Future of the profession

A.T. Still Memorial Lecture: ‘The resiliency of our profession perseveres’

Kenneth J. Veit, DO, senior vice president of academic affairs at PCOM, discusses the profession’s past, present and future during the 2023 A.T. Still Memorial Lecture.


Kenneth J. Veit, DO, senior vice president for academic affairs at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), delivered 2023’s A.T. Still Memorial Lecture at the AOA’s House of Delegates meeting in July. Dr. Veit started off his lecture by telling the audience of how PCOM got its start just a few years after A.T. Still, DO, MD, opened his Kirksville, Missouri, osteopathic medical school.

“Philadelphia was one of the original coastal migrations of our Midwestern professional roots,” said Dr. Veit. “It likely took great audacity and courage of PCOM founders O.J. Snyder and Mason W. Pressly to choose Philadelphia in 1899 to open an osteopathic school—that vision came from somewhere. It likely came from the attributes of a man named Andrew Taylor Still.”

The importance of the DO designation

Dr. Veit also shared his observations of traveling through different states to give graduation speeches at various colleges of osteopathic medicine. While history suggests that A.T. Still had the option to give students MD degrees as well, he declined to do so—and stayed adamant about the importance of the DO designation and what it represents. The distinctiveness of osteopathic medicine continues on today, Dr. Veit notes.

“Each graduating osteopathic student now takes his or her degree into the increasingly integrative and mainstream world within the global house of medicine, but with a special set of osteopathic competencies,” said Dr. Veit. “These competencies, as a profession and through our accreditation process and licensing boards, have and will continue to be defined by the osteopathic profession.”

Dr. Veit also discussed the standards the osteopathic profession lives up to today and the profession’s enduring ability to overcome challenges.

“The resiliency of our profession perseveres, grows, adapts and changes,” said Dr. Veit. “Our profession is not defined by how we see ourselves, but how others see us.”

Carrying A.T. Still’s legacy forward

While now facing a future infiltrated by the use of artificial intelligence (AI), Dr. Veit shared that while talking to students about AI, many admitted to using a ChatGPT-like program to pull together their personal statements for their Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) applications. As an experiment, he requested they ask ChatGPT one of his own questions—”what is the future of osteopathic medicine?”

Three seconds later, he had the result. According to the AI program, “The future of osteopathic medicine is promising and exciting. Osteopathic medicine has been growing and evolving since its inception, and it is likely to continue to do so in the coming years.”

When asked about the challenges facing the profession in 2023, the program stated: “Like any health care profession, osteopathic medicine has its own unique challenges that practitioners and organizations must address.”

Dr. Veit admitted that while it’s frightening how much AI programs know about us, it’s important to stay aware of the potential for misinformation and to understand why people believe health information that comes from people who aren’t health care professionals.

“As well-trained health care professionals and scientists, part of our professional duty is to fight every day to prevent the abuse of misinformation,” said Dr. Veit. “Our founder A.T. Still, with his resiliency and truth seeking, has instilled our profession with this quality, and we must carry it forward.”

Watch the full speech in the video above.

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