Advocacy win

Utah Medical Association denounces discrimination against osteopathic physicians and students

The UMA now stands against discriminatory acts or behavior on the basis of training and will adopt a non-discrimination position statement or policy.

Many DOs can likely recall encounters where their osteopathic education was disparaged or discredited, whether inferred or just outright, says David J. Park, DO, vice president and dean of the Southern Utah Campus of Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine (RVUCOM-SU).

“This should no longer be acceptable,” he says. “No osteopathic physician or student should ever be discriminated against or harassed based on our medical education. Health care is a team endeavor and it must embrace diversity, equity and inclusion at every level and for every stakeholder.”

On Sept. 12, the Utah Medical Association’s (UMA) House of Delegates passed a resolution that says the association opposes any form of discrimination against osteopathic physicians and medical students.

Authored by Dr. Park, the resolution, which cites the single graduate medical education accreditation system and the equal practice rights and hospital privileges granted to DOs and MDs in Utah, states that:

  • The UMA “denounces discriminatory acts or behavior against physicians or medical students solely based on osteopathic or allopathic training,” and
  • The UMA will “adopt a non-discrimination position statement or policy that denounces discrimination, harassment, or retaliation against any physician or medical student based solely on their osteopathic or allopathic training.”

After many rounds of amendments and votes, the resolution passed 89% to 11% among 147 delegates.

“There were 9 student delegates from RVUCOM-SU, many of whom spoke during the house and made quite an impact,” Dr. Park said.

Dr. Park hopes the resolution will serve as a template osteopathic leaders in other states can use to advocate for similar resolutions in their state MD societies. A Word document version of the passed resolution is available here.

Related reading:

Australia will recognize COMLEX-USA, AOA residency, as criteria for initial licensure

DOs help reauthorize Oklahoma’s osteopathic medical board


  1. About time! Hope other medical associations follow suit! I think this is especially relevant in the residency application process. No program should be allowed to screen out osteopathic medical students in ERAS.

  2. It’s been a slow but steady uphill battle for me since 1977. Always be proud of your training as a DO. I respect my allopathic colleagues and am very happy with my career as a busy gp. Recently retired, still attending classes and a bit bored!

  3. Is this REALLY still happening in 2020? I thought we were beyond this. I can tell you that university of Utah didn’t have a problem taking my DO money for their CME in Park City this year. I will be sure to mention this when they call this year asking for CME attendees for their quite expensive 3 day program. Disappointing.

  4. I’m curious if there was a specific incident that prompted this. I have not experienced any bias against me since I graduated in 2002 and I completed an ACGME residency. I’m sure it exists, but I’m curious what prompted this action.

    1. This was not triggered by any one incident. Utah is becoming more and more osteopathic friendly and UMA is just declaring this. It is a good thing!

  5. “After many rounds of amendments and votes, the resolution passed 89% to 11% among 147 delegates.” Really? Why would it take many rounds and amendments? What were they? And who were the 11% who still opposed such a resolution and why?

  6. Sad to see this still exists. I did allopathic fellowship in th 70’s and it was there but not blatant. Had luxury of practicing in large all DO hospital for 25 years until some of the docs and administrators thought we couldn’t survive. Sold us out, big system closed one Urban 300 bed hospital to move to the suburban hospital. Had to go to MD hospital with clearly inferior docs who worried about $$$ more than patients. Anti DO bias was huge. 20 years later the closed urban hospital, now Select Specialty is in a booming gentrified area, while the suburban hospital is a shrunken hulk of 150 beds in a rundown area of the burbs. And still declining. Never forgot my experiences and still worry our kids have the same issues today as 45 years ago

  7. I was very surprised to read this article. Before retiring, I was an anesthesiologist in a very busy allopathic medical center in the 70s & 80s where we also provided ICU care. I never saw or heard of an discrimination. In fact, I experienced just the opposite.

  8. I was denied an elective rotation in emergency medicine by the University of Utah solely because I was an osteopathic medical student. Just checked to see if this has changed since I inquired 15 years ago and…nope. Still states that “DO students are not accepted into all rotations”.

    1. Thank you for sharing this information. The AOA has been in communication with the University of Utah and is currently working on resolving the situation.

  9. I had a great application, standard deviations above average in my specialty, and received few interviews, mostly from Brand new programs. My very abbreviated story: Didn’t receive many from programs in my state or even one I lived 20 minutes from. Sent letters of interest late in the season to my instate programs, 2/6 responded and invited me upon “reviewing my application a second time.” I know this will sound untrue but was told by several PDs the reason I was passed up was essentially because I was a DO. One (A retired PD helping out) said they didn’t mind DOs, but other PDs would often make fun of him and act shocked when they told others they accepted DOs and admitted it was wrong. Meanwhile, speaking to MD counterparts during the interview season, students with average applications from across the country with no regional connections were getting invited to local programs I never received a word from. Most of them had so many interview invites they couldn’t attend them all. One had nearly 30 II (also average application).

    It’s 2020, this needs to stop. Especially at academia which I would think would be the most tolerant and anti-discriminatory. Ironic.

    1. Thank you for sharing this information. The AOA is aware of this issue and is currently working with Rocky Vista University and the Colorado Society of Osteopathic Medicine to resolve the situation.

  10. This school year visiting Med students to Univ of Utah processing fees for rotations cost:
    $125 for MD students; $295 for DO students. We use the same VSAS. Not sure why it would cost so much more to process a DO student. At least it’s not univ of Colorado’s difference in fees… just sayin’ ($125-MD vs $4,000 DO)!

    1. Thank you for sharing this information. The AOA has been in communication with the University of Utah and is currently working on resolving the situation.

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