SCS helps graduate medical education programs navigate unified system, earn osteopathic recognition

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What defines osteopathic medicine? Manipulative treatment is certainly a core element, but it’s not the only manifestation of the philosophy that makes osteopathic medicine a distinct and unique profession. 

This was a major consideration when the osteopathic and allopathic graduate medical education arms came together in 2014 to announce the beginning of a process that will end in 2020 with a single graduate medical education system. 

One of the myriad issues that they tackled was how to acknowledge the unique aspects of osteopathic medical education. An osteopathic principles committee was formed. Its members (primarily D.O.s) developed requirements for osteopathic recognition (OR) within the single GME system. 

Under this new system, GME programs that achieve initial ACGME accreditation can apply for the added OR acknowledgement to demonstrate a new or ongoing commitment to osteopathic medical education. 

Leaders in the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Statewide Campus System quickly realized the importance of this aspect of the unified system. The SCS has always had an osteopathic principles and practice committee to oversee how graduate medical training programs integrated the osteopathic philosophy into aspects of practice and patient care.

OPP committee members set up a task force to address how the SCS would define osteopathic recognition and support partner hospitals who seek osteopathic recognition. 

“The task force asked the question, ‘How are we going to make it a reality in those residency programs that choose to have that added designation?’” said Kari Hortos, SCS chief academic officer and the college’s interim senior associate dean. 

Four key stakeholder groups were surveyed to explore this question: MSUCOM students (all four classes), residents and faculty members. Based on the results of the survey’s findings the task force members identified three key aspects of osteopathic recognition: biomechanical components, health promotion competencies and physician well-being competencies. 

These findings provided the underpinnings for a set of deliverables that SCS will provide to its residency programs to assist them in moving toward the single GME system and earning the OR designation.

One key deliverable that is already in use is to provide GME programs assistance in earning the OR designation. Once a residency program has earned initial ACGME accreditation, it’s administrators can send the paperwork to the SCS, and staff will use the information to complete the OR application for submission to the ACGME. 

“We capture elements that they completed for their initial accreditation that also meets the needs of osteopathic recognition,” Hortos says. “We use that language—their own words--and then provide what we suggest for their osteopathic recognition application.”

Starting this summer, SCS-affiliated residency programs that have the OR designation and want to accept M.D.s and provide them with D.O. skill set can enroll those doctors in the new “OPP for the M.D.” series.

It’s a two-part program—one part offered in the first year of residency and the second to follow in the next year. The classes progress from an introduction of the three pillars of the osteopathic philosophy to training in using OMT techniques. 

Additional services that are in the works include an osteopathic recognition journal club and an online resource library.  

SCS’s existing chief resident workshops are already incorporating aspects of physician well-being. At the spring program in East Lansing, residents explored topics related to giving feedback, building mindfulness and understanding the neuro-cognitive elements of what contributes to an EQ — the emotional quotient.

While the single GME system might mean a change in the number of osteopathic programs that are available for students, Hortos sees it brimming with opportunities. 

“We may not have as many programs that choose osteopathic recognition going forward,” she says, “but what we will have going forward has far more of a demonstration of what it means to be an osteopathic physician.”