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AACOM, Coalition for Physician Accountability Release Updated Away Rotations Recommendations

January 25, 2021


(Bethesda, MD)- Joining its fellow members of the Coalition for Physician Accountability, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) today released updated recommendations on away rotations for medical schools and non-U.S. medical school applicants for the 2021-22 academic year. The Coalition is a cross-organizational group of national medical education organizations.

“Like the rest of the world, medical students and colleges have faced unprecedented challenges over the past year and the turn of a calendar page doesn’t make them disappear,” said Robert A. Cain, DO, President and CEO of AACOM.  “Our top priority has to be ensuring the safety of our students while still allowing them to stay on path to graduation.  These recommendations will help the medical education community meet that critical goal.”

The recommendations are an update to guidance published on May 11, 2020, entitled Medical Students in the Class of 2021: Moving Across Institutions for Post Graduate Training. The updated recommendations include the following guidance: 

  1. As recommended in May 2020, the working group recommends that for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year (ending June 30, 2021), away rotations be discouraged, except under the following circumstances:
    1. Learners who have a specialty interest and do not have access to a clinical experience with a residency program in that specialty in their school’s system.
    2. Learners for whom an away rotation is required for graduation or accreditation requirements. 
  2. For the 2021-22 academic year, away rotations resume no earlier than August 1, 2021, with the following guidance:
    1. After April 15, learners may begin applying for and scheduling in-person away rotations with a start date of August 1, 2021, or later.  
    2. Programs hosting learners for away rotations are encouraged to adhere to May 1 as the date to begin processing away rotation applications that begin on or after August 1. 
    3. Given the compressed timeline – paired with an inadequate quantity of electives available for completion – medical schools are encouraged to limit approved away rotations in any specialty to one per learner, except in cases where additional rotations are needed to complete graduation or accreditation requirements. Residency programs are encouraged to take into consideration if a learner exceeded the one-away-rotation limit during the residency selection process. 
    4. Programs may continue to offer virtual electives to provide opportunities for learners to explore the specialty and program.  
    5. The working group will continue to monitor the information and plans to provide an update to the community no later than April 15, 2021, either confirming that August 1 remains an acceptable start date, or creating a new start date. 

These recommendations are intended to contribute to, but not supersede, the independent judgment of a medical school, sponsoring institution or residency program regarding the immediate needs of its patients and preparation of its learners.



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 38 accredited 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.

AACOM provides leadership for the osteopathic medical education community by promoting excellence in medical education, research, and service, and by fostering innovation and quality across the continuum of osteopathic medical education to improve the health of the American public.


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