A landmark announcement came in March 2014, with the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) jointly announcing their memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at a consolidated graduate medical education (GME) system. I am going to give a synopsis that merges frequently asked questions, press announcements, and discussions from both houses.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 33 – No 05 – May 2014
What Does This Mean for GME?
There are a great number of questions regarding what this actually means. Essentially, participation in a single accreditation system ensures quality, promotes consistency and efficiency, and strengthens the medical profession as a whole. It does not mean that DOs are no longer learning osteopathic principles or that the MD and DO professions are uniting. The rumor mill has been fraught with “the end is nigh” for osteopathic medicine, which quite frankly is very wrong and shortsighted. What this MOU really means is that the two groups agree that a single standard for quality and consistency is in the best interest of both entities as they look forward to future changes in health care. A unified voice on GME access and funding issues strengthens the influence of all physicians for advocacy on GME issues in Washington, DC, as well as on state and local levels. Everyone agrees that the Affordable Care Act will increase the need for primary care physicians, and yet GME slots and Medicare dollars remain frozen. As partners in GME, we become a much more powerful advocacy group with a nonconflicted voice.
Furthermore, a single accreditation system preserves access to training programs for DOs wanting to transition into an ACGME program after their first year of accredited training, plus strengthens the ability of the ACGME to have more primary care and rural residency training programs. The ACGME has been better at creating specialty programs, whereas the AOA has been better at meeting primary care needs and those of rural America. Uniting the two GME systems brings the best of both worlds together. This provides access to numerous fellowship programs for DOs and numerous primary care programs for MDs. There are MDs who will want to do a residency that was historically osteopathic for myriad reasons, such as to acquire extra training in physical medicine, but I imagine another will be location. If you are an MD and your family is from Metropolis, your parents live in Metropolis, your spouse wants to live in Metropolis, and the only radiology residency in Metropolis is the former osteopathic residency at Metropolis General, then it may quickly find its way to the number-one spot on your match list.