The American College of Neuropsychiatrists

(An Osteopathic Institution)

By Floyd E. Dunn, D.O., F.A.C.N., F.A.A.M.D.

Until that year procedures for examination of candidates who desired recognition, as specialists in neurology and/or psychiatry had been somewhat informal, and had largely amounted therefore to certifying “on record” those who were known to have been practicing neurology and/or psychiatry as a specialty for at least five years. At the New York City Annual Meeting, a Committee was appointed consisting of Chairman K.G. Bailey, J.L. Fuller, and J.F. Smith with the task of revising the procedures for examination. At this same meeting, Dr. Grover N. Gillum was appointed Chairman of the American Osteopathic Board of Neurology and Psychiatry, with Thomas J. Meyers as Secretary-Treasurer. It is presumed (and I know I met with them when I took my own certifying exams in Neurology and Psychiatry) that Drs. K.G. Bailey, J.L. Fuller, and J. Francis Smith were the other members of the Board.

Dr. “Tommy” Meyers was being recognized at the A.O.A. levels during this period, as representative from the A.O.B.N.&P. to the Advisory Board for Osteopathic Specialists, and in 1955 that Board recognized his abilities by making him its Chairman: a position he held for a number of years. Meanwhile as A.O.B.N.&P. Secretary-Treasurer he was an important assistant to the Committee appointed in 1946 to redraft and revise the certifying procedures.

It should be pointed out at this time that when the College was founded, everyone who was accepted into full membership was automatically certified in neurology, or in psychiatry, or in neuropsychiatry (later altered to read neurology and psychiatry at the option of the certificant) according to the documented type of the applicants’ specialty practices. With certification, the recipient was considered for the Honor of the Degree of “Fellow”; and the Degree was bestowed upon each of the original Charter members with the provision that within five years they present to the College an original paper suitable for publication of at least 15,000 words dealing with some area in the fields of neurology and/or psychiatry. It should be remembered that at least up until the mid-forties the practice of certifying physicians in neurology and/or psychiatry “on record” was continued by our allopathic colleagues. It is to the eternal credit of out College that the Charter members recognized so early that we would have to establish more rigid standards than the “old school” practice if we expected the public and governmental agencies to recognize our certification in neurology and in psychiatry. After that meeting no D.O.’s were certified on record. I believe that the first D.O. to be certified by examination (there is a possibility that Dr. “Randy” was also examined but he is deceased, so I can’t ask him, but I do know that he became a “Charter” Fellow).

Which brings us to another point of early changes in rules and procedures of the college. It was decided that the title “Fellow” ought not be merely equivalent to certification, but rather should be reserved as an Honor to be accorded by those who were already Fellows to those certified men and women of the college who had initially made outstanding and continued contributions to this College and/or specialties of neurology and/or psychiatry. Consequently, the Committee appointed at this historic meeting in New York City revised the section on “Fellows” to incorporate the concept that Fellowship in this College (and recommendation to the Board) in recognition of outstanding and continued contribution to the college and the fields of neurology and/or psychiatry. This change was made not only as a result of mature reflection on the part of the Founders of the College, but also because A.O.A. officialdom had questioned the propriety of making Fellowship synonymous with certification: they felt we should, as had the College of Surgeons, reserve the Degree “Fellow’ as the signal honor to be bestowed by those who were already Fellows only upon those who had made themselves outstanding in their profession through their achievements and service after they had achieved certification.

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