Communication Home

Karen J. Nichols, D.O.

OU-COM to host AOA President Karen J. Nichols, D.O.
Visit includes presentation to students about osteopathic medicine issues


(ATHENS, Ohio) The Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine proudly hosts Karen J. Nichols, D.O., the first woman president of the American Osteopathic Association, during a visit to campus Jan. 10 and 11.

Nichols, the 114th president of the AOA, will meet with OU-COM administrators, faculty and students, including a noon luncheon presentation to students about issues they will face as osteopathic physicians. In addition to her AOA presidency, which is a year-long appointment, Nichols is the dean of the Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“Dr. Nichols is a strong advocate for osteopathic medical students,” said Mark Postel, OMSII, student government president at OU-COM. “I think in Tuesday's session students will find that Dr. Nichols, and the AOA as a whole, really do have a vested interest in the issues we face such as the cost of tuition and increasing residency spots, and are working to address or improve matters that are important to us.”

Nichols began her career as a medical technologist at Phoenix General Hospital before serving as chief technologist and president of the Arizona Medical Technology Society. At 28 years old, she entered medical school, where she earned her osteopathic medical degree at what is now the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her internship and residency training at the former Oklahoma Osteopathic Hospital in Tulsa, Okla.

After graduate medical education, Nichols worked her way up to chief of staff at Mesa General Hospital in Arizona, where she established end-of-life care guidelines after an elderly patient requested that his physician turn off the ventilator keeping the patient alive.

“We didn’t have any policies in place regarding end-of-life care,” Nichols said in her AOA profile. “There was nothing like this being taught at that time in any medical school.”

Among her priorities since becoming president of the AOA in July 2010, Nichols is focusing on health system reform, private practice support for osteopathic physicians and providing adequate support and opportunities for osteopathic graduate medical education programs.

“She has consistently led the profession in pursuit of quality OGME programs,” said Keith Watson, D.O., associate dean for academic affairs. “Most recently, she has promoted the goal of expanding OGME positions for the profession through professional teamwork and strategic initiatives.”

During her presidency, Watson said, Nichols has appeared before the AACOM Board of Deans and many other groups to promote effective OGME matching processes and student support in their pursuit of OGME residencies.  

“She has worked tirelessly during her Presidency to promote uniformity in the graduate medical education accreditation standards and to facilitate streamlined processes for DO graduates who seek specialty board certification and continuing medical education,” Watson said. “We are honored to have her visit and speak with our students.”

A member of the AOA since 1981 and a member of the AOA Board of Trustees since 1999, Nichols is also a former chair of the AOA Department of Government Affairs and the AOA Council on Palliative Care Issues.

Nichols has served as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Institute for National Health Policy Review; as president of the American College of Osteopathic Internists; president of the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association; and as a member of the Illinois Osteopathic Medical Society.

Nichols has received many honors and awards including Fellow of the Institute of Medicine-Chicago; the first AOMA Physician of the Year; AOA Mentor Hall of Fame Inductee; the Outstanding Achievement Award from the MWU/CCOM Alumni Association Board of Governors; recipient of the IOMS Distinguished Service Award; and the Clinician of the Year from Mesa General Hospital. 

  Office of Communication
Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
210 Irvine Hall, Athens, Ohio 45701
Tel: 740-593-2346 FAX: 740-593-0343
Copyright Ohio University (Home)
Last updated: 01/28/2016