Translating Osteopathic Understanding into Community Health

Protocols and Standards

As of: February 27, 2018

Translating Osteopathic Understanding into Community Health (TOUCH) is a national initiative of the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents (COSGP). This program encourages osteopathic medical students to engage in service throughout their community in order to impact those outside of osteopathic medical students and professionals. The purpose of the program is to expand osteopathic ideals and principles to those unaware of our profession’s values.

In accordance with the osteopathic philosophy of treating the whole patient, service goes beyond mere health promotion and can include a wide array of involvement that has a strong positive impact on peoples’ lives.

Please refer any questions about the TOUCH program to the TOUCH online community (requires separate login) or the COSGP National Programs Representative at or

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    1. TOUCH Hours are any activity that works to improve the health and wellness of a community, in order to spread osteopathic tenets, awareness, principles, and practice. (See Section VII, TOUCH Hours Standards)
    2. Volunteer Hours are any activity that does not meet TOUCH Hours standards. (See Section VII, TOUCH Hours Standards)
    3. Service Hours are defined as any event that involves active participation or directly benefits the betterment of the community either local or global.
      1. TOUCH Hours and Volunteer Hours are both designated as Service Hours.
      2. Activities can be associated with both COM student organizations and external organizations. 
    4. The “community” shall be designated as those outside of each institution. Community includes local, state, national, and international activities.
    5. COSGP Student Services Committee will have the discretion to grant or deny records towards TOUCH Hours based on the parameter set forth within this document.

  2. ROLES

    1. An AACOM staff member will maintain and coordinate administration of the TOUCH program.
      1. Will maintain the online database
      2. Will act as technical advisor
    2. COSGP will maintain ownership and administration of the TOUCH program.
      1. A National Coordinator appointed by the COSGP executive board for a term of one (1) year will:
        1. Oversee the national program
        2. Delineate policy and protocol
        3. Decide in case of dispute
        4. Serve as Chairperson of COSGP Student Services Committee
      2. A COSGP Student Services Committee appointed by the National Coordinator and comprised of general COSGP council members for a term of one (1) year, will:
        1. Review and clarify policy and protocol
        2. Have the discretion to grant or deny records based on the parameter set forth within this document
    3. Each college College Student Government Association (SGA) will appoint:
      1. A student COM Coordinator to serve as primary TOUCH program contact at each college for a term of one (1) year. 
        1. Will approve completed hours
        2. Will verify completed hours
        3. Will certify each student’s completion of the program
      2. A staff or faculty Student Service Coordinator to act as the secondary TOUCH program contact at each college for a term to be decided by the college:
        1. Will verify completed hours
        2. Will certify each student’s completion of the program
        3. Will coordinate the delineation of award

    1. Records will be maintained by a system chosen and maintained by AACOM.
    2. Student records consist of:
      1. Student name
      2. Student college
      3. Event name
        1. This is designated as the name of the event:
          1. Example: Global Health Outreach to Mexico
          2. Example: OSU Fall Gala
      4. Event date
        1. Event Day is the day of event, if planning is included
        2. Multi-day events should be entered daily, with daily hour accumulations totaled
        3. Ongoing projects should be entered daily per event
      5. Event location
        1. City, State or City, Country
      6. Event coordinator
        1. Person in charge of event
        2. Contact information (pending) 
          1. Phone number or email address
      7. Hours
        1. TOUCH Hours
          1. Qualified event hours + (50% of planning hours)
          2. Event hours 
            1. Hours spent participating at actual event (See III. TOUCH Hours Standards, A)
          3. Planning hours 
            1. Hours spent in administrative tasks related to planning actual event. (See III. TOUCH Hours Standards, B)
            2. 50% counted towards TOUCH Hours
        2. Volunteer Hours
          1. Hours not eligible for TOUCH Hours
        3. Service Hours
          1. Total of all event hours, (TOUCH and Volunteer Hours) and
          2. Total of all planning hours (100%)
          3. Denied TOUCH Hours are included in Volunteer Hours.
      8. Service types
        1. Up to three (3) types of service may be chosen
        2. Definitions (pending)
      9. Event description
        1. Description should demonstrate how service meets TOUCH Protocols
        2. Description should include student's role in event
    3. Student TOUCH Hours record must be submitted to the online database within one (1) month of the activity or date of service.
      1. This deadline may be waived by Student Services Committee and AACOM staff when appropriate and required.
    4. Student TOUCH Hours record must be submitted to the COSGP Student Services Committee by the appropriate deadline.
      1. Any record, event, or day with greater than 10 TOUCH Hours in one day must include the supervisor’s name and contact information on the submitted entry.
      2. Any record or event greater than 50 TOUCH Hours requires additional verification by COM Coordinator.
      3. Any record or event greater than 100 TOUCH Hours requires secondary approval by the TOUCH National Coordinator.
    5. College Student Government Association (SGA) is required to maintain records of all matters involving the TOUCH program:
      1. Including meeting minutes, photocopies of both complete and incomplete submitted forms, and records of students who have completed the program.
    6. College student organizations that sponsor and organize community service activities will be encouraged to submit the necessary forms acknowledging the students’ involvement.
    7. Any participant, faculty member, or program administrator will be entitled to review all records pertaining to the TOUCH program.
    8. TOUCH records and TOUCH database may be used for research with appropriate request, supporting documentation, and institutional review board approval.
  4. CYCLE

    1. The TOUCH year will extend from May 1 to April 30 of the next year.
      1. The 2018 cycle is from April 1, 2017 - April 30, 2018
      2. This cycle may be adjusted as needed by National Program Coordinator and AACOM staff with advance notice. 
    2. The required hours must be completed within the current academic year.
    3. Hours completed must be completed following matriculation into medical school.
      1. Hours completed by first year medical students during the summer before matriculation are not eligible.
      2. This will cause a shortened TOUCH year for first-year medical students.
    4. Completed hours may not be carried over from one academic year to the next.

    1. Contesting student has the right to dispute approved or denied hours.
      1. The student should mediate with the COM Coordinator and the Student Service Coordinator who will serve as impartial representation.
      2. Final decision will be made by the National TOUCH Coordinator.
    2. All records submitted are subject to formal review by COSGP Student Services Committee.
    3. Failure to supply record will result in zero credit for the TOUCH Hours gained in dispute.

    1. First offense:
      1. The submission will be stricken from the record.
      2. Student will receive a warning.
    2. Second offense:
      1. The student will receive no credit for previous hours.
      2. Student will be deemed ineligible for TOUCH recognition the remainder of the TOUCH year.

    1. TOUCH Hours are awarded for any activity that works to improve the health and wellness of a community.
      1. The event must provide a service to the community in order to be TOUCH eligible.
      2. Event must not be self-serving.
    2. Denied TOUCH Hours count toward Service Hours.
    3. Additional ineligible events:
      1. Tutoring of classmates/peers
        1. Example: mock practical/tutoring sessions for students in lower classes
          1. Staying after shift to continue care
          2. SIM labs, small group leadership
      2. Shadowing a physician/healthcare professional
        1. Participating in Ride-Along EMS activities where the student is not actively participating in patient care
          1. If the student is EMS trained, certified and actively providing care, hours are eligible
        2. Spending additional time on clinical rotations
      3. Conference attendance
        1. Service activities performed in conjunction with conference are TOUCH eligible
    4. Administrative hours
      1. Eligible
        1. Administrative tasks as part of an event as TOUCH Hours
          1. Example: checking students in, registration, and setting up
      2. Ineligible
        1. Administrative tasks that do not take place at the event are ineligible
    5. Fundraising
      1. TOUCH Hours credit will only be given for fundraising if it is associated with an actual activity/event for an external organization.
      2. Eligible
        1. Events that raise funds for a local charity, foundation, or external organization
          1. Actual collection time and transporting goods may be counted
      3. Ineligible
        1. Funds raised for philanthropic causes
          1. Charity miles
          2. Fun Runs
        2. COSGP Silent Auction
        3. Funds raised directly to benefit school associated clubs or organizations
    6. Organizations
      1. College sponsored organizations
        1. Eligible
          1. Leadership roles
            1. Hours dedicated to responsibilities involve participation in a specific and dedicated community service event
          2. Service Hours as required by student college curriculum
        2. Ineligible
          1. See: Fundraising
          2. Leadership responsibilities in a College Student Organization
          3. SIM labs, staying after rotation/clerkships, small group leadership
          4. Normal student organization activities
            1. Example: meetings, bringing in speakers, etc.                 
      2. External Organizations
        1. External organizations are organizations not funded or hosted by the college
        2. Eligible
          1. Hosting or leading youth activities
          2. Advocacy days
            1. Examples: DO Day on the Hill, COM Day on the Hill
            1. Ineligible (pending)
        3. TOUCH Planning Hours
          1. Credit for planning a community service activity will only be given for hours involved in the preparation of materials and setup for an actual event.
          2. Parties directly responsible for planning the event will be permitted to claim half the time of the total length of the event.
            1. Example: If the event takes 5 hours, the individual(s) responsible for planning it will be able to claim 2.5 hours for planning
          3. Event planning must be reviewed and verified by the COM TOUCH Coordinator.
        4. Research
          1. Ineligible
            1. Research activities are ineligible
      3. Awards

        1. Final hours are tallied by AACOM staff and National TOUCH Coordinator.
        2. Electronic certificates will be presented by AACOM Staff and National TOUCH Coordinator to COM Coordinator and Student Services Coordinator for distribution one (1) month after TOUCH cycle ends.
        3. Awards:
          1. Participation recognition
            1. Students who complete 0.5 to 49.75 approved TOUCH Hours
          2. Silver-level recognition
            1. Students who complete 50 to 99.75 approved TOUCH Hours
          3. Gold-level recognition
            1. Students who complete 100 or more approved TOUCH Hours
          4. Platinum-level recognition
            1. Awarded to the student at each COM with the highest number of approved TOUCH Hours
            2. Tie
              1. All students at a COM who achieve the same maximum approved TOUCH Hours will receive Platinum recognition
          5. Recognition may include, but is not limited to: certificates, plaques, trophies, or other materials as deemed appropriate by the COSGP Student Services Committee.
          6. Letter of Commendation
            1. A Letter of Commendation will a be sent to the COM Dean from the AACOM President suggesting it be included in the student’s commitment to service in his/her Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)
              1. Letters of Commendation are sent yearly and are based on students' TOUCH Hours accumulated during one cycle year.