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Learn about the transition timeline and what you can expect as you apply for ACGME accreditation and osteopathic recognition.
As the profession continues its transition to a single system of graduate medical education, the AOA remains focused on protecting training pathways for current and future DOs. The following list of FAQs includes questions submitted by program directors who have completed or are currently in the process of completing applications for ACGME accreditation.
There are a number of reasons why we are moving to a single accreditation system. It provides for consistent methods of evaluation and accountability, it enhances opportunities for all resident physicians, and it enhances transparency to outside entities, including the federal government, licensing boards, credentials committees and the public. All of these factors played a role in the AOA, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and AACOM agreeing to transition from separate AOA and ACGME GME accreditation systems to a single GME accreditation system.
The single GME accreditation system is limited to GME. Osteopathic entities including the accreditation of colleges of osteopathic medicine, AOA board certification, and osteopathic licensing examinations are preserved.
The single GME accreditation system also incorporates osteopathic medicine through the addition of Osteopathic Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine (ONMM) as a specialty accredited by ACGME and through the designation of Osteopathic Recognition. All ACGME accredited programs can receive Osteopathic Recognition by offering education in Osteopathic Principles and Practice (OPP).
Since July 1, 2015, AOA-accredited training programs have been eligible to apply for ACGME accreditation. The AOA will cease GME accreditation on June 30, 2020.
To ensure that all resident physicians graduate from an accredited training program, AOA standards have established deadlines for programs to apply for ACGME accreditation. If a trainee cannot complete a program by June 30, 2020, that program must either 1) apply for ACGME accreditation, or 2) stop accepting trainees. If a program does not apply by the deadline, it will not be able to participate in the AOA Match the following February or accept new trainees to begin training the following July. Read more about this policy.
Should an AOA program not achieve ACGME accreditation by June 30, 2020, the AOA, ACGME, and AACOM recognize there may be unique circumstances whereby some programs make a good faith effort to achieve ACGME accreditation but still have not transitioned successfully to ACGME accreditation by that date. An agreement reached by the three organizations in March 2017 seeks to protect resident physicians in such programs or situations by giving the AOA restricted authority to extend the AOA accreditation date to allow any remaining resident physician in such programs to complete training in an accredited program.
The AOA has approved Section X of the AOA Basic Documents for Postdoctoral Training, specifically outlining the policies for AOA program accreditation during the transition to the single GME accreditation system. In addition, the AOA Council on Postdoctoral Training and Program and Trainee Review Council have approved additional policies and processes regarding single GME, which can be found here.
The ACGME has excellent resources–including step-by-step instructions, templates, and tools – for completing your ACGME application. More information can be found here.
The AOA’s Single Accreditation System (SAS) Application Assistance Program supports osteopathic GME programs throughout the single GME accreditation system application process. We can review your ACGME application, help you prepare for your site visit, assist with Continued Pre-Accreditation, and provide guidance for your application for Osteopathic Recognition. For any questions and/or assistance with ACGME applications, including free consultative services, contact the AOA’s Application Assistance Program at (312) 202-8272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pre-accreditation is a status that signifies that an AOA-approved program or institution has submitted an application for ACGME accreditation and is conferred automatically upon submission of an application for accreditation in the ACGME Accreditation Data System (ADS). Continued pre-accreditation is a status given to a program with pre-accreditation and does not achieve initial accreditation upon review by the Review Committee. ACGME initial and continued accreditation is conferred when it is determined by the appropriate ACGME Review Committee that the program or institution is in substantial compliance with the applicable Program Requirements and/or the Institutional Requirements. Learn more about the ACGME accreditation process for AOA programs here and AOA institutions here.
Programs or institutions with ACGME pre-accreditation or continued pre-accreditation must maintain their AOA approval.
The program director must take action to formally withdraw AOA approval by completing the Withdrawal of AOA Approval form, located here.
In 2016, the AOA Board of Trustees approved that an osteopathic physician would be considered eligible to sit for an AOA certifying board with no additional application requirements, if he/she started an AOA accredited program that subsequently transitioned to ACGME accreditation or started a dually accredited program that dropped its AOA accreditation. Once the trainee completes their internship/residency/fellowship, the program must provide a letter verifying the successful completion of the program. This letter must be signed by the DIO/Program Director on institution letterhead and include the program’s ACGME 10-digit accreditation number, specialty, and the trainee’s exact start and end dates of training.
The AOA and AACOM have each nominated three representatives to sit on the ACGME Board of Directors, and will each nominate one more by 2020. These board members participate on the ACGME Monitoring Committee that oversees consistency of decision-making, standard-setting, and process implementation among the ACGME Review Committees.
Further, the AOA has nominated members to all 21 ACGME Review Committees (where there are corresponding AOA-approved programs) and the Osteopathic Principles Committee, and the Institutional Review Committee; thus, over 50 osteopathic physicians now sit on the ACGME’s Review and Recognition Committees that oversee both recognition, and program and institutional accreditation.
The AOA, ACGME and AACOM are committed to protecting residents during the transition to the single graduate medical education (GME) accreditation system. The terms of the new system require that the AOA no longer accredit GME programs after June 30, 2020.
The three organizations recognize there may be unique circumstances whereby some programs make a good faith effort to achieve ACGME accreditation but still have not transitioned successfully to ACGME accreditation by that date. An agreement reached by the three organizations seeks to protect resident physicians in such programs or situations so they have the ability to complete AOA-accredited training and advance to AOA board eligibility.
The agreement will give the AOA restricted authority to extend the AOA accreditation date to allow any remaining resident physician in such programs to complete training in an accredited program. The AOA Council on Postdoctoral Training (COPT) and AOA Program and Trainee Review Council (PTRC) are currently developing a structure for AOA accreditation of GME programs after 2020.
The councils for will look at each program/resident on a case-by-case basis to determine the appropriate route to complete training. Please direct questions related to this agreement to email@example.com.
The single accreditation system is strictly limited to GME and does not include board certification or medical school accreditation. The AOA believes it is important to the public for DOs to demonstrate competency in osteopathic principles and practice through osteopathic board certification.
The ACGME Board of Directors recently approved changes which incorporate AOA board certification throughout the ACGME Common Program Requirements. AOA board certification is codified as a valid and appropriate credential for ACGME program directors and faculty. The Common Program Requirements, recognizing that osteopathic graduates may take osteopathic certifying boards, also incorporate AOA board pass rates, along with ABMS pass rates, for program assessment. In addition, program directors are also required to inform applicants of their eligibility for relevant specialty board examinations, including AOA board certification.
The AOA Opportunities database displays all current AOA program’s current status within the single accreditation transition process. A list of former AOA programs no longer listed in Opportunities that have transitioned to ACGME accreditation is available here.
A list of sponsoring institutions and programs that applied for ACGME accreditation through the single GME accreditation system is also available on the ACGME website.
AACOM provides reports on osteopathic medical GME placements, which reports that the osteopathic medical match rate remains over 99%. You can review the AACOM’s reports by graduation year here.
The AOA has a mechanism for DOs to have their ACGME PGY 1 training recognized as AOA approved, which is sometimes referred to as Resolution 42. This will remain available for the foreseeable future for DOs completing, or who have already completed, ACGME training seeking licensure in in states that require an AOA approved first year of training.
Program size is not a sole criterion for denying or withholding ACGME accreditation. The program may receive a citation for not meeting size requirements, but would achieve accreditation if the Review Committee determined the program was in substantial compliance with the program requirements.