The Vulnerabilities of Osteopathic Medicine

Recently, I was asked to give a talk to a group of osteopathic medical school deans. In particular, they wanted me to provide an outsider’s perspective on the vulnerabilities of osteopathic medical education to generate discussion for their own strategic planning.

Here’s my talk.

From the Sheriff of Sodium YouTube channel.



This version is slightly longer than the one that the deans heard, which had to fit within a one hour time slot. Some of the discussion at the end (about the NBA-ABA merger) gets more fleshed out more leisurely here.


The lecture received a mixed response.

Many deans, I think, appreciated hearing the viewpoints of an outsider. Others disagreed with some of my points and the way that I framed them. And at least a few were displeased that I’d been given airtime to discuss certain issues.

In particular, my comments about the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME) were not favorably received by at least some of the audience. Certainly, everyone is entitled to their opinion on this issue… but I stand by mine.

Unless you’re a first time visitor to this site, you know I’ve questioned whether the NBOME is an organization that’s outlived its usefulness, and whether maintaining a “separate but equal” licensing examination really serves the interests of DOs, or just the interests of the NBOME.

I’ve made the same points in the academic literature in an interesting series of correspondence that includes a reply from the CEO of the NBOME himself. (If you’re interested, the full sequence is here: our original article; first letter to the editor in reply; our reply to the first letter to the editor; NBOME CEO’s reply to that; then our reply to the NBOME CEO.)


I gave the lecture by Zoom, so I couldn’t clearly hear most of the extemporaneous audience discussion… but I’m told that there was some grumbling that certain slides used incorrect data.

In the Q&A after the talk, I invited anyone who believed I have the wrong numbers to please reach out to me. I want to reiterate that point here, because although we may disagree about the inference to be drawn, the data should be good. It’s important to me that I get it right.

(So far, I haven’t heard from anyone.)


The NBOME, Part 2: Osteopathic Medicine’s Vestigial Organ

Mailbag: Second Looks, the USMLE “Curve,” and Residency Placement Rates for DOs

Journal Club: COMLEX-USA and Physician Discipline