Year In Review

The DO 2021 recap

The AOA published nearly 300 news articles and features in its official weekly magazine last year. Here’s a look at 2021 in The DO.

Last year, the AOA’s official magazine covered advocacy issues, disseminated COVID-19 and vaccination information, reported on efforts to battle misinformation, recognized amazing osteopathic physicians, and much more. Here’s a recap of 2021, as told in The DO.


AOA files suit against ABIM
An announcement early in the year informed members that the AOA and seven individual physicians had filed suit against the ABIM in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. The lawsuit challenged an ABIM policy stating that program directors must be certified by ABIM to qualify their residents for the ABIM exam.

AOA statement regarding vaccine misinformation and hoaxes
On Jan. 13, the AOA took the lead in supporting vaccination efforts and denouncing misinformation related to COVID-19 vaccinations. “The AOA without reservation encourages the use of these vaccines, and we remain ready to help administer and to educate the public about them.”

Journal of Osteopathic Medicine publishes inaugural issue
After 119 years of publishing as the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA), the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine (JOM) launched its first issue under a new name. The issue featured an editorial from Ross D. Zafonte, DO, JOM’s Editor-in-Chief, in which he explains some of the ways the journal, which switched from print to online-only and open access, would look different moving forward.


In addition to recognizing countless contributions made by African-Americans in U.S. history and in the osteopathic profession, an article published Feb. 26 in The DO reported on the AOA’s new strategic plan to promote diversity, equity and inclusion.

On National Women Physicians Day, female DOs reflect on women in medicine
To celebrate women in medicine, The DO offered a historical perspective showing once again that A.T. Still was ahead of his time. The first osteopathic medical school he founded featured 21 students, and six were women. The DO also featured:

  • Hala Sabry, DO, an emergency physician who founded National Women Physicians Day (NWPD)
  • Karen Nichols, the first female president of the AOA (2010-11)
  • Barbara Ross-Lee, the first Black woman to serve as dean of a U.S. medical school
  • K. Kay Moody, DO, emergency physician and creator of the emDocs community for emergency medicine physicians
  • Barbara Walker, DO, the first female physician to be deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division, an airborne infantry division of the U.S. Army


DOs advocate for health care worker support, GME funding, Medicare payments on DO Day 2021
A transformed DO Day on March 6-7 drew more than 750 DOs, medical students, and osteopathic advocates. New in 2021, DO Day included a health policy conference and offered CME. The conference provided roughly 14 professional development talks for students, physicians, and affiliate leaders. Legislative priorities included:

  • Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) funding. The THCGME program was created to increase the number of physicians and dentists trained in community-based settings and currently supports roughly 60 residency programs in 25 states.
  • Support for The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, developed to address the high rates of burnout among health care professionals and the high suicide rate among doctors. The act passed the Senate in August and the House of Representatives in December.
  • Support for The Medicare Sequester COVID Moratorium Act. President Joe Biden signed legislation in December that defers scheduled Medicare payment cuts to 2023.

NRMP Match results in; 6,597 new DO residents
The DO reported on March 19 that 6,327 osteopathic medical students and 270 past DO graduates matched into postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) residency positions through the 2021 National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) Match. That is a net increase of 359 DO students from the prior year.

Reasons to be proud to be a DO on National Doctors’ Day 2021
In honor of National Doctors’ Day, which is observed annually on March 30, The DO celebrated those who make us #DOProud. A special “Thank you” goes out to contributors to our publication. DOs and osteopathic medical students contributed to more than 20 articles, agreed to numerous interviews, and offered perspective to The DO throughout 2021. A few DOs spotlighted in March 2021 include:

Leaders and Service Providers

  • J.D. Polk, DO — NASA chief health and medical officer
  • Darrell Grace, DO — Founder of the NOMA Health Fair

Military Service Leaders

  • Ronald R. Blanck, DO — Lieutenant General (Retired), 39th Surgeon General of the United States Army, 1996-2000
  • Marco Coppola, DO — Commanding General, 2nd Brigade, Texas State Guard
  • Darren Sommer, DO, MBA, MPH — Lieutenant Colonel, Army reservist
  • Bob Suter, DO — Brigadier General, U.S. Army Reserve

White House Physicians

  • Kevin O’Connor, DO — White House physician
  • Sean Conley, DO — Former White House physician

Mental Health Advocates

  • Quidest Sheriff, DO — Quit her job in March 2020 to found an online community focused on providing mental health support to female physicians


  • William G. Anderson, DO — Civil Rights pioneer
  • Barbara Ross-Lee, DO — First Black woman to serve as dean for a U.S. Medical School
  • Karen Nichols, DO — Trailblazing leader in the profession
  • Hala Sabry, DO, MBA — Founder of National Women Physicians Day
  • K. Kay Moody, DO, MPH — Physician wellness organizer and leader

DOs Making Significant Contributions During COVID-19

  • Larry Dean Smith, DO — Indian Health Service (IHS) director
  • Lauri Hicks, DO — Director of the CDC’s Office of Antibiotic Stewardship
  • Stan Grogg, DO — AOA liaison to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
  • Julie Ledgerwood, DO — Chief medical officer and chief of the Clinical Trials Program at the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) of NIAID/NIH
  • Leonard Calabrese, DO, and Cassandra Calabrese, DO — Father-daughter team, rheumatology physicians and researchers

Residents and Fellows

  • Alin Gragossian DO, MPH — Heart transplant recipient
  • Carisa Champion, DO, JD, MPH — Surgical communications fellow on Grey’s Anatomy
  • Steve Martin, DO, and James Latronica, DO — Resident physicians who invented 3D-printable face masks


  • Stephanie Egwuatu, OMS IV — Student who shares a passion for health equity with her DO sister
  • Nicholas Harriel, OMS IV — Newly elected SOMA President

DOs Who Represent the Profession in the Media

  • Jeffrey Grove, DO, and Michael Jackowitz, DO — Tony Award-winning Broadway producers
  • Kaleb Redden, DO — Finalist on The Titan Games
  • Mirtha Macri, DO — Featured on Netflix’s Lenox Hill
  • Michael Sampson, DO — Ringside physician for All Elite Wrestling

Mediaplanet osteopathic medicine campaign highlights DOs’ impact on the future of medicine
With support from several osteopathic organizations, the AOA partnered with content marketing company Mediaplanet to deliver positive stories about the profession and DOs to hundreds of thousands of readers across the U.S. This article in The DO offered more detail about the campaign, which was called Empowering DOs. It was released in digital format after being circulated in USA Today in its March 24 issue to 600,000 readers in more than 15 of the country’s largest media markets.


6 historical artifacts that tell a story about osteopathic medicine
For National Osteopathic Medicine Week from April 18-24, The DO writer Rose Raymond worked with the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri, to highlight some of the artifacts that tell the story of the osteopathic profession.

Timeline: The history of osteopathic medicine
This infographic traces the osteopathic medical profession’s roots from the 1828 birth of its founder, A.T. Still, MD, DO, to today.


The importance of advocating for med students to receive COVID vaccines
For osteopathic medical students, signing up for a vaccination wasn’t easy in the beginning, even though students were staffing vaccination clinics. Nicholas Harriel, OMS III, president of the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA), shared with The DO a story of how SOMA worked to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines for its members earlier this year. Among other actions, SOMA partnered with the AOA.

New AOA Strategic Plan shares organization’s priorities from 2021-2026
On May 12, The DO published an article informing readers about the AOA’s new five-year Strategic Plan, which outlines the organization’s priorities and goals for 2021 to 2026. The AOA’s Strategic Planning Committee worked with early-, mid-, and late-career DOs, osteopathic medical students, residents, and AOA affiliate and partner organizations to develop a plan that addressed the needs and concerns of many groups within the osteopathic medical profession.


AOA statement on physician-led care, physician assistant title change and non-physician clinician use of the title ‘doctor’
On June 2, an article in The DO explained the AOA’s stance on a vote by the American Academy of PAs (AAPA) to change the official title of PAs from Physician Assistant to Physician Associate. The AOA’s official statement called for truth in advertising, intellectual honesty, and transparency with the use of professional designations of non-physician clinicians in service of the public interest. The AOA also called for organized, collaborative discussions among stakeholder organizations in the Physician, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, and Physician Assistant communities to find common ground on these important topics.

AOA statement regarding testimony on Ohio HB 248
The AOA released a statement on the testimony of Sherri Tenpenny, DO, during a hearing on Ohio HB 248: On June 9, the American Osteopathic Association became aware of the June 8 testimony provided by Sherri Tenpenny, DO, at the Ohio House of Representatives hearing on House Bill 248, the Enact Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act. Following careful review of the reported testimony, we find the statements included material misinformation, personal perspectives without support of evidence or scientific foundation, and are not consistent with the principles and practice of osteopathic medicine.


House of Delegates:

Internist and pulmonologist installed as AOA’s 125th president
The DO published a profile of the AOA’s 2021-2022 president, Joseph Giaimo, DO, in its July 22 issue. In the Q&A, Dr. Giaimo tells of how he grew up around medicine and is a second-generation DO. He was a fixture in his father’s osteopathic primary care practice, where he met his father’s colleagues, went on house calls, and assisted with office work. Dr. Giaimo also talks about his goals for the upcoming year.

A.T. Still Memorial Lecture: ‘We embrace our past as we walk into the future’
Sarah Wolff, DO, discusses how the osteopathic medical profession’s rich history positions it well to take a leadership role in today’s health care landscape. Dr. Wolff, a family physician practicing near Portland, Oregon, delivered this year’s A.T. Still Memorial Lecture at the AOA’s Annual Business Meeting. Dr. Wolff also serves on the AOA’s Bureau of Membership.

HOD Videos:
AOA President Dr. Joseph Giaimo Addresses HOD 2021
2021 House of Delegates A.T. Still Memorial Lecture
2021 House of Delegates Presidential Address
2021 House of Delegates Presidential Citations
2021 House of Delegates AOA Awards Presentation
2021 House of Delegates CEO Report
House of Delegates 2021 Presentation of Colors

For the first time, DOs and osteopathic medical students are over 168K strong
The AOA released the annual Osteopathic Medical Profession (OMP) Report in July. This article in The DO breaks down the numbers by age, gender, and specialty. The AOA produces the OMP Report to track expansion and growth within the osteopathic medical profession and examine demographics and trends related to DOs and osteopathic medical students. Beginning in 2021, the publication of the OMP report has transitioned to July, aligning with the AOA’s annual business meeting.

Missouri, former Arizona osteopathic executive directors win Bob E. Jones, CAE Awards
The AOA expanded its awards program in 2021, and as part of that, the Bob E. Jones, CAE, award was reinstated. The award is given to outstanding affiliate leaders and is named in honor of Bob E. Jones, CAE, who served as executive director of the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association from 1969–1999. The 2021 recipients were Pete Wertheim, former executive director of the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association (AOMA), who received the honor posthumously, and Brian Bowles, executive director of the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (MAOPS). Wertheim and Bowles were selected in recognition of their leadership and tremendous contributions toward advancing osteopathic medicine.

DOs at the Tokyo Olympics share the joys and challenges of working with world-class athletes
An article in the July 22 edition of The DO featured a Q&A with DOs preparing to care for athletes at the Tokyo Olympics. James Lally, DO, who would be attending his seventh summer Olympics as the chief medical officer for the International Shooting Sports Foundation, Alexandra Myers, DO, team physician for USA Rugby, and Naresh Rao, DO, team physician for the USA Water Polo men’s team, explained what Olympic work entails. Also making the trip were Jonathan Finnoff, DO, chief medical officer of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and Kentaro Onishi, DO, who supported athletes as a sports medicine physician.


AOA issues joint statement in support of COVID-19 vaccine mandates for all workers in health and long-term care
In early August, the AOA and more than 60 other health care organizations called for all health care and long-term care employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Organizations signing on to the statement agreed that “this is the logical fulfillment of the ethical commitment of all health care workers to put patients as well as residents of long-term care facilities first and take all steps necessary to ensure their health and well-being.”

AOA challenges vaccine misinformation
The AOA’s work to fight vaccine misinformation was summarized in this Aug. 19 article in The DO. When the AOA learned that Joseph Mercola, DO, had been identified as one nation’s top spreaders of misinformation about the virus and the vaccine — mostly on social media — the AOA responded with its own social media campaign. The response garnered nearly 50,000 impressions and 166 engagements. The article also told of AOA leader participation in several articles and television newscasts to condemn misinformation.


‘Severe personal violation and loss’: NY area DOs recall serving in hospitals on 9/11
To commemorate the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, AOA writer Alexa Matthews spoke with DOs who were called to serve that day. They shared memories of their experience, how the attack affected them, and their reflections 20 years later.

Defending the osteopathic profession against misrepresentation, scope encroachment, and more
During the 2020-2021 fiscal year, DOs and osteopathic medical students faced numerous stresses, including legislative efforts to encroach on their scope of practice and widespread misrepresentation of their profession in the media. They met these challenges while simultaneously navigating a global pandemic — with many members of the profession serving on the front lines and volunteering to aid others. This article about the AOA 2020-2021 Annual Report outlines these potential setbacks and details how the organization worked with affiliates and members of the profession to fight them. The report also provides an overview of the AOA’s recent endeavors in osteopathic education, training, research, and board certification, along with additional information about AOA advocacy efforts in other areas.

AOA statement on American Association of Nurse Anesthetists name change, title misappropriation, and the importance of physician-led care
In response to a name change from American Association of Nurse Anesthetists to American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology, the AOA released a statement calling for truth in advertising, intellectual honesty, and transparency through the use of consistent and clearly discernible professional designations for all health care professionals. This Sept. 15 article in The DO offers background and detail about the AOA’s stance.

5 things to know about physician suicide on National Physician Suicide Awareness Day
To mark National Physician Suicide Awareness (NPSA) Day on Sept. 17, the AOA published the five things to know about physician suicide, including where to seek help. Physicians complete suicide at a higher rate than the general population, the article points out.


DOs fight back: Profession responds to Hasan Minhaj’s Jimmy Fallon interview
During an interview on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, comedian Hasan Minhaj broadly mischaracterized DOs, referring to them as “off-brand doctors” among other comments that perpetuated harmful stereotypes about osteopathic physicians. The clip was quickly circulated throughout the medical community, prompting outrage from DOs and MDs alike. Editor’s Note: Minhaj issued a video response, which you can read more about in the December section of this report.

Chiropractor scope of practice expansion bill in Congress
The AOA, the New York State Osteopathic Medical Society and the Washington Osteopathic Medical Association sent letters to Congress opposing a bill (H.R. 2654) that would authorize chiropractors to use the title “physician” under the Medicare Part B program and be paid the same rate for manual manipulation of the spine as DOs or MDs.

More than 4,700 members of the osteopathic profession attend OMED21
Some highlights of OMED21 included:

  • A keynote panel with three DOs who supported world-class athletes representing the United States in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. James M. Lally, DO, chief medical officer for the International Shooting Sports Federation, was asked to describe what it’s like to be a team physician.
  • WNBA basketball legend Lisa Leslie spoke to attendees on Saturday and attributed her success to working hard, challenging herself, and being proud of who she was. This is an attitude that osteopathic physicians can use in their practices and consider when working toward their career goals.
  • Psychiatrist Mona Masood, DO, founder of the Physician Support Line, a free, confidential peer-to-peer hotline for all physicians ((888) 409-0141), spoke about physician mental health and urged the profession to join her in championing and supporting clinician well-being.
  • AOA President Joseph A. Giaimo, DO, MACOI, recognized six different sets of award recipients for advancing the profession through research in the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine. These recipients are a diverse group of academics, osteopathic students, and DOs.
  • Additional AOA awards presented during OMED21 include the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Unification awards for an osteopathic physician and a college of osteopathic medicine, the AOA Mentor of the Year award, and three Outstanding Affiliate Awards. See the full list of award recipients here.
  • Hundreds of CME sessions from 18 different specialties ranging from talks on clinician mental health to handling medical emergencies on commercial airline flights and the basic tenets of skincare were held during this year’s conference.


What AOA President Joseph Giaimo, DO, learned in the military
A Navy veteran, Dr. Giaimo reflects on the knowledge he gained during his service as the profession observes Veterans Day.

How to prepare for virtual residency interviews for the 2021-2022 season
This article in The DO offers advice for medical students during the pandemic. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we’ve all had to adjust the way we work, study, and live. Medical students and DOs who have been interviewing for residency positions are experiencing a dramatically different interview process from what was standard before COVID.

COCA has received a five-year renewal of recognition from the U.S. Department of Education
The AOA accreditation agency will continue to oversee educational requirements for the growing profession, including 37 Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine in 58 locations.


Physician Fee Schedule 2022: What you need to know
The AOA’s public policy staff share the highlights doctors need to know about the PFS.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently published the final rule for the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and the Quality Payment Program (QPP) for calendar year (CY) 2022. In the rule, CMS finalized proposals for Principal Care Management and Chronic Care Management services recommended by the AOA, telehealth services, MIPS Value Pathways co-developed by the AOA, and provisions authorized under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. CMS also increased payments for administration of COVID-19 vaccines and other preventive health immunizations.

Following backlash, comedian Hasan Minhaj clarifies his comments about DOs
Responding to feedback on his September Tonight Show appearance, Minhaj acknowledges that osteopathic physicians are great doctors and provide excellent patient care.

Although the video stopped short of a formal apology, the AOA, osteopathic physicians, and MDs united in appreciation that the comedian acknowledged he hit a nerve in the medical community that he didn’t anticipate. One osteopathic physician wrote, “Cheers to all doctors (DO and MD); I’m honored to all be on the same team.”

The doctor will hear you now
External Brand Campaign: The AOA’s new osteopathic brand campaign is aimed at building awareness and understanding of the DO distinction. Key foundations of the osteopathic profession—compassion, empathy, and a desire to listen—are also cornerstone messages for the AOA’s newly launched osteopathic brand campaign, which is designed to increase understanding and awareness of DOs and their unique approach to care.

Osteopathic Pride campaign celebrates being #DOProud
Internal Brand Campaign: Throughout the coming months, a host of messages including videos, social media posts, articles, emails, and digital ads will run simultaneously with an external campaign aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of osteopathic medicine among the general public. Together, these campaigns will amplify the voice of DOs and publicize the tremendous impact they make every day in the lives of millions of patients across the country.

Speed, innovation drive AOA board certification strategy
AOA certifying boards have been busy eliminating high-stakes recertification exams and transitioning to remote oral and written exams. Beginning in 2019, the AOA informed members and the osteopathic community that its priority was to eliminate high-stakes re-certification exams and transition to a longitudinal assessment model to provide high-quality evaluation of diplomates while allowing greater flexibility to meet the OCC Component 3 requirement. This movement is designed to give diplomates the freedom to access and select content that is relevant to their specialty all while keeping with the true spirit of “continuous learning” that longitudinal assessment offers.

Leave a comment Please see our comment policy