicine and won a regional Emmy award. The documentary also highlights prominent female leaders in the osteopathic medical profession.
In the documentary, Dr. Nichols spoke of growing up as a young girl on a dairy farm in northern Indiana. During that time, she said, she thought she was destined to be a farmer’s wife, as she didn’t have a physician role model to look up to.
Later, Dr. Nichols served as a female physician mentor to many women as she broke glass ceilings. She was the first female president of the AOA, from 2010-2011. She was also the first woman to lead the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association and the first to lead the American College of Osteopathic Internists.
Dr. Nichols was awarded AOA’s Distinguished Service Certificate for her leadership in osteopathic medicine in 2015. Within the AOA, she also served as founding chair of the organization’s End of Life Care committee, and currently serves on the AOA President’s Advisory Council.
Dr. Nichols is also board certified in internal medicine. Prior to academic medicine, Dr. Nichols practiced internal medicine and geriatrics for 17 years at Mesa General Hospital in Arizona.
She is a graduate of Kansas City University College of Osteopathic Medicine (KCU-COM) and holds an honorary doctorate of humane letters from KCU-COM.