The osteopathic medical profession didn’t simply survive the past year-plus of unprecedented turmoil, it adapted and grew stronger throughout the pandemic, noted Joseph Giaimo, DO, the AOA’s 2021-2022 president, during his inauguration speech to the AOA’s House of Delegates. Right now, DOs are perfectly positioned to meet the needs of today’s patients, he noted.
“Our patients need physicians who are not just interested in getting them well,” he said. “They need physicians who are trained to keep them well. Right now, perhaps more than ever in history, patients are looking for that kind of care.”
In his speech, Dr. Giaimo outlined his areas of focus during his presidential year, which include bolstering pride in and recognition of the osteopathic profession, supporting AOA board certification and raising awareness of the value of AOA membership.
Ambassadorship and professional advocacy are two powerful tools DOs can employ to strengthen recognition of the profession, Dr. Giaimo noted.
“I’m calling on all of you right now to step into the arena,” he said. “Stand proud with me and spread the word, sharing our DO message.”
A DO Pride toolkit is currently in the works at the AOA, Dr. Giaimo noted, and will soon be shared on the AOA website. The toolkit will include tips on sharing the DO story. In addition, the AOA will soon deploy a new osteopathic brand campaign designed to raise awareness of DOs and osteopathic medicine among patients and media, he said.
“At this critical time, when we raise our voices together, the nation will never again have to ask, ‘What is a DO?'” Dr. Giaimo said.
Also, in the coming year, the AOA will continue to stand up to any attacks on the profession, as it did throughout the past year, Dr. Giaimo noted.
“We are not going to allow significant assaults on our profession to go unanswered,” he said. “The AOA and our affiliate organizations are working together at the state and federal level to advocate [for DOs].”
Areas of advocacy include scope of practice issues, appropriateness of reimbursement, ensuring DOs are paid for their work and ensuring that all laws at the state and federal level protect the DO degree and DO credentials, Dr. Giaimo noted.
AOA board certification
Dr. Giaimo urged deans, residency program directors and student leaders to mentor osteopathic students and trainees and share the message that osteopathic board certification has been around for 80 years and is still the best way to measure DOs’ ability to treat patients osteopathically.
“We are partnering with NBOME [and] specialty boards to develop the preferred certification for all osteopathic physicians,” he noted. “That work is well underway, but we need your help to get the word out.”
The past year of practicing medicine, Dr. Giaimo, was the hardest in all his 30 years of being a physician. During dark days, however, he was encouraged and supported by AOA efforts to assist physicians on the front lines of the pandemic. These include securing the option to buy PPE direct, providing guidance on telemedicine and federal loans, and defending the profession against media misrepresentation.
“The AOA provided tremendous value when things were really hitting the fan,” he said. “Like all of you, I came home after working these long hours only to hear the press misrepresenting our profession. I didn’t have to worry about that. I knew the AOA would respond.”
Having seen the value AOA membership has brought him throughout his career, Dr. Giaimo plans to lead efforts to educate premeds and medical students on the value of AOA membership and the value of being involved in the organization.
“I look forward to collaborating with all of you, welcoming home our entire osteopathic family [and] creating an osteopathic home that is welcoming and inclusive to all DOs,” he said.
To hear Dr. Giaimo’s full inauguration speech, watch the video above.