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AACOM’s Task Force on Ethics and Professionalism Shares Finalized Resources and Updates


AACOM’s Task Force on Ethics and Professionalism was formed in 2018 and was led by Chair Margaret Wilson, DO, dean, A.T. Still University Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Co-Chair Timothy Kowalski, DO, vice provost for professional and public relations, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Carolinas. Their charge included evaluating current professional standards and ethics, assessing curricular designs and making necessary recommendations to further strengthen every aspect of the osteopathic medical education system and professional standards. The Task Force produced model policies, curricular resources and instructional videos.

Model Policies

Recently, the Task Force released a new model document, titled AACOM Model Nondiscrimination and Harassment Policy and Grievance Procedures for Students, Faculty and Employees. This model policy is based on the new Title IX Regulations that went into effect on August 14, 2020, and may be used and adopted by AACOM’s member schools to outline their commitment to equal opportunity and provision of a safe and non-discriminatory educational and working environment. As with all of AACOM’s model policies, this document was created as a template and can be customized to fit the institution, whether it is a freestanding college of osteopathic medicine (COM), a COM that is part of a larger university or system, medical center, hospital, clinic or health system. Previously released model policies include the Model Policy on Chaperoning of Patients and Model Policy on Safe Osteopathic Clinical Training.

Curricular Resources

The Task Force has assembled and curated curricular resources for topics including understanding sexual victimization, obtaining consent, understanding victimization/boundary violation by physicians and developing core professional values. Resources include websites, books, peer-reviewed publications and presentations. View the pdf of available resources.

Instructional Videos

Additionally, instructional videos discussing osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) have been created by the Task Force. As a foundational skill of osteopathic medicine, all osteopathic medical students learn to perform OMT. As students learn these skills, taking the roles of both the physician and the patient, the training can raise questions in the minds of students about their comfort when performing or being the recipient of activities that involve skin to skin contact or contact with certain areas of the body. This intersection of educational, professional and sociocultural norms can create conflict that the Task Force aims to address by familiarizing prospective students with what they can expect when learning OMT. The Task Force, with help from member colleges, created short videos introducing students to OMT, osteopathic professionalism and other topics:

With this compilation of model policies, curricular resources and instructional videos, AACOM’s Task Force on Ethics and Professionalism has completed its founding goal of evaluating current professional standards and ethics. With its charge complete, the Task Force disbanded and will become a committee on professionalism in the future. If you have any questions about the Task Force, please reach out to Mark Speicher, PhD, AACOM senior vice president for medical education and research, at mspeicher@aacom.org for more information.