AACOM 2012 Annual Meeting Draws High Marks from Attendees 

The recent 2012 AACOM Annual Meeting, "Building Healthy Behaviors: Medical Education for Prevention and Change," drew nearly 500 osteopathic medical college administrators, faculty, students and others to the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC, for three days of learning, networking and planning for the future.

Richard H. Carmona, MD, MPH, FACS, 17th Surgeon General of the United States (2002-2006); Vice Chairman, Canyon Ranch; President, Canyon Ranch Institute; and Distinguished Professor, Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona, delivered the opening keynote address on March 28. The speech, peppered with anecdotes of Dr. Carmona's personal experiences as Surgeon General, focused heavily on prevention as a necessity for the future success of the U.S. health care system. Dr. Carmona championed the idea of moving the United States from a health care system of "sick care," where physicians focus primarily on patients after an illness has emerged, to one of "optimal health care," with an emphasis on keeping patients well through preventive care. He said that to promote such care, more time must be spent educating medical students about prevention and such basic health issues as diabetes and obesity, which are two of the top health crises facing the nation today. In order to fix the problems with health care, Dr. Carmona said, “doctors will need to be primary practitioners of public health.”

A second keynote session featured COL. David W. Sutherland, Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose powerful and moving address highlighted the health care needs of the nation’s military service members and veterans, and their families. Dovetailing with the White-House sponsored Joining Forces initiative launched earlier this year by AACOM and other health professions organizations, COL. Sutherland’s speech underscored the important role that medical education has in preparing the future physician workforce to handle the special needs of veteran and active duty patients. In tune with the patient-centered fundamentals of osteopathic medicine, COL. Sutherland called on attendees to “listen long enough, and the patient will tell you what’s wrong.” In response to the projected rise in cases of depression, PTSD and TBI as members of the U.S. military return home, COL. Sutherland said, “They keep us safe, let’s keep them safe.” Attendees who completed conference evaluation surveys raved about COL. Sutherland’s address; the speech drew the highest number of compliments of any Annual Meeting event.

Miriam Alexander, MD, MPH, Director, General Preventive Medicine Residency; Director, Mid-Atlantic Public Health Training Center, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health; and President, American College of Preventive Medicine, delivered the meeting’s third keynote address, which also featured discussion panelists Janet Head, EdD, RN, MS, KCOM-AHEC Project Director, A.T. Still University of Health Sciences - Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM), and Susan Mackintosh, DO, MPH, Director, Interprofessional Education Program, Western University of Health Sciences. “Health should be health for all,” said Alexander, as she described the importance of public health, and the environmental, socioeconomic and educational factors that affect it. The case study-based panel discussion featured a fictional young boy whose diet and lifestyle had led to obesity and related health problems. Panelists discussed how obesity and diabetes affect Americans from all walks of life, and how an interprofessional approach to health care would be necessary to combat them.

In addition to these keynote sessions, the Annual Meeting included more than two dozen concurrent sessions covering a wide variety of prevention-, behavior- and education-related topics. One such session focused on “Building a Healthy Environment for Medical Students with Disabilities.” Led by Christina Clark, Assistant Director of Disability Accommodations at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Forth Worth/Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNTHSC/TCOM), and Katy Kemp, MEd, Director of the Center for Academic Performance at UNTHSC/TCOM, the session addressed the challenges associated with creating healthy learning environments for medical students with disabilities. According to Ms. Clark and Dr. Kemp, accommodating medical students with disabilities requires collaboration among disability service providers, deans, tutors, professors and student services professionals.  Both speakers stressed that schools could help students with disabilities meet their full potential by providing them with accessible staff and promoting honesty and open communication between staff and students. Raymond H. Curry, MD, Vice Dean for Education, Feinberg School of Medicine, and President, McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University, presented data showing that most medical schools have made accommodations for students with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

This year’s AACOM Leadership Lunch, held for members of the AACOM Board of Deans and leaders of AACOM’s many councils, featured a special presentation by Marc Nivet, EdD, Chief Diversity Officer, Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Dr. Nivet focused largely on increasing the diversity of medical students by making diversity central to the medical school mission. During his speech, Dr. Nivet said that diversity should not be promoted simply because it is the perceived “right thing to do,” but rather, because the objectives of health equity and continual innovation are attainable only through harnessing the resource of variation that diversity affords us.

The annual AACOM Awards Banquet was held on Friday evening, culminating the main conference program. John M. Ferretti, DO, received the Robert A. Kistner Award, in recognition of his significant contributions to osteopathic medical education. Dr. Ferretti, President, CEO and co-founder of the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), has made substantial contributions to both the education of the next generation of physicians and improving health care for the underserved. Under his leadership, LECOM has become the largest medical college in the United States.

AACOM’s Society of Osteopathic Medical Educators (SOME) Innovation in Medical Education Awards recognized the year’s educational innovations that have resulted in meaningful change at the developer’s institution. Awardees included Richard A. Ortoski, DO, Professor and Chair of Primary Care Education at LECOM, for his development of an Enrichment Module for Humanism in Medicine, and Mark A. W. Andrews, PhD, Professor of Physiology and Director of Examination Management at LECOM, for his development of Assessing Basic Medical Science Knowledge During Preclinical Years, and Beyond.

Roberto J. Fernandez, MPH, received the National Student DO of the Year Award, presented each year to the one osteopathic medical student who distinguishes him/herself from all of the nation’s outstanding students on the basis of service to the college, the community and the osteopathic profession. A third-year medical student at Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine (DMU-COM), Mr. Fernandez currently serves as the National Legislative Affairs Representative for the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents (COSGP), the National Student Representative to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Council on Osteopathic Post Graduate Training Institutes (COPTI), his class representative to the DMU Alumni Association, and Founder and Chair of the COSGP Global Health Ad-Hoc Committee.

Finally, each year AACOM works with external expert judges to recognize outstanding communications efforts undertaken by its member colleges, and then selects a Best in Show entry to which special recognition is provided. The A.T. Still University’s Corporate Brand Video earned this year’s Best in Show distinction. Visit AACOM’s website to view all of the awards presented during the banquet.

The meeting concluded on Saturday, March 31, with a Health Professions Recruitment Fair that drew approximately 400 high school, college and post-baccalaureate students; teachers; counselors; and administrators from across the country. Thirty information booths representing colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs), student organizations, other organizations, and AACOM, were present to share information about osteopathic medical education (OME) and other health professions education opportunities.

To view photos, session materials, and other resources from the AACOM 2012 Annual Meeting, visit here.


Inside OME Header
April / May 2012
Vol. 6, No. 4 / 5