The Irony of Osteopathic Medicine and Primary Care

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Abstract

Osteopathic medicine is strongly identified with primary care. In the past 20 years, several factors have influenced this relationship, resulting in significant changes in the postdoctoral training of doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs). Growth in colleges of osteopathic medicine spilled over into postdoctoral programs of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), creating a number of consequences. More than ever, osteopathic physicians are filling voids in ACGME primary care residency positions left vacant by U.S. medical graduates. Many allopathic primary care residencies have created parallel-accredited (American Osteopathic Association/ACGME) programs in hopes of tapping into this supply of DOs. In turn, osteopathic training institutions have shifted their educational emphasis in support of nonprimary care residencies. As a result of these changes, there is a strong element of irony in the underlying reasons for osteopathic medicine's link to primary care, why osteopathic training institutions are emphasizing specialty residencies, and the new responsibility of allopathic programs in training the next generation of primary care DOs.

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