Connect and Communicate
Turn down for what?
Historically, the osteopathic profession has met challenges and adversities with renewed passion, increased vigor and a stronger and more viable spirit. When osteopathic physicians were excluded from serving as physicians during the Second World War, the AOA met the challenge head on. As such, by the Korean War, DOs were given the opportunity to work alongside allopathic physicians. Forty years later, an osteopathic physician, Dr. Ronald Blanck, became the Surgeon General of the Army.
In 1960, osteopathic physicians in California could trade their DO designation for an MD degree for $50. It looked like the end of the osteopathic profession; at least in California. However, 200 DOs stood their ground and said, “turn down for what?” They remained osteopathic physicians and continued to fight for full rights. Today, California is home to one of the largest osteopathic communities in the country and two osteopathic colleges.
Many other struggles throughout our history provided the fuel for the flames of osteopathic medicine. These battles fought by those who went before us provided greater opportunities for us to serve the needs of our patients today.
In 2014, a new challenge arose: the single accreditation system. At first, many of us at ACOFP felt this was the beginning of the end of osteopathic education. However, our fears turned to passion and a renewed resolve, that the transition to the ACGME accreditation system would be an avenue to a greater osteopathic profession. The first vital step to success was to ensure a strong and competitive certification pathway. This was not going to be accomplished by simply rewriting an examination, but rather was going to take the cooperative efforts of multiple organizations. With changes in the ACGME policies to accept the AOA certification as equivalent to ABMS, the door was open.
In December 2018, a proposal initiated by the AOBFP in junction with ACOFP announced the Early Entry Initial Certification (EEIC) pathway. This meant that a resident was eligible to sit for an early, shorter examination in February of their third year if they had completed two AOBFP In-Service Exams (ISEs), produced and administered by ACOFP. The AOA approved the plan in June 2019 and the EEIC pathway was launched. In the fall 2019, over 2,700 osteopathic family medicine residents signed up for the AOBFP ISEs; a number that was unimaginable two years before. This program has been successful for one reason; the passion and the cooperation of multiple boards and committees. Those include the AOA, AOBFP, ACOFP and the NBOME, who all came together and hammered out the details. The first EEIC exam will be given next month and the sign-up is going well. Turn down for what?
Essential to the success of the AOBFP ISE and EEIC was acceptance by family medicine residency directors and residents. An ACOFP residency hub structure was conceived to help disseminate information. The logistics were engineered by ACOFP President-Elect Dr. Nicole Bixler and carried out by the ACOFP governors. Each governor was assigned a region of the country and a list of family medicine residency directors and residents. They made direct connections with each and promoted the AOBFP ISE and EEIC. Success by connection and communication.
Throughout this past year, ACOFP has also been in communication with other specialty colleges. We have formed the Coalition of Osteopathic Specialty Associations (COSA) to grow osteopathic specialty colleges, increase member value and together create the future of osteopathic medicine through providing a forum for cooperation between the specialty colleges. Its effort during the last AOA House of Delegates provided a unified voice on the resolutions and other issues.
ACOFP committees have been revised and revamped to provide increased and improved communication between members, staff and leadership. The Knowledge, Learning and Assessment (KLA) Committee has brought the chairs of all the educational committees together to improve our in-person and online osteopathic learning tools. Our OMT video libraries have been updated and new online learning is planned for the future. The most exciting development is that the OMT Boot Camp is going to be offered at the AAFP FMX convention next fall. Connect and communicate.
ACOFP will continue to focus efforts on new and exciting ideas to assist our members in serving their patients. New educational programs are on the horizon. Dr. Bixler is appointing a Task Force on Annual Convention Innovation to look for new and innovative ways to deliver live education, while our KLA and other programs are identifying ways to enhance our online education for those unable to attend the scientific seminars in person. We have designed a new OMT Boot Camp and proposed this to the AOA and AOBFP to be used as a means for maintaining OCC component four. OMM is still the way we connect and treat.
At the AOA House of Delegates in 2014, after much fierce discussion, the resolution to move forward with the single accreditation system passed. The ACOFP President Dr. Carol Henwood gave a passionate speech and stated that despite our concerns, the ACOFP would work to support this decision. I believe that ACOFP has kept its promise and, along with many other osteopathic groups and organizations, has provided a pathway to a brighter and stronger profession. Opportunities are abounding and we have much work to do. Osteopathic physicians will continue to meet the challenges. Turn down for what?