2023 was a record-setting year for residency placements for individuals pursuing doctor of osteopathic medicine degrees with 99.5 percent of the 7,776 graduating medical students being matched, according to an April 24 news release from the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.
Osteopathic medical students are reportedly interviewed — and selected — for residency programs at a lower rate than MD students, according to the release. Thirty-two percent of resident program directors were found to “never or seldom interview” DO candidates for positions. Though if they do, 56 percent of the time, the MD licensing exam is still required, which often becomes a second exam students must take, adding to students’ financial burden in some cases.
“With our nation facing a massive physician shortage, these arbitrary and outdated obstacles should be torn down so DO students are able to apply for any residency opportunity,” Robert Cain, DO, president and CEO of the association, said in a statement. “We continue to work with our peer organizations in the medical education community to end these practices creating unnecessary barriers for DO students.”
One such effort to reduce these barriers is the Fair Access in Residency Act. Initially introduced in September 2022, the bill was brought back before Congress in early February with an aim to expand access for DO candidates by requiring “hospitals to certify that they accept residency applications from both osteopathic and allopathic medical schools and to disclose the number of applicants and acceptances from each type of program in order to receive graduate medical education payments under Medicare.”
The bill is also supported by the National Rural Health Association, which has stated the legislation could, “help to ease rural physician shortages through removing overly restrictive residency criteria and result in greater engagement of osteopathic medical students from rural areas.”