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BRETT BUCHANAN


MEDICAL EDUCATION


Uniqueness in unity MDs, DOs pursue accreditation merger BY AMY LYNN SORREL For


decades, allopathic and osteopathic residency pro- grams followed two sepa- rate paths to accreditation. Now those two paths may merge as the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medi- cal Education (ACGME) and the American Osteo- pathic Association (AOA) discuss a single, unified accreditation system for graduate medical educa- tion (GME) beginning in July 2015. On the road there, the


nation’s 10,000 GME pro- grams — 9,000 allopathic and 1,000 osteopathic — will consolidate under one roof. That roof will be the ACGME, but the entity traditionally responsible for accrediting allopathic residency programs will ex- pand to include leadership from the osteopathic com- munity, namely the AOA and the American Associa- tion of Colleges of Osteo- pathic Medicine (AACOM). The move will modify


anything, beneficial in re- ducing duplications and some costs.


Osteopathic residents Myles Jaynes, DO, left, and Sean Hopper, DO, right, learn the profession’s special approach to patient care from Steven L. Gates, DO, director of medical education at Bay Area Corpus Christi Medical Center. He doesn’t want his residency program to lose that distinction.


ACGME’s governance as the organizations create a common system. Because current ACGME standards largely will be the framework for the new model, the changes will mostly affect osteopathic programs and certain organizational elements of the ACGME, GME leaders say. Allopathic programs would open their doors wider to osteopathic graduates with the cre- ation of a common pool of residency slots. For the six Texas training programs dually accredited by ACGME and AOA, the impact likely will be minimal, and if


But for stand-alone, community-based osteo- pathic residency programs like the one Steven L. Gates, DO, runs as direc- tor of medical education at Bay Area Corpus Christi Medical Center, the an- nouncement invites ques- tions about the fate of such programs in Texas and elsewhere — and their res- idency slots — if they fall short of the new accredita- tion standards. “We are always looking at ways to improve the quality of the health care we provide. I would em- brace any new format that does that, as long as it also preserves the uniqueness and distinctness of the os- teopathic philosophy,” Dr. Gates said. “Many [osteo- pathic] programs are com- munity based, and this uniqueness will need to be addressed. Fortunately, our programs have been grow-


ing, and our hospital has been supportive of our growth.” He added that some rural programs “may have issues” meeting the new standards, however, if they do not have access to cer- tain resources.


Medical education leaders say the collaboration is an oppor- tunity to improve the quality and efficiency of GME programs during heightened scrutiny on a number of fronts, including Congress, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the recently-established Institute of Medicine Committee on


January 2013 TEXAS MEDICINE 43


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