Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH

Working with Colleagues to Advance Osteopathic Medical Education

Throughout their years in medical school, osteopathic medical students are reminded frequently of the need to collaborate with one another, and with other health care professionals, in order to achieve the best possible health outcomes for their patients. And the same can be said about AACOM—we are most successful in representing U.S. osteopathic medical education when we are working with others to meet shared goals. Thus, I thought I might take time to chronicle some of our more recent collaborative efforts that are underway, and to highlight the partnerships that are making a difference to the entire osteopathic medical community, from students to practicing physicians and beyond.

For decades, AACOM has worked closely with many organizations to advance osteopathic medical education. For example, we work particularly closely with our sister organization, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA)—on issues of concern to the nation’s osteopathic medical profession. Over the past several years, the two organizations have embarked on deliberative efforts to gather representatives from across the osteopathic profession and the osteopathic medical education community to explore current and future issues, and to determine how osteopathic medical education should respond and evolve. The most recent of these efforts was the formation of the joint Blue Ribbon Commission for the Advancement of Osteopathic Medicine (BRC) to identify unique opportunities for the osteopathic profession to offer leadership in medical education so as to improve the health of the U.S. population in the 21st century. 

AACOM’s close relationship with the AOA extends beyond these gatherings to growing numbers of additional activities. Most recently, for example, AACOM and the AOA have collaborated in opposition to proposed cuts to graduate medical education funding. Throughout the work to sustain and improve the funding for graduate medical education, AACOM has collaborated with a number of other organizations as well, as evidenced by the numerous collaborative letters on this issue, which we have posted on our website. And earlier this year, AACOM, the AOA and the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME) worked together to create an osteopathic  graduate medical education match outcomes report similar to the NRMP-AAMC's "Charting the Outcomes of the Match," which provides characteristics of students successfully competing in the ACGME match, by specialty (see related item, below).  

In 2009, AACOM held its first joint Annual Meeting with the Association of Osteopathic Directors and Medical Educators. The joint meeting proved so popular that a second Joint AACOM & AODME Annual Meeting, “Meeting Future Health Care Needs: The Role of Interprofessional Education,” was held last April, attracting the highest attendance ever recorded by either association. More than 660 osteopathic medical (COMs) students, faculty, staff, physicians and residency directors participated in the meeting. Plans call for repeating the joint meetings every other year.

Reaching out beyond the osteopathic medical community, AACOM has been collaborating for several years with five other health professions education associations in an effort to develop a competency statement on Interprofessional Education. Representatives from the organizations (AAMC, American Dental Education Association, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the Association of Schools of Public Health, and AACOM) formed a working panel, which under the leadership of Madeline H. Schmitt, PhD, RN (Professor Emeritus, University of Rochester School of Nursing), produced “Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice.”  A formal release of their report took place at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on May 10, 2011. The report is available here

In addition to this interprofessional education work, an interdisciplinary working group of 10 health professions organizations has been working for several years to promote the understanding and practice of interprofessional professionalism. The working group has created a website (click here); finalized an article describing its work, which has been accepted by the Journal of Allied Health; and created an instrument for measuring interprofessional professionalism, which has been reviewed by experts from each of the participating organizations for final update by the working group. The working group is now organizing a field test of the instrument.

AACOM staff has also collaborated with government and other policy-making organizations. One example of this work came to fruition when the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET) recently released the presentation, “Putting Prevention into Practice,” which was developed with assistance from AACOM staff and members.  The ppiplong presentation focuses on teaching students (and others) to use electronic tools to incorporate prevention into clinical practice, and is available for use by those teaching at the COMs or as a self-directed teaching tool.

Each of the nation’s 26 colleges of osteopathic medicine show strong ties with external colleagues as well. Whether it be in work with local agencies or through missions to distant destinations, our schools’ dedication to service beyond their campus walls is admirable.  

These are just a few examples of how AACOM is partnering with many other health professions education associations, policy makers, foundations and the nation’s colleges of osteopathic medicine. I invite you to visit our website and explore all the partnerships we are pursuing on behalf of the nation’s osteopathic medical education community to ensure that the interests of educators, students and osteopathic physicians are heard and considered in a host of critical education and policy arenas as we strive to improve the health of the American public.

Inside OME Header
November 2011
Vol. 5, No. 11