ARCOM gains accreditation for residency, fellowship programs

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 2,314 views 

The Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM) received accreditation that will allow it to provide residency and fellowship education to students who graduate from the medical school.

The school received accreditation to provide postdoctoral education by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Graduate Medical Education (GME) refers to the period of training in a particular specialty (residency) or subspecialty (fellowship) following medical school.

This accreditation will allow ARCOM to develop ACGME residencies including Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Surgical and more across the region and the state of Arkansas.

All residencies are linked to a hospital. A sponsorship institution, which is what ARCOM will be, develops partnerships with hospitals and has oversight, fiscal and development responsibilities, said Dr. Tony Little, ARCOM associate dean for graduation medical education.

At the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce First Friday Breakfast Jan. 4, Kyle Parker, president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE, the parent institution for ARCOM), said when the college was started, the ACHE board of trustees said they only wanted to build the school if there was a spot for every single student to go into their residency because 80% of the time, new doctors stay in the vicinity of where they do their residency.

“The key is keeping them here. You can graduate all the students you want to. If you don’t keep them here, that’s when you’re not solving the problem,” he said.

The school has contracts with every major hospital in the state of Arkansas and the Cherokee Nation and Choctaw Nation for residencies for ARCOM students, Parker said.

“ACHE and the Board of Trustees are committed to providing the resources necessary to establish residency training for its graduates, increasing the likelihood that ARCOM students will stay and serve the needs of underserved Arkansas and surrounding States. These residency programs are a key element in increasing the number of medical students that will be able to train in Arkansas. Partnerships between ARCOM and participating hospitals will provide more opportunities for physicians to enhance their skills,” Parker said.

Medical students begin their residency programs after they graduate medical school. They are required to have one-year post-doctoral training in order to apply for a license, Little said.

The average residency program for primary practice, which includes family, internal medicine, emergency and pediatric practice, are three-year programs, Little said. Surgical residencies and fellowships can extend to four to six years or longer.

“The development of residency training for our graduates is critical to the mission of ARCOM. Receiving this accreditation is another step in our goal to educate and train caring and compassionate physicians that will serve and practice in Arkansas,” said Dr. Ray Stowers, vice president of academic affairs and provost.

Keeping students in the area for the four years of medical school and at least three of residency increases the possibility of students continuing to live and practice in the area, Parker and Stowers said.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is an independent, not-for-profit, physician-led organization that sets and monitors the professional educational standards for all US residency programs.

A single Graduate Medical Education (GME) accreditation system has been implemented to allow graduates of allopathic (Doctors of Medicine or MD) and osteopathic (Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine or DO) medical schools to complete their residency and/or fellowship education in ACGME-accredited programs and demonstrate achievement of common milestones and competencies. ARCOM residencies will be available for graduates of both DO and MD medical schools across the country.

ARCOM welcomed an inaugural class of 150 osteopathic medical students in August 2017. Those students will graduate in May 2021.