Bringing People Together, The Role of AACOM in Organizing Osteopathic Medical Education in the USA

Osteopathic medicine in the United States is one of the fastest growing health professions. That success has resulted from many historical and environmental factors, especially in recent decades. The U.S. profession has leveraged collaboration between the educational institutions and the standardization of educational requirements to achieve unrestricted practice rights. Although the American and European osteopathic medical movements originated from the same philosophy, their current education and practice models are significantly different. The presentation will update the audience on osteopathic medical education and practice in the U.S., discuss the context and implications of recent developments, and speculate about developments in the future.


Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH, has been President of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) since January 2006. Prior to assuming this position, he served as Vice President for Health Services and Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of New England since 1995. He served as Chair of the AACOM Board of Deans from July 2003 to June 2005.
Dr. Shannon earned his doctor of osteopathic medicine degree in 1986 from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, Maine, and his master's of public health degree in 1990 from the Harvard University School of Public Health. He is board certified in osteopathic family practice and preventive medicine. He also holds B.A and M.A. degrees in American History from the University of Maryland.
As President of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Shannon serves as spokesperson on behalf of the nation’s 29 colleges of osteopathic medicine, articulating the community’s priorities and positions in a variety of national and international settings. Dr. Shannon also guides the association in fulfilling its vision and mission, and in positively influencing state, federal, and executive branch policy formulation relative to medical education. Dr. Shannon has strong professional interests in public health and preventive medicine, and in major research areas of clinical outcomes study, health promotion and disease prevention, health professions workforce, rural health and medical school curriculum. He current is president of the Federation of Schools of the Health Professions and a member of the Veterans Administration’s
National Academic Affiliations Council. Until recently he served as a senior member of HRSA’s Advisory Committee on Training in Primary Care Medicine and Dentistry.
He has a long history of leadership and service in public health. He was instrumental in the development of a Master of Public Health program at the University of New England and prior to his appointment as dean was Director of Occupational and Environmental Health at the Maine Bureau of Health. He has served on numerous public health boards and commissions and is a founder and past Chair of the Board of the Maine Center for Public Health.
In addition, he is past president of the Maine Biomedical Research Coalition and was a member of the state's Biomedical Research Board. Dr. Shannon was instrumental in implementing biomedical research expansion within the University of New England, targeting such areas as diabetes' impact on heart disease and the neurophysiology of pain, memory and addiction.
He received the New York Institute of Technology Riland Public Service Award in 2011, the AACOM Robert A. Kistner Award in 2010, the Dan Hanley Memorial Trust 2003 Leadership Award in 2003 and the Finance Authority of Maine's Distinguished Service Award in the Field of Higher Education in 2002.