Making a special return trip to his alma mater, the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM), American Osteopathic Association president Larry Wickless, D.O., ’67, spent an afternoon sharing information about the AOA to a full classroom of students, faculty, and staff on September 4.
Dr. Wickless introduced his presidential theme entitled “Leading Change: Building a New Foundation for the AOA,” in the Mehegan Classroom on the Missouri Campus, and offered the opportunity for the audience to ask questions. Dr. Wickless began by highlighting some background features about the organization, including a mention of the 40,793 people who belong as members. Because the osteopathic profession is growing, and due to the predicted shortage of 100,000 physicians, the AOA has several important goals that must be modified for the future.
Dr. Wickless said that the AOA must ensure cost effectiveness, strengthen the osteopathic profession, advocate improvements in healthcare, gain practice rights abroad, and gain awareness. As part of an increased effort to gain awareness, he encouraged students to become active AOA members and attend D.O. Day on Capitol Hill, which saw 1,600 students and supporters at the 2009 event.
Although changing the healthcare system seems daunting, AOA members play several key roles, including lobbying, serving on committees, and attending hearings to name a few. And, in a move to promote international expansion, Dr. Wickless highlighted the international activities of the AOA, including the Osteopathic International Alliance, which he helped to start, involvement with the World Health Organization, and DOCARE.
The dual mission of AOA is to protect the osteopathic profession and advance osteopathic principles. Before Dr. Wickless achieved his current status as president, he served as a Michigan-based physician specializing in internal medicine and gastroenterology for 35 years. A native of Kirksville, Dr. Wickless served on the AOA Board of Trustees for nine years before gaining his new leadership position.