The year is 2025. The landscape is desolate. All osteopathic hospitals have closed, or been absorbed, or restructured. The American Osteopathic Academy of Orthopedics is simply cleaning up and getting ready to close and turn out the lights. ACGME accredited graduates may skip the AOBOS and choose allopathic certification. Our osteopathic medical schools have quadrupled the number of graduates, and new schools are being planned but challenged because of lack of slots for medical education and post- graduate training. Meanwhile the number of osteopathic orthopedic residency slots has been winnowed down significantly by the ACGME requirement.
The AOA has effectively thrown the surgical specialist under the bus. As it stands right now, we are all doomed. Our ability to start new residency programs will be almost impossible, and existing programs will eventually fall by the wayside as their program directors retire, or the painful bureaucracy and timelines of the ACGME take their toll.
We need an alternative method of accrediting osteopathic surgical and orthopedic residency training programs. While this single accreditation system has been good for the majority of the profession, the surgical specialties have been seriously destabilized. While we were once secure and thriving, we are now in danger of extinction. I strongly beseech the AOA, through the AOAO and AOBOS, to allow an alternative method of accrediting osteopathic surgical and orthopedic residency training programs. If this is not possible or not adopted, then a truly radical alternative needs to be considered.
Gregory L. Barnhill, DO