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Benchmarks of Value – August 26, 2013

August 26, 2013

Hello everybody:

As recently as last winter, during a commentary about Match Day in COMP, I told our DO students that just two years from then, in 2015, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) were scheduled to discuss joining forces in a unified accreditation for Graduate Medical Education (GME) programs across the United States.

In addition to taking pressure off the matching process for fourth-year medical students, the unification was expected to provide physicians with a uniform path of preparation for practice, and ensure that evaluation and accountability for residents’ training were consistent across the country.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, the two organizations have been unable to reach an accord on the specifics of the unification, and recently announced they would continue to operate independently.

While this outcome is disappointing, I want to reassure osteopathic medical students on both of our campuses, and any would-be osteopathic physicians reading this message, that the future of osteopathic medicine, education, and practice is bright and growing.

WesternU will continue to advocate for unified accreditation. In the meantime, our students and graduates will continue to have excellent opportunities for training and education. All 67 residencies and fellowship training programs in WesternU/OPTI-West, comprising 832 total training positions throughout the United States, will be unaffected by the absence of unified accreditation. What’s more, WesternU – which is one of the nation’s leaders in development of osteopathic resident training programs – will continue to work toward the expansion of existing programs and the creation of new ones, and will encourage AOA residency programs to develop their own fellowships.

I also would remind everyone that one of the distinguishing features of osteopathic medicine is its emphasis on primary care, which will take on an even more critical role as the provisions of the Affordable Care Act take full effect over the next few years. As more than 60% percent of osteopathic medical graduates gravitate toward primary care, they will be in position to help meet the health care needs of a tremendous increase in newly insured patients, especially in rural areas. No ACGME fellowships are needed to accomplish this. Moreover, DO graduates still have the chance to pursue AOA residencies in surgery and other subspecialties.

Regardless of whether unified accreditation takes place now, later, or never, the important thing to remember is that WesternU’s students in COMP and COMP-Northwest, and indeed across our entire University, receive a first-rate health sciences education that positions them to be leaders across the spectrum of health care. We remain committed to improving health in our communities by ensuring that our students receive the finest post-doctoral training, and will work to expand and improve those opportunities whenever and wherever possible.

As always, I welcome your feedback on this topic and any others as we discuss WesternU’s Benchmarks of Value, and our plans. Please e-mail me with your thoughts at ppumerantz@westernu.edu, and feel free to share this message with your family and friends.

My best to you all,