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Mid-Point in the Transition to the Single GME Accreditation System: Progress To-Date

Published by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine

February 28, 2018


Jump to Notable Milestones During the Transition | Timeline | Application Status of AOA-accredited Programs & Institutions | Interactive Dashboard |Key Activities

In February 2014, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) signed an agreement to transition to a single accreditation system for graduate medical education (GME) by July 1, 2020. The transition launched in April 2015, with the application process starting for ACGME institutional sponsorship, and officially on July 1, 2015 for AOA-accredited GME programs to apply for initial accreditation.

Osteopathic GME (OGME) stakeholders have worked hard to ensure that AOA-accredited programs succeed in the new GME environment, and that work is paying off. According to the AOA, 68 percent of AOA-accredited programs have successfully submitted ACGME applications and/or have achieved ACGME accreditation as of January 2, 2018.  The number of programs seeking Osteopathic Recognition (OR) continues to climb with 159 applications submitted as of January 21, 2018. In January, we are halfway (30 months) through the transition process, it is time to reflect on the OGME community’s progress and take a look at the status of AOA-accredited programs today.

Notable Milestones During the Transition

AACOM Ad Hoc Committee on GME Transition

In June 2014, AACOM established a nine-member Ad Hoc Committee on GME Transition. The Ad Hoc Committee was tasked with providing expertise and perspective on osteopathic principles and practices (OPP) to help inform the work of the ACGME’s Osteopathic Principles Committee (OPC) as they set out to establish program requirements for Osteopathic Recognition. In carrying out this work, the Ad Hoc Committee produced a white paper titled “Next Steps for Graduate Medical Education: Osteopathic Graduate Medical Education (OGME) and the Single Graduate Medical Education (GME) Accreditation Systemwhich presents scholarly research on osteopathic medical education (OME) and GME. You can read the full report here.

AACOM Survey of OMS III Student Preference for Osteopathic Recognition

In March 2015, AACOM conducted a poll of third-year students at colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs) who were starting the process of choosing their residency training program. In this survey, third-year students were asked if they would prefer an ACGME program with osteopathic recognition over one without recognition. They were also asked how important osteopathic recognition would be in their rank order of preference for GME programs. DO students overwhelmingly identified OR as a factor impacting their GME program selection, with 70 percent of respondents finding ACGME-accredited programs with osteopathic recognition more appealing than ACGME-accredited programs without osteopathic recognition. AACOM repeated this survey in 2017 and found similar results. You can find both full reports here. The third administration of this survey is currently underway.

Key Advances to Smooth the Transition

The ACGME now includes over 50 osteopathic physicians who serve on ACGME review and recognition committees. Staff and department of Osteopathic Accreditation now is part of the ACGME organizational structure, including a senior vice president of Osteopathic Accreditation and Executive Director of the Osteopathic Principles Committee (OPC) and ONMM Committees.

Changes have also occurred in flexibility adopted by the Review Committees to smooth the transition to the single accreditation system for AOA-accredited programs, students and broader GME community. By May of 2015, several ACGME Review Committees determined that they will accept AOA certification as meeting the board certification requirements to serve as a program director of osteopathic programs seeking ACGME accreditation. This means that an AOA-certified program director may serve without an ABMS member board certified co-program director, provided they meet the other specialty requirements for this role.

The transitional year review committee made a key decision in 2015 to allow for traditional rotating internship programs applying as ACGME transitional year programs with only one sponsoring program instead of two. This decision was an effort to smooth the transition process for AOA-programs.

AOA Board Certification

The ACGME Review Committees in 24 specialties have integrated language on AOA board pass rates to provide clarity and allow graduates of these programs to pursue board certification in their chosen area.In addition, several ACGME Review Committees determined that, during the transition to the single graduate medical education (GME) accreditation system, residency programs in specialties requiring a preliminary clinical year will be permitted flexibility in accepting residents who have completed this training in an AOA-approved program. The Review Committees permitting this flexibility communicated this information through FAQs and/or other communications with program directors in the specialty. View a summary of the Eligibility FAQs for Specialties with a Preliminary Year .

Finally, in March 2017, The ACGME, AACOM and the AOA reached an agreement, giving the AOA restricted authority to allow residents in programs that do not transition by June 30, 2020, the ability to complete accredited training and to advance to board eligibility.

New AACOM Task Force on Clinical Training & the Continuum of Osteopathic Medical Education

AACOM is pleased to announce the establishment of a new task force that will embark on a strategic process of examining and responding to changes in the health care system and in medical education that may impact osteopathic medical education (OME). The task force will examine the current environment, build strategy, and execute initiatives related to clinical training throughout the continuum of OME. Issue-based sub-groups led by task force members will be created and engage experts and thought leaders in medical education. Read more.


The timeline below highlights just a few of the crucial milestones that occurred during the transition process. You can read about other notable events from the SAS transition process in the Key Activities section below. 

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AACOM SAS timeline - 2014 to 2017 Back to Top

Key Activities

Below are a few of the notable decisions, events, and activities that have occurred throughout the SAS transition in reverse chronological order. You can also find more news stories, as well as resources and other pertinent information, on AACOM’s Single GME Accreditation System page.





  • Nov. 2015
    Eligibility of Applicants with AOA-Approved Preliminary Year 

  • Jul. 2015
    Acceptance of AOA-certification for Program Directors

  • May 12, 2015
    New Survey Data Reveal Strong Interest in ACGME Programs with Osteopathic Recognition among DO Students

  • Feb. 23, 2015
    ACGME Announces New Senior Vice President for Osteopathic Accreditation

  • Jan. 14, 2015
    AACOM, AOA Become ACGME Member Organizations


Application Status of AOA-accredited Programs and Institutions

AOA institutions and programs made tremendous progress in transitioning to ACGME accreditation. AACOM utilizes data from the ACGME’s Accreditation Data System (ADS) public site, which includes reports on the number of program, institution and osteopathic recognition applications. Since July 2015, AACOM collected monthly data on the progress of the transition based on ADS.

Institutional Sponsor Applications

As of January 21, 2018, a total of 101 institutional sponsors have submitted applications. Eighty-five of those sponsors have received ACGME accreditation. The institutional sponsor application trend has generally been upward, and most institutional sponsors for AOA programs appear to have submitted applications at this time. 

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Institutional Sponsor Applications for ACGME Accreditation - July 2015 to January 2018

The above chart contains institutional sponsor application data from July 1, 2015 to January 21, 2018 collected through the ACGME ADS public site. Institutional sponsor applications for ACGME accreditation through the SAS first became available on April 1, 2015. Application numbers rose from 37 sponsors in July 2015 to 101 in January 2018. You may also view this chart in the interactive dashboard below.

Program Applications

AOA programs are transitioning to the single GME accreditation system at a steady pace, with a total of 633 program applications submitted to the ACGME as of January 21 of this year. As of July 2015, the AOA reports that 1,244 programs were AOA-accredited.

As of January 21, 2018, almost 500 AOA programs have achieved ACGME accreditation according to the AOA. Of these, 310 programs achieved initial (299) or continued (11) accreditation through the single GME accreditation system transition, while the remaining were accredited by both the AOA and ACGME (dual-accreditation) or were parallel programs prior to the transition. A peak in program applications at the end of 2017 coincides with a January 1, 2018 deadline for applications from programs with a three-year training duration. 

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AOA Program Applications for ACGME Accreditation - July 2015 to January 2018

The above chart contains data on AOA programs applying for ACGME accreditation through the SAS from July 1, 2015 to January 21, 2018, which was collected through the ACGME ADS public site. Applications for ACGME accreditation through the SAS opened to AOA programs beginning on July 1, 2015. Program applications have risen from just 20 in July 2015 to 633 as of January 21, 2018, with 310 AOA programs having achieved accreditation through the SAS at that time. You may also view this chart in the interactive dashboard below.

Osteopathic Recognition Applications

Applications for Osteopathic Recognition (OR), a key part of preserving and enhancing osteopathic principles and practices (OPP) in ACGME, have reached 159 as of January 21; 120 of have achieved initial recognition, 10 received continued recognition and 29 programs await review by the Osteopathic Principles Review Committee (OPC). The next meeting of the Review Committee is April 27, 2018. Please note that these OR program applicant numbers collected from the ACGME ADS public site do not include programs that have applied and not received recognition.

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OR Applications - July 2015 to January 2018

The above chart contains Osteopathic Recognition (OR) application data collected through the ACGME ADS public site between July 1, 2015 and January 21, 2018. The OR application process was opened to all ACGME-accredited programs beginning on July 1, 2015. AOA programs may apply for OR once they receive ACGME accreditation. OR applications rose from just four in July 2015 to 159 by January 21, 2018 with 130 programs earning recognition by that time. Please note that OR application data does not include programs that applied for and did not receive recognition. You may also view this chart in the interactive dashboard below.

Interactive Dashboard

Below is an interactive dashboard built using Microsoft Power BI that depicts ACGME application data collected through ACGME Accreditation Data System (ADS) public site between July 1, 2015 and January 21, 2018. This dashboard is fully interactive with several features to filter, navigate, expand, and share the graphics/tables. 

Click 'full screen mode' icon in lower right to enlarge.

Navigation Bar

  • Access different pages on the dashboard using the forward and back buttons
  • Enter full screen mode using the full screen button or expand a particular graphic using the expand button in the upper right-hand corner of that item
  • Share the dashboard using the share button 

Interactive Features

  • Filter by selecting specific items from the list or graphic.
  • Hold down the control key to select multiple fields in a graphic or check multiple boxes.
  • Hover over items  to see the exact data for that field.

Dashboard Layout

  • Page one: area chart, gauge chart and table illustrating application data for institutional sponsors applying for ACGME accreditation through the SAS.
  • Page two: area chart, gauge chart and table illustrating application data for AOA programs applying for ACGME accreditation through the SAS.
  • Page three: area chart, gauge chart and table illustrating application data for programs applying for Osteopathic Recognition (OR).
  • Page four: area chart and table illustrating combined application data for accreditation and Osteopathic Recognition (OR). 

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