The transition to a single accreditation system for graduate medical education ended on June 30, marking the culmination of a successful five-year transition. With the osteopathic profession fully included and integrated into the ACGME processes, procedures and governance, this begins a new era for expansion of osteopathic principles and practice through Osteopathic Recognition.
Under the new system, the Accreditation Council for Graduation Medical Education (ACGME) serves as the nation’s sole accreditor for both DO and MD residencies and fellowships.
The numbers tell a story of a successful transition: Since 2015, when the transition began, filled post-graduate positions in previously AOA-accredited programs grew 22% from 8,647 to 10,462 in 2020.
A total of 98.6% of AOA-accredited programs that applied for ACGME accreditation have received it, with additional programs expected to transition in the next few months.
A record-breaking Match
Overall, 99.29% of this year’s graduating DOs who sought GME placed into postgrad training, according to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM).
In this year’s National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) Match, the first-ever combined match, a record number of osteopathic medical students—6,215—matched through the main residency match, and DOs’ participation and match rates were also record highs. Many additional DO candidates found their residencies via the NRMP’s Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP).
“The latest Match numbers show that program directors are seeking the skills and expertise that DO candidates bring to the table,” said AOA President Ronald R. Burns, DO. “We are thrilled to see osteopathic students thriving as we finish the transition to a new era of graduate medical education, and we are confident that our graduates will continue to succeed and secure competitive residency positions in the years ahead.”
Preserving osteopathic training and distinctiveness
During the transition—a joint effort between the AOA, AACOM and the ACGME—several DO leaders advocated for osteopathic trainees and the preservation of osteopathic distinctiveness from the start.
“The tireless work of many leaders in both the osteopathic and allopathic professions are what made this transition successful and possible,” said AOA CEO Kevin M. Klauer, DO, EJD. “Several AOA board members and leaders performed critical work to enhance the profession’s relationship with the ACGME, and provided key contributions to the incorporation of osteopathic representation into the ACGME’s policies and procedures, as well as the ACGME’s leadership structure and board of directors.”
DOs now serve on ACGME’s board of directors and 20 of its review committees. ACGME also created an osteopathic principles committee and a new senior leadership position: senior vice president of osteopathic accreditation, currently filled by Lorenzo Pence, DO. Separate from the agreed-upon DO inclusion within ACGME leadership as part of the transition, last year AOA Past President Karen J. Nichols, DO, became chair-elect of the ACGME’s board.
The new system also incorporates osteopathic medicine via the addition of Osteopathic Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine as a specialty accredited by ACGME and through the programmatic designation of Osteopathic Recognition.
All ACGME-accredited programs can receive Osteopathic Recognition (OR) by offering education in osteopathic principles and practice. Currently, 233 programs have received OR in 27 specialties.
“Throughout this transition, programs and trainees alike have shown an unwavering commitment to osteopathic principles and practice,” said Dr. Burns. “Osteopathic graduate medical education is stronger than ever and we are well-positioned for continued growth.”
Benefits of a single GME system
Under the single GME system, methods of evaluation and accountability are more consistent. A single system is also more transparent to outside entities such as the federal government, licensing boards, credentials committees and the public.
“The selfless work of the many leaders from the AOA, AACOM and the ACGME should be congratulated and applauded for their Herculean efforts and accomplishments, culminating with the conclusion of the five-year transition,” says Dr. Klauer. “The collective efforts of many will result in a more cohesive graduate medical educational system, amplifying the distinctive voice of the osteopathic profession and expanding training opportunities for our students.”