By Wolfgang Gilliar, DO
Osteopathic Medicine is in the midst of exciting and rapid change—our colleges are expanding faster than ever before, more students are gravitating to our schools and just last week, the 2015 NRMP match revealed the highest match rate for osteopathic students and graduates in history.
The Match events conclude a time of much anxiety and anticipation for our colleges and osteopathic graduating students. But shortly thereafter, this anticipation for many will be replaced by the now quickly approaching transition to the single graduate medical education (GME) accreditation system—in fact, in about three months, osteopathic residency and fellowship programs will begin to apply for ACGME accreditation.
In early June 2014, I had the pleasure of working with and chairing, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine’s (AACOM) Ad Hoc Committee on GME Transition. The nine-member committee of fellow Deans of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and experts in Osteopathic Graduate Medical Education (OGME) initially sought to provide its perspective on standards for recognizing GME programs with osteopathic focus and admitting and training MDs in these programs within the single GME accreditation system.
The members of the Committee are to be commended for their dedication, vision and for developing a high quality report. After numerous meetings and deliberations spanning a period of seven months, the Committee’s work culminated in a visionary and scholarly report that takes a look back at osteopathic medicine’s role in GME, and a look forward at its role within the new single accreditation system.
The White Paper, Next Steps for Graduate Medical Education: Osteopathic Graduate Medical Education (OGME) and the Single Graduate Medical Education (GME) Accreditation System, is a thoughtful and progressive report exploring the future of osteopathic GME in light of the momentous transition to a new accreditation system.
To some extent, one of the salient points in this report is the importance of OGME to the continuum of osteopathic medical education and to our colleges. Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (COMs) are the bedrock and first opportunity for osteopathic medical students to understand and hone their skills in Osteopathic Principles and Practice (OPP). But our work does not end there; it is vitally important to our schools and students to continue learning and developing their skills through osteopathically-focused residency programs.
What may not be as evident is that COMs have a responsibility enforced by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA)—the authorizing body for our colleges—to prepare students to meet the competencies to successfully enter into and complete GME training. Furthermore, COCA standards also require schools to establish relationships with GME partners to enable students to be placed into GME programs. Therefore, GME is a critical component of how success is defined for COMs.
The ACGME Osteopathic Principles Committee (OPC) has now developed and published the program requirements for Osteopathic Recognition for all ACGME programs. The OPC’s work and “Osteopathic Recognition” form a road map to the future of OGME; a tool to ensure that OPP competencies are maintained and given a platform to influence graduate medical education as a whole.
The success of the integration of OPP into the single accreditation system not only requires these standards for Osteopathic Recognition but also calls on the commitment among osteopathic program directors, hospitals, institutions, COMs, specialty colleges and others, to ensure that osteopathic GME continues to thrive within this new system. Through this collaborative approach, we can assure a clear pathway for our students to continue their training in the osteopathic medical education track; one they chose when they first entered our medical schools.
Dr. Wolfgang Gilliar is Dean of New York Institute of Technology’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYIT-COM), and Chair of AACOM’s Ad Hoc Committee on Graduate Medical Education Transition.