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AACOM Spearheads Bill to Support Residency Fairness for DOs

September 15, 2022


Bipartisan legislation requires federally funded graduate medical education (GME) programs to equitably accept and assess DO and MD residency candidates


(Bethesda, MD) – Today, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) applauds U.S. Representatives Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Sam Graves (R-MO) for introducing the Fair Access in Residency (FAIR) Act.

“We appreciate Reps. Harshbarger, Pingree and Graves’ effort to address the unfair barriers and discrimination that osteopathic medical students face when applying to federally funded residency training,” said AACOM President and CEO Robert A. Cain, DO. “Ensuring that osteopathic medical students have an equitable path to residency not only reflects the spirit of single accreditation, which was designed to increase access to residency programs for both DOs and MDs, but it also addresses persistent and prevalent biases against osteopathic medical students, many of whom will go on to care for patients in rural and medically underserved communities. We also thank the 29 and counting national and state organizations who are supporting this vital bill.”

According to National Resident Matching Program data, 36 percent of residency program directors never or seldom interview DO candidates. Furthermore, the American Medical Association’s Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database Access shows that 32 percent of residency programs mandate that osteopathic medical students take the MD licensing exam, even though the DO licensing exam grants physicians unrestricted practice rights in all 50 states.

The FAIR Act requires government funded GME programs to: (1) report annually the number of applicants for residency from MD- and DO-granting medical schools and how many such applicants were accepted from each respective type of school and (2) affirm annually that they accept applicants from MD- and DO-granting medical schools and that if an examination score is required for acceptance, the MD and DO licensing exams will be equally accepted.

“I am proud to help lead legislation that has the ability to transform accessibility to DOs across the country and strengthen our physician pipeline, especially in rural and underserved areas. It’s more critical now than ever that we ensure our taxpayer-funded residency training programs are equally deploying all the best talent of tomorrow’s doctors and specialists, from both DO and MD educational backgrounds,” said Rep. Harshbarger. “This bill is an important step toward ensuring transparency and equality in our taxpayer-funded GME programs, with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of physicians trained and serving our communities.”

“As one of the fastest growing health professions in the country, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine provide essential care in our communities, particularly in rural and underserved areas. It’s ridiculous that osteopathic medical students are facing discrimination and extra hurdles to accessing federally funded residency programs. The FAIR Act will help to ensure more accountability from these programs,” said Rep. Pingree. “I’m proud that so many dedicated DOs are being trained in Maine and across the country. We should be helping them serve patients without unnecessary barriers, which is exactly what this legislation aims to do.”

“North Missouri is the home to A.T. Still University in Kirksville, MO, the birthplace of osteopathic medicine, which continues to train the next generation of DOs,” said Rep. Graves. “In a day and age when doctors are in short supply, specifically in rural areas, it’s critical they are able to complete their training and begin practicing. Yet, many times osteopathic medical students aren’t even considered for taxpayer-funded residency programs. Rural healthcare needs the services and expertise of DOs like never before and this bill will remove some of the hurdles which can keep them from taking the next step in their training.”

Osteopathic medical students represent 25 percent of our country’s future physicians. A significant number of these students will practice primary care in rural and underserved communities. Removing the unjust barriers to federally funded residency training that osteopathic medical students face is vital to improving patient health and healthcare access.


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 approximately 36,500 future physicians, 25 percent of all U.S. medical students—at 61 teaching locations in 35 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 Senior Manager of Media and Public Affairs
(202) 603-1026