I’m not sure how many of you have been following the negotiations between the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), but yesterday brought some really good news. In a nutshell, there will now be one accreditation system for both MD’s and DO’s. What this means is that DO’s can now enter MD residencies with greater ease, and MD’s will now be given the opportunity to enter into DO residencies. The main benefit as of right now will be that DO’s will now have greater access to MD fellowships. There were negotiations for a merger around this time last year, but I believe they fell through due to a few disagreements on both sides. The main points (taken from the AOA website) are as follows:
Under the agreement:
· From July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2020, AOA-accredited training programs will transition to ACGME recognition and accreditation.
· There will continue to be osteopathic-focused training programs under the ACGME accreditation system. Two osteopathic review committees will be developed to evaluate and set standards for the osteopathic aspects of training programs seeking osteopathic recognition.
· DOs and MDs would have access to all training programs. There will be prerequisite competencies and a recommended program of training for MD graduates who apply for entry into osteopathic-focused programs.
· AOA and AACOM will become ACGME member organizations, and each will have representation on ACGME’s board of directors.
There is still a lot that I do not understand about the merger, but I am hoping that it will eventually lead to one unified Match. As of right now, current DO students have the option to apply for both MD and DO residencies, but if they match into an osteopathic residency (which is done one month earlier than the allopathic one), they are automatically dropped from the allopathic Match. This is important to me because a number of DO residencies tend to be in northern and rural areas, and I will most likely want to stay in the south. If there is no unified match, then I may have to take a gamble and skip out on the osteopathic match. Having a unified match would mean that I would have more options available to me, and I could apply to more programs. This has not been addressed yet, but hopefully it will be soon.
I still have more research to do on the subject, but for now I am happy with the merger. I feel that it puts both DOs and MDs on a level playing field, and the merger will hopefully bring more awareness to osteopathic medicine. Like I previously mentioned, DO’s have already been able to enter into allopathic residencies, but this merger may make it possible for them to enter into certain programs that were previously biased against them. I am sure that I will update you all with more information as I begin to understand it, but for now, the following links should be really helpful: