by Joel M. Feder, DO, FACOFP dist.

At one point in all of our professional medical careers, we were faced with the decision of whether or not to pursue board certification. While board certification isn’t required to practice osteopathic family medicine, it can certainly help distinguish one practitioner from another.

I’m proud to say that I took my AOBFP boards in 1988 and have maintained my certification since then. As I look back on my career, I can positively state that obtaining American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians (AOBFP) certification was one of my best decisions.

A Monumental Change

2020 has been a challenging year for many reasons. COVID-19, the fluctuating economy, civil unrest and uncertainty regarding the upcoming election have impacted most of our personal and professional lives somehow.

In addition to these national and global challenges, our osteopathic community experienced a monumental change this year. As of July 1, 2020, all DOs and MDs began training under a single graduate medical education program: the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Many osteopathic leaders believe this new program could lead to a decline in medical students and residents pursuing careers in osteopathic medicine. With fewer osteopathic family physicians, the patients in traditional osteopathic communities (i.e., rural and underserved) could ultimately suffer.

As ACOFP members, we must encourage and cultivate the next generation of primary care physicians to pursue osteopathic careers while becoming certified through AOBFP.

Maintaining Osteopathic Distinctiveness

AOBFP is the only organization that offers certification in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). As DOs, we are trained to promote the body’s natural tendency toward self-healing and health. Often this self-healing can be accomplished through OMT. What makes us unique from our allopathic colleagues is our ability to treat patients through various therapies, including OMT.

Unfortunately, residents are no longer required to take both the cognitive and practical OMT AOBFP exams. As of July 1, 2020, the OMT board certification exam is now optional. Individuals may still become certified in OMT, but with it no longer a requirement, the number of residents pursuing this certification may decline dramatically.

To further support osteopathic distinctiveness, encourage residents to take both the cognitive and practical, and relieve some of the financial burden of residents entering the field, the ACOFP Education & Research Foundation is providing up to $1,400 in reimbursement for travel and exam fees though its Initial Certificate Grant program. Eligible residents must register to take both the AOBFP cognitive and practical and must not have complete financial support from their program. Learn more.

The Future of the Profession

Osteopathic medicine has faced countless threats over nearly 150 years of existence. The choices that the current generation of family medicine residents make today could have a dramatic impact on the future of our profession.

To ensure osteopathic family medicine remains a viable profession for decades and centuries to come, ACOFP members must come together as a community to encourage residents and medical students to pursue osteopathic certification through AOBFP.

The time is now to ensure osteopathic distinctiveness!

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