AOA Leadership

New AOA President Ira P. Monka, DO, MHA, FACOFP, will focus on AOA membership and AOA board certification this year

Dr. Monka has created workgroups to evaluate strategies to bolster membership as well as board certification.


The AOA’s 103rd House of Delegates (HOD) annual meeting drew more than 1,100 osteopathic physicians, medical students, delegates and guests to Chicago in July, where Ira P. Monka, DO, MHA, FACOFP, was installed as the AOA’s 127th president during the weekend’s most anticipated event.

During his inaugural address, Dr. Monka shared how working as an osteopathic family physician for Atlantic Health Systems in New Jersey for the past 38 years, in addition to taking on other roles, such as chair of the family medicine department and Atlantic ACO, prepared him as a leader.

“I worked tirelessly to establish one of the largest multispecialty groups within the Atlantic Health System—we grew our practice year after year and always maintained the highest level of professionalism and patient satisfaction. This growth and the challenges that came with it taught me a lot and made me the leader I am today,” said Dr. Monka. 

He also acknowledged that the opportunities he had this year to represent the AOA at state and specialty affiliate organizations gave him the knowledge and experience to easily step into his new role as president.

Presidential priorities

Developing and implementing strategies to enhance the value of AOA membership, including long and short-term membership recruitment and retention programs, will be a high priority for Dr. Monka during his presidential year. Another big priority for the year will be to refine the process of AOA board certification, focusing on osteopathic distinctiveness, user-friendliness and cost-effectiveness.

One major goal is to further position osteopathic certification as the preferred pathway for all DOs.

This year Dr. Monka initiated two workgroups—one for membership and the other for board certification—to evaluate strategies to improve growth in these areas. These established workgroups are made up of 20 members each and include students, residents, new physicians in practice and seasoned veterans.

Osteopathic state and specialty affiliates were identified as key stakeholders to position AOA board certification as the premier choice for DOs and to drive Osteopathic Continuous Certification (OCC) enhancements for current diplomates.

Dr. Monka committed to creating a strategic budgeting process to ensure expenditures of the AOA’s resources are linked to the organization’s strategic plan. He also pledged to continue establishing strong working relationships with key strategic partners with the goal of advancing osteopathic medicine on a national level and positioning DOs as innovative leading medical experts.

Lifestyle and fitness

Dr. Monka’s message wasn’t all business, though. He addressed lifestyle and shared a bit about his personal journey with fitness. Prior to the pandemic, he was out of shape, considered obese, fatigued and had hypertension and sleep apnea before committing to making significant lifestyle changes a few years ago.

Sharing three key points from a recent seminar on health and wellness, he suggested attendees take note.

The takeaways, Dr. Monka shared, include:

  1. Take care of yourself. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are critically important.
  2. Emotional support. Get it from your partner, family, friends, fellow students and colleges. And return it. 
  3. Spiritual support. Get it in whatever way works for you.

He talked about completing his 1,000th workout using a Peloton bike and proudly shared a congratulations video from the organization.

“Peloton helped me reach my goals. Slow, steady changes can create lifelong changes that will improve you physically, mentally and spiritually,” he said.

‘A noble calling’

He encouraged everyone to ask themselves what A.T. Still, DO, MD, might ask: “Do we practice osteopathically, and do we live every day as an example of what an osteopathic physician should be?” 

He added that it’s a question DOs should ask themselves every day.

“We have a responsibility to take care of the physical and mental well-being of those in our care. This is a noble calling and one that requires dedication, compassion and a commitment to lifelong learning,” he said.

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