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AACOM Launches Course to Enhance Health Equity and Address Health Disparities

July 27, 2022

First of its kind program offered at all colleges of osteopathic medicine

(Bethesda, MD) - Reinforcing its pledge to educate a generation of doctors better equipped to care for diverse patient populations, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) today announced the launching of a new course aimed at supplementing instruction around health equity and health disparities. Part of the AACOM Academic Recognition Program, the course is accessible to every third-year medical student at all colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs) in the United States.

“We are very proud of this program and see it as an important step in our efforts to eradicate the pervasive health disparities that disproportionately affect communities of color and other marginalized populations,” said AACOM President and CEO Robert A. Cain, DO. “It is vital that students leave our schools with the ability to diagnose, treat and heal anyone in need of healthcare. I thank our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group for their leadership in launching this program, and I encourage our students to take advantage of this tremendous resource.”

The AACOM Academic Recognition Program consists of four online courses delivered through AACOM’s Learning Management System. The program has been developed for medical students to complete in their third year of education and is designed to better prepare students for learning in the clinical environment. The first course is specifically focused on inequities and disparities. The following three courses enhance the students’ abilities to recognize and understand circumstances that may contribute to inequities.

“This program is an incredibly valuable and needed tool to ensure our students are prepared to practice medicine anywhere and everywhere, and for everyone,” said Barbara Ross-Lee, DO, chair of AACOM’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group. “Commitments and pledges must be followed up by action, and that is why we are so hopeful and encouraged by the development of this program—a very important step in educating a physician workforce that is reflective of and knowledgeable about the communities they serve.”

Last fall, AACOM and every COM committed to increasing medical student diversity by unanimously recognizing that the systemic inequities of America’s education system are adversely impacting the diversity of osteopathic medical school applicants. The AACOM Academic Recognition Program is the next step in the long-term strategy to break down the barriers preventing us from attaining a more representative and equitable healthcare system.

"By participating in this program, I am better equipped to take care of all of my patients’ needs by providing informed care and understanding more closely what barriers exist for each of my patients,” said Brianne Howerton, a fourth-year osteopathic medical student at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine-Bradenton. “To me, this program is an incredible addition to my core osteopathic education and aligns with our profession's values for a holistic approach to each and every patient."

"Sir William Osler stated, ‘The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.’ Today, as we advance medical practice, the effective physician considers the geobiopsychosocial factors to treat the patient who has the disease," said Ashton Glover Gatewood, a third-year osteopathic medical student at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine-Tahlequah. “AACOM's Academic Recognition Program provides the medical student foundational knowledge for this careerlong undertaking." 


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 colleges of osteopathic medicine—educating nearly 34,000 future physicians, 25 percent of all U.S. medical students—at 60 teaching locations in 34 U.S. states, as well as osteopathic graduate medical education professionals and trainees at U.S. medical centers, hospitals, clinics and health systems.


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

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