The American Osteopathic Association (AOA), the national professional membership organization for the nation’s more than 104,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students, applauds members of the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on the Governance and Financing of Graduate Medical Education (GME) for their work on the comprehensive report, Graduate Medical Education That Meets The Nation’s Health Needs. Specific acknowledgment goes out to Barbara Ross-Lee, DO, Vice President for Health Science and Medical Affairs, New York Institute of Technology, for representing the osteopathic medical profession.
Let me get this straight, the woman (Barbara Ross-Lee, DO) that single handedly took apart three osteopathic institutions and removed nearly all of the Osteopathic components of education that made them osteopathic at all including the faculty and the curriculum is being applauded for her leadership and representation of the Osteopathic community at the IOM? Regardless of the accolades, laurels and academic achievement she may have achieved, she does not represent me or Osteopathy in any way that has real meaning.
She has never visibly demonstrated Osteopathic concepts, thinking or applications in any mechanism of education in undergraduate, graduate or post graduate programming. She has used her race and her sex as a weapon in the form of reverse discrimination to lead by fear and intimidation for all who cross her. She has actively tried to suppress discussion of Osteopathic thinking, suppress Osteopathic discussions in academic circles, abused the power and authority of the deans position to attempt to remove people from academic discussions at a national level in the AACOMunities section of Society of Osteopathic Medical Educators (SOME), and diligently worked to reduce or remove Osteopathic education as core to COM development at NYITCOM. She has been actively selecting faculty for and grooming students to be, me too MDs. This has been aggressively launched as an improvement of education campaign at the expense of Osteopathic education and those who disagree are sequentially removed from the theater of education. All of this has been unchallenged to a large degree through the fear she cultivates by hiding behind race, sex and minority status to challenge anyone who has stood their ground against her.
There are a great many who have suffered this fate over the years by her and others like her. She has developed refined methods of shutting people down across all levels of academic freedom of discussion from local to national arenas.
She extinguished two entire OMM faculties (Ohio and New York) entirely because they fought to keep Osteopathy in the foreground of osteopathic education.
It is the last straw for the AOA to play her card in this mess and couch it as a great thing.
As a man of extensive minority background on both sides of my family who has never played that card up to now, and coming from two poor immigrant families, I take offense to this posture and support of a divisive character to our culture who opposes our philosophical integrity as an approach to medical education. One side of my family arrived from Puerto Rico in the United States in 1926 with a heavily mixed race background and cultural heritage. The other side and having Native American heritage and Slavic/Bohemian mixes made us great targets for prejudice and racism which only continues today when I place that information in the foreground. We came from the down trodden and despised-oppressed in this nation. We fought to rise to an apogee in our areas of expertise. Our women over came prejudices to be real leaders who sought only to build professional and respectful positions in both their families and in their professional lives. We have fought to over come prejudice by simply being better at what we do and teaching others to do the same. We have led by example with honesty, integrity and with recognition for all those who have built what came before us. We honored those who created places for growth, education, discourse and security. We have fought against tyranny, censure, prejudice, and fear mongering at every turn.
This travesty must be stopped and the truth must be heard. Noramn Gevitz’ assessment and concepts for slowing the process and measuring the potential effects with an impact study, must be promoted. The ACGME merger must be at the very least re-thought as to the guarantees that the profession will continue to be able to monitor and teach its philosophy and approach to health care un-impeded by the AMA machines. The fact that this process is based on the IOM consensus should be a warning enough due to the biases built into the Financial support of the IOM and also the fact that a consensus is a poor way to do research. an Impact study and pilot programs testing the costs and the repercussions is a far wiser method of doing business. We, the Osteopathic profession, have already done a better job than they have. We are already accepted in places with preference for our students over theirs (allopathic ally trained students), our residents over theirs and attained difficult fellowships over their graduates for good reason.
We need to be in the driver seat on this and not like Dr. Ross-Lee’s message which has always been to become more like them. They need to become more like us in order to be able to do what we do which is actively care for and treat patients, not numbers, not charts and not insurance companies. Dr. Ross-Lee’s self proclaimed measures of success at a National AOA convention Luncheon for success several years ago demonstrated her alliance with AMA thinking. The then NYCOM alumni luncheon was to celebrate our success as she took the helm of the institutions medical education. She valued cars, boats, houses, neighborhoods to live in and how much technology we owned in our homes over the formal and real successes we all felt were truly important, healing, saving lives, quality of life, finding health and successfully treating patients.
The AOA membership is grumbling in the background and not being heard. The HOD was suffocating in terms of opening discussions on two subjects and they still misrepresent the actions at that session just weeks ago.
If there is to be an osteopathic membership in principles then we need to take action and begin requesting the resignation of the entire Executive Board and call for a nationwide full membership vote on ACGME to follow what all the societies who submitted to HOD in their respective resolutions.
What the AOA is not mentioning anywhere is, We need guarantees that the ACGME will leave in place the independence of the Osteopathic community to continue to develop and promote its own educational agenda.We need to have the AOA agree to come into commonality with the ACGME in matters of clinical medicine and basic sciences where the fields are in agreement. We need to have the ACGME agree in writing to allow the Osteopathic Education and distinctiveness we have developed, to continue to be managed by us.
We are the experts in the field and must be accepted as such, period. We need to make the requirements for MDs to participate in our programs equivalent to our own students standards which encompass more than their programs do at this time. We need to have our program directors teach, coordinate and develop new program directors for our programs. We need to guarantee that our program directors are left completely in charge of our programs and that they must be permitted to be involved in advanced professional education to maintain their own level of parallel educational development in health sciences and education while continuing to develop and maintain our uniquely osteopathic components.
We need to be the leaders in medical education for our students because we actually do think differently by training. We need to stand our ground on accepting a wider array of student types, nationalities, sex, and cultures as we always have. We need to continue to train in inner city environments as we always have and support rural health programs as we always have with emphasis for all Osteopathic physicians to have basic training in routine general medicine as we always have.
The emperor has “NEW CLOTHES” has got to be shown for what it is and transparency at all levels in AOA actions is a minimal requirement for all contract negotiations which is exactly what this ACGME Merger proposition is.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. All physicians who are members could very easily do one thing to send a message that is very clear. If you think this MERGER should be left as is, offer to send in twice your dues now, in writing, so that there is enough money to push it through.
If you think that calmer heads are required, that doing an impact study is wise , that piloting some trials and measuring the outcomes first is a wiser way to enter into this with facts and figures that are not hypothetical, that slowing down this process and protecting our culture, heritage and philosophy is important, then request that the AOA send you your dues back NOW, in writing. Post your request for either remuneration of your dues or your report to finically support the ACGME merger on the AAPS website or with the state osteopathic medical society that represents you.
Make yourself heard and don’t be silent. One way or another take a stand and make yourself heard. Then we can all decide what to do next.
AKA Charles J Smutny III, DO, FAAO