Medical EducationBrief Report

Osteopathic manipulative treatment for allopathic physicians: piloting a longitudinal curriculum

Jared Dubey, DO; Sarah James, DO; and Larissa Zakletskaia, MA
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: March 11, 2020

Accepted: August 10, 2020

Published: February 15, 2021

  • Jared Dubey, DO, 

    Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA

  • Sarah James, DO, 

    Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA

  • Larissa Zakletskaia, MA, 

    Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA

J Osteopath Med; 1(4): 371-376

Context: Under the Accreditation for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) single accreditation system, there is likely to be increasing interest and opportunity for teaching osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) to allopathic residents and residency faculty. When learning OMT, allopathic physicians (MDs) have distinct needs compared with osteopathic medical students. For example, MDs already have a foundation in anatomy and medical vocabulary, but incorporating an osteopathic approach to patient care may require a paradigm shift. Thus, a unique approach to osteopathic education for MDs in residency programs with osteopathic recognition (OR) is needed.

Objectives: To create a longitudinal OMT elective for allopathic residents and residency faculty and assess its impact on attitudes and confidence regarding osteopathic principles and treatment.

Methods: Drawing from standard texts used during preclinical osteopathic education, a blended online and in-person laboratory modular curriculum for the OMT elective course was developed by osteopathic residents and faculty within the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The modalities of muscle energy, counterstrain, myofascial release, and soft tissue were included; the curriculum also reviewed autonomic physiology, somatovisceral, and viscerosomatic reflexes. A quality improvement study of the course was conducted via pre- and postcourse surveys to assess its impact on perceptions and confidence regarding the theory and practice, referral, and use of OMT. A precourse survey was distributed before the first module to obtain background information and assess participants’ prior OMT exposure, among other things. Nine months after the course ended, a corresponding postcourse survey was distributed. Pre- and postcourse surveys were individually matched to improve statistical analysis, using unique identifiers. Also, following each laboratory, a postlaboratory survey was collected about the participant’s experience for that lecture and for laboratory-specific quality improvement purposes. Two years after course completion, graduates were reached via phone or email for informal interviews to assess the perceived long-term impact from the elective.

Results: Eleven MDs from a total potential pool of 26 residents and approximately 120 attending physicians enrolled in the course; eight (72.7%) completed all modules and pre- and postcourse evaluations. Participants reported statistically significant gains in attitudes and confidence regarding OMT (“knowledgeable regarding OMT principles”: precourse mean, 2.50 [0.76], vs. postcourse mean, 3.37 [0.52]; p=0.021; “know how to treat using OMT”: precourse mean, 2.25 [1.39], vs. postcourse mean, 3.12 [1.25]; p=0.041). Several participants (five; 62.5%) had completed prior OMT training. There was an increase, albeit nonsignificant, in the use of OMT, with more providers using OMT (precourse mean, five, vs. postcourse mean, six; p=0.171), and providers using OMT more often (precourse OMT use monthly or more often, three, vs. postcourse OMT use monthly or more often, six; p=0.131).

Conclusions: Implementing a longitudinal elective curriculum is a feasible way to improve attitudes and confidence in OMT for MDs involved in a family medicine residency. Whether our elective leads to competency in OMT for allopathic residents and faculty remains to be formally evaluated. Our pilot established the feasibility and led to a revision of our curriculum; the elective continues to occur yearly. Future analyses will focus on competency assessment.

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