World health

Building global awareness of US osteopathic medicine

During the World Health Assembly, DOs educated health care leaders on osteopathic medicine, noting that U.S.-trained DOs are fully licensed physicians.


AOA President Mark A. Baker, DO, educated international health leaders about the distinctions between U.S.-trained DOs and non-physician osteopaths last month in Geneva, Switzerland, supporting AOA’s strategic initiative to build global awareness of osteopathic medicine.

AOA is advocating for a revision of official international standards and definitions, which could help create a smoother path for American DOs seeking practice rights abroad.

Dr. Baker’s visit coincided with the annual World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO). The forum is the world’s highest health policy organization and includes health ministers from the WHO’s 194 member states.

AOA representatives met with Dr. Zhang Qi of WHO’s Traditional and Complementary Medicine unit, continuing a conversation about the feasibility of a collaborating center at a U.S. college of osteopathic medicine. The group also convened with leaders of the Osteopathic International Alliance, which will soon be led by AOA Trustee William Burke, DO, dean of the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The education of international health care leaders on U.S. osteopathic medicine will be beneficial to the many DOs and osteopathic medical students who wish to practice or serve abroad.

“It was a great opportunity and an honor to represent the AOA and U.S.-trained osteopathic physicians on this world stage,” Dr. Baker said.


  1. Dawn

    It’s great that the AOA is educating other countries about the training US osteopaths have. Now, it would be great if the AOA would educate the AMA about this. The Majority of ABMS boards do not accept osteopathic residency as equivalent training and many will make an osteopath re-do residency in an ACGME program. ABMS does not consider osteopathic trained US physicians equivalent. We have been told by the AOA that they fixed this with unification but it has not been fixed. Instead, everyone still has to complete an ACGME residency to be board eligible with ABMS. Also, ABMS considers British trained physicians to be more well-trained than osteopaths.

    1. James Swartwout, Senior Vice President of Education and Accreditation

      Dear Doctor:

      Thank you for sharing your perspectives regarding the single GME accreditation system and certification. The single GME accreditation system was designed to enhance postdoctoral training. It was not designed to address certification issues. After June 30, 2020, there will be one program accreditation authority, and training programs will adhere to the same standards. There are benefits to this new accreditation system, including a level evaluation of programs and residents and greater flexibility in residency training opportunities for both osteopathic physicians and MDs.

      Accreditation and certification are separate and distinct activities in that one approves training programs (to be eligible for Medicare educational funds) and the other certifies a physician as an expert in a field of medicine.

      Certification indicates that physicians have completed a number of requirements. One of the requirements is completion of a residency training program. AOA certification requires the completion of AOA-accredited training (soon to include ACGME training). The ABMS requires ACGME-accredited training. The single GME accreditation system oversees accreditation of programs and not the certification of physicians. The AOA has its certification process which is recognized by federal and state agencies, hospitals and others. The ABMS has its certification process.

      There were never negotiations with the ABMS to establish a single certification system. However, a side benefit of the single accreditation system is that the ACGME’s recognition of AOA certification for program directors and faculty has “elevated” the status of AOA certifications and AOA training that leads to AOA certification.

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