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Advocacy Press Releases

AACOM Strongly Supports Doctors of Community Act to Enhance Primary Care Access

Legislation permanently and sustainably funds the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program, expanding primary care access in rural and underserved communities.


(Bethesda, MD) – The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), a longtime advocate for permanent and sustainable funding for the highly successful Health Resources and Services Administration’s Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) Program, applauds US House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) for announcing the Doctors of Community (DOC) Act. This critical legislation will ensure that the THCGME Program can continue to train doctors and dentists where they are needed most.

“The DOC Act is crucial to expanding primary care access in a targeted, equitable manner that addresses our geographic maldistribution of physicians,” says AACOM President and CEO Robert A. Cain, DO. “By any measure, the THCGME Program has been overwhelmingly effective at training primary care physicians to care for communities most directly impacted by healthcare shortages. The program’s focus on rural and high-need areas ensures that we are expanding access to care where there is the greatest need.”

More than one-third of osteopathic medical school graduates choose careers in primary care, and colleges of osteopathic medicine consistently achieve top rankings in primary care and rural and underserved practice categories.

Since 2011, the THCGME Program, with strong bipartisan support, has fostered the training of more than 1,148 new primary care physicians and dentists. In academic year 2020-2021, their funds have trained 769 residents in 60 primary care residency programs across 25 states. The increased funding provided by the DOC Act will cover 100 new teaching health centers, for a total of nearly 200, and create an estimated 1,600 new resident physician slots, for a total of more than 3,000.

“We know that physicians trained in teaching health center programs are more likely to practice in underserved communities,” says David Bergman, JD, AACOM Vice President of Government Relations. “By ensuring the permanence and longevity of the THCGME Program, the DOC Act will prevent teaching health centers from having to worry about whether they will have the funds to hire new resident physicians, pay their current resident physicians or keep their doors open, year after year.”


The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) leads and advocates for the full continuum of osteopathic medical education to improve the health of the public. Founded in 1898 to support and assist the nation's osteopathic medical schools, AACOM represents all 37 colleges of osteopathic medicine—educating nearly 31,000 future physicians, 25 percent of all US medical students—at 58 teaching locations in 33 US states, as well as osteopathic graduate medical education professionals and trainees at US medical centers, hospitals, clinics and health systems.


Joseph Shapiro
AACOM Director of Media Relations
(240) 938-0746

Christine DeCarlo
AACOM Media and Public Affairs Manager
(202) 603-1026

U.S. Capitol