No Restrictions for Away Rotations in 2022-2023 Academic Year

Published February 08, 2022

In May 2020, the Coalition for Physician Accountability (CPA), a cross-organizational group of national medical education organizations (including AACOM), published guidelines recommended by its working group. The guidelines discouraged student travel to away rotations during the 2020-2021 academic year except to fulfill graduation requirements or when a local rotation with a residency program in the student’s specialty of choice was unavailable. Likewise, guidance for the  2021-2022 academic year continued those restrictions with some modifications.

For the 2022-2023 academic year, AACOM joins its CPA partners, in concluding that student travel to away rotations should not be restricted.

Are there restrictions on student travel to away rotations for the 2022-2023 residency application cycle?

Student travel to away rotations for the 2022-2023 residency application cycle will not be restricted. Students may apply to and attend the away rotations that best support their continued learning and ability to interview and match at the residencies of their choice.

AACOM encourages osteopathic medical students to follow the advice of their advisors at member Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (COMs), and to familiarize themselves with the recommendations, if any, from their specialties of interest and, of course, any restrictions or rules governing away rotations at a specific institution.

Will there be any restrictions at the institutional level?

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases and new variants may limit the availability of away rotations at specific institutions. Students are encouraged to reach out to the institutions to which they wish to apply to regarding any restrictions that might exist. Additionally, students are encouraged to check back near the time of their rotation to check the status of the institution’s requirements and restrictions, if any.

With the recent rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations, why were the restrictions dropped?

Most healthcare workers are vaccinated against COVID-19 and case numbers significantly decreased across the nation compared to when  recommendations were initially released in 2020 and 2021. In addition, personal protective equipment is now widely available. AACOM and other groups recognize that students need to work in the current healthcare environment and participate as part of the healthcare team. Preventing medical students from these experiences is detrimental to their overall professional development and readiness for residency.

As experienced in the past two years by students, and based on feedback from member COMs,  access to rotations for students who do not currently have exposure to certain specialties is critical. More and more specialties are requiring specialty-specific letters of recommendation (SLOEs). Students in a geographic area with a limited number of residency programs, particularly in specialties of interest, must leave the network to gain exposure to other programs.

AACOM believes that the limitation of away rotations disadvantages osteopathic medical students merely because of their school’s location or educational model. In addition, we heard from underrepresented students at both DO- and MD-granting schools, students from lesser-known schools, and students who had specific skills and abilities that were difficult to represent in writing (for example, in the ERAS application) or in a virtual setting, that they were also disadvantaged by the travel restrictions.