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AACOM Awarded Grant to Conduct National, First-of-its-Kind Review of Osteopathic Recognition

December 06, 2022


The $420,451 grant aims to better understand Osteopathic Recognition adoption among residency and fellowship programs


(Bethesda, MD) – The Osteopathic Heritage Foundations (the Foundations) approved funding in the amount of $420,451 for the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM). The funding, the Foundations’ largest award to AACOM to date, will support a first-of-its-kind independent, national, large-scale review of the value, demand and impact of Osteopathic Recognition (OR).

“The knowledge gained through this study will be crucial to helping the osteopathic medical education community strengthen the integration of osteopathic principles and practice (OPP) into residency and fellowship programs,” says AACOM President and CEO Robert A. Cain, DO.

OR is a designation conferred by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s Osteopathic Principles Committee upon demonstration, through a formal application process, of a residency program’s commitment to teaching and assessing OPP at the graduate medical education (GME) level.

The study seeks to shed light on the motivations behind the sponsoring institutions and GME programs that have pursued OR, those that have chosen not to apply for OR and those that have withdrawn their recognition. Prior to the transition to a single GME system, which began in 2015, there were 1,200 osteopathic programs in 71 specialties and subspecialties. Currently, only 254 osteopathic programs across 25 specialties and subspecialties (24 percent of expected programs) have completed the pathway to Osteopathic Recognition (OR).

“This study will advance the osteopathic profession by investigating, through an impartial, academic mindset, the challenges, limitations, gaps and interest in continuing to develop OPP beyond undergraduate medical education,” adds Dr. Cain. “The data gathered will inform an overall strategy to encourage meaningful integration of OPP into GME and lifelong practice.”

“Investigating the impact of OR on the GME system and learning environment is essential to informing the continuation of OPP in graduate medical education,” says Osteopathic Heritage Foundations President/CEO Terri Donlin Huesman. “The Foundations commend AACOM for its leadership in pursuing this national assessment that is expected to yield information critical to advancing OPP.”

AACOM’s UME-GME Task Force’s working group, focused on addressing graduate level osteopathic medical education, will oversee the project. After reviewing several proposals, the Task Force selected the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), the nation’s federal health professions academy, analogous to the undergraduate programs of the U.S. military academies at West Point, Annapolis and Colorado Springs, to undertake the independent assessment, citing USUHS’ well-regarded and nationally recognized research function and capacity.

“USUHS will conduct the review of OR using a concurrent mixed methods approach,” says Steven J. Durning, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and pathology at the USUHS and director of graduate programs in health professions education. “Qualitative exploration will be focused on GME program leadership to help understand what barriers exist when applying for OR, why programs withdraw from OR and how leadership changes impact OR adoption and maintenance.”

OR was a key component in the creation of a single accreditation system for GME. Through this grant, an opportunity exists to better understand OR, including its challenges, outcomes and efficacy at influencing the learning environment to promote OPP.


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 more than 35,000 future physicians, 25 percent of all U.S. medical students—at 62 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