A promise kept

Leaving a legacy: AOA Past President Boyd R. Buser, DO, fulfills his promise

Upon his retirement, Dr. Buser reflects on his decade-plus tenure as dean of the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he expanded access to care in eastern Kentucky.


Editor’s note: This essay was originally published by UPike Magazine and has been edited for The DO. It has been reposted here with permission.

His tenure has been notable, marked by more than a decade of strategic growth, advancing the promise to bring medicine to the mountains.

In June, Boyd R. Buser, DO, retired as vice president for health affairs and dean of the University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (KYCOM). Dana C. Shaffer, DO, became dean on July 2.

“I couldn’t be more pleased,” said Dr. Buser. “It is time for another person to take KYCOM to the next level. It was my hope when we hired Dana he would succeed me. He’s highly qualified and more than ready. I think the school will be in good hands.”

Tremendous growth

KYCOM experienced tremendous growth during Dr. Buser’s leadership, opening the Coal Building, a $40 million educational facility that provided for the expansion of the school’s class size. In its 20th year, KYCOM has graduated more than 1,300 osteopathic physicians and is consistently ranked nationally in rural and family medicine.

On the global front, Dr. Buser has taught extensively, including representing the osteopathic profession in many World Health Organization initiatives. A member of the Osteopathic International Alliance Board of Directors, his travel this year includes South Korea, Dubai and China.

“International osteopathic medicine goes along with the growth of the profession,” said Dr. Buser. “Young people think globally and have a desire to do medical mission work outside the U.S. If we want our doctors to be successful internationally, we’ve got to be active in that arena.”

A focus on wellness and prevention

Following in the footsteps of KYCOM’s founding dean, AOA Past President John Strosnider, DO, Dr. Buser was named president of the AOA in 2016. In his inaugural remarks, Dr. Buser noted a turning point in health care, a time when the focus on wellness and prevention has never been greater.

“Many are recognizing, including the health policy makers, that it makes more sense to invest in people staying well rather than treating them after they are sick. Osteopathic medicine is suited to lead the way with an emphasis on prevention,” said Dr. Buser. “That will be part of the landscape of the future as we look to our curriculum and advances we want to make.”

Dr. Buser’s contributions in osteopathic medical education have been significant, including serving as co-chair of a Blue Ribbon Commission for the Advancement of Osteopathic Medical Education. He was also instrumental in developing a single, unified accreditation system for graduate medical education.

“The single accreditation system creates new opportunities for DO and MD students,” Dr. Buser explained. “A consistent thread of evaluation, it fosters the continuation of osteopathic principles in residency, beyond what we could have done alone.”

As his time at KYCOM ends, perhaps Dr. Buser’s legacy is in keeping the promise made when the medical school was founded.

“I’ve devoted my career to expanding access to the type of health care people of this country need and deserve, and that’s osteopathic medicine,” said Dr. Buser. “This is the best job I’ve ever had – working in a leadership position at an institution making such a difference in an area of great need. It is tremendously personally and professionally fulfilling to come to work every day knowing you had a hand in that.”

For further reading

AOA President Boyd R. Buser, DO: ‘DOs are in a unique position to lead’

AOA Past President honored for lifelong work in osteopathic medical education




  1. Dan and Mary Wilson

    Congratulations on your accomplishments, Boyd. You are an outstanding representative for the advancement of medicine and medical education. Dan and Mary

  2. Sharon Dorman DO

    Dr. Buser is a rock star in Osteopathy. He was our OPP instructor at UNECOM; and a wonderful role model. I hope he enjoys retirement.

Leave a comment Please see our comment policy