The AOA, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) have entered into discussions with the goal of creating a single, unified accreditation system for graduate medical education programs in the United States beginning in July 2015. During the coming months, the three organizations will work toward defining a process, format and timetable for ACGME to accredit all osteopathic graduate medical education programs currently accredited by the AOA. The AOA and AACOM would then become organizational members of ACGME.
The agreement follows more than a year of advocacy work by the AOA to preserve DOs' access to ACGME programs. View a timeline of the AOA's involvement in this process.
Leadership of the AOA, the ACGME and AACOM have formed a Joint Task Force to oversee the process of creating a single GME accreditation system. The task force met on Feb. 25 to continue its discussions related to the proposed unified accreditation system. The task force is working to develop an overarching Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and outlining priorities each organization would like to see reflected therein. We expect the MOU to set up a conceptual framework, but be a work in progress, so that there will be various amendments as subsequent details are worked out. Significantly, in order to keep the process moving forward, the Joint Task Force agreed during the meeting to set up more frequent meetings, including a planned monthly conference between organizational staffs as well as task force meetings once every two months to discuss progress and resolve stumbling blocks. We anticipate the MOU going to the ACGME Board of Directors at its June 2013 meeting and to the AOA Board of Trustees at its July 2013 meeting.
By the Numbers
Currently, the ACGME accredits over 9,000 programs in graduate medical education with about 116,000 resident physicians, including over 8,900 osteopathic physicians. The AOA accredits more than 1,000 osteopathic graduate medical education programs with about 6,900 resident physicians, all DOs.
The transition to a unified system would be seamless so that residents in or entering current AOA-accredited residency programs will be eligible to complete residency and/or fellowship training in ACGME-accredited residency and fellowship programs.
We have a great deal of work remaining before us to ensure that a unified GME accreditation system preserves the uniquely osteopathic elements of GME while protecting DO access to all GME programs. While we have received many statements of support from the AOA family about these discussions, we recognize that others have concerns and questions must be answered before a final agreement can be reached.
Among the topics of discussion for the three organizations over the coming months:
Modification of ACGME accreditation standards to accept AOA specialty board certification as meeting ACGME eligibility requirements for program directors and faculty;
Programs in graduate medical education currently accredited solely by the AOA will be recognized by the ACGME as accredited by the ACGME; and
Participation by the AOA and AACOM in accreditation of programs in graduate medical education accreditation to be solely through their membership and participation in the ACGME.
"Americans deserve a health care system where continuously improving the quality of care and the health of our patients is the driving force," stresses AOA President Ray E. Stowers, DO. "A unified accreditation system creates an opportunity to set universal standards for demonstrating competency with a focus on positive outcomes and the ability to share information on best practices."