Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH
A Decade of Growth in Osteopathic Medical Education
As the colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs) celebrate the achievements of their new alumnae with commencement ceremonies and graduation events (see related article), I would like to take a moment to commend all of the newly-graduated DOs on their accomplishment. Completing medical school is an important undertaking, requiring a great deal of discipline, passion, sacrifice, and—for lack of a better term—grit, and deserving of celebration.
I would like to extend a special congratulations to the two COMs celebrating their first graduations: Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Carolinas Campus (VCOM-CC) in Spartanburg, SC and the Western University of Health Sciences/College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest (WesternU/COMP-Northwest) in Lebanon, OR. Both colleges opened their doors to their inaugural classes in 2011.
Considering all that is asked of our students during their time in medical school, I take pause to reflect upon the remarkable growth osteopathic medical education has experienced in the past decade. This year, approximately 5,200 medical students graduated from a U.S. college of osteopathic medicine—that is 92 percent higher than the number of COM graduates recorded in 2006.
Of this year’s roughly 5,200 graduates, 99.41 percent of those seeking a graduate medical education (GME) slot in this year’s matching process were successfully matched into a residency position—the highest match rate for osteopathic medical students to date.
Just 10 years ago, the United States was home to 23 colleges of osteopathic medicine and branch campuses. Since that time, 19 COMs and branches have opened their doors to eager medical students across the nation, bringing the totals to 31 colleges at 44 campus and teaching locations in 29 states. This year alone, the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine at New Mexico State University (BCOM) in Las Cruces, NM was granted accreditation by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) and is now accepting applications for its fall 2016 inaugural class, and the Joplin, MO campus of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine received approval from COCA to accept students as early as 2017.
This expansion, along with the growing awareness of osteopathic medicine, has served as a major contributing factor in the increase of students applying to and entering osteopathic medical schools. Today, more than 25 percent of all first-year U.S. medical students are now studying at osteopathic medical schools. This fall, 2015, the nation’s colleges of osteopathic medicine will offer instruction to some 6,950 new medical students.
I am honored to serve as a leader in the osteopathic medical education community today, particularly as AACOM expands its collaborative efforts with its member colleges, partners on the Hill, and leaders in the health professions community in order to position osteopathic medicine as a significant partner in efforts to address the nation’s health care needs. As our graduating students move on into the next steps in their careers, I look forward to the promising future of our profession knowing that the nation’s COMs have prepared them to serve as leaders in their fields and act as stewards of the values and pillars of osteopathic medicine: supporting quality and innovation in research and practice, a strong foundation in primary care, a focus on patient-centered principles, and the goal forming hands-on physician-patient partnerships aimed at working together to achieve and maintain good health and well-being.
Congratulations to the DO graduates of 2015!