What is OPTI?

  • Educational enhancement
  • OMM
  • Research
  • Faculty development
  • Resident recruitment

The Osteopathic Postdoctoral Training Institute is a consortium of teaching hospitals who have partnered with Des Moines University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) in pursuit of excellence in internship and residency training.

The Health Education and Residency Training Network (HEARTland Network) has been developed to ensure the educational continuum for DMU’s osteopathic medical graduates. The HEARTland Network was established to support and promote excellence in the continuum of osteopathic medical education that begins with matriculation at an osteopathic medical school and extends through residency training and continuing medical education.

Our OPTI members agree to collaborate on areas of mutual interest and benefit, including educational standards, academic programs, grant acquisition, evaluation activities, faculty development, curricular development, continuing medical education, research/scholarly activity, marketing, promotion and recruitment.

The HEARTland Network exists to:

  • Promote excellence in education and training for osteopathic medical students, interns and residents to meet tomorrow’s health care needs for Iowans as well as the nation.
  • Contribute to the advancement of knowledge through the fostering of research.
  • Promote innovation, creativity and excellence along the continuum of osteopathic medical education.


J.D. Polk, D.O., M.S., M.M.M., CPE, FACOEP, has been named dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Des Moines University

Dr. Polk has an extensive and diverse background in medicine and administration. He brings valuable experience in accreditation and the evaluation of medical education. Dr. Polk has worked for the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since 2011 and  was the assistant secretary (acting) for health affairs and chief medical officer. Before working at DHS, he spent seven years in aerospace medicine at NASA.
Throughout his career, Dr. Polk has been active in local, state and federal emergency services and preparedness planning. He is was a clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine and an affiliate associate professor and senior fellow in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University.

Dr. Polk earned his doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from A.T. Still University in Kirksville, Missouri. He holds a master’s in space studies with a concentration in human factors from the American Military University and a master’s in medical management from the University of Southern California’s School of Business.

“For most of my career, I have served both my country and my patients. That ‘service before self’ mentality still applies, even at DMU,” he said. “The most important people at DMU are our patients. They serve as the basis for our very existence, they are the center of our profession and they serve an important role in educating our students. We produce quality graduates, but the reason we produce them is to serve the health care needs of our Central Iowa patients.”

Erin Westfall, D.O. accepts the AODME position at the U of MN FM Residency – Mankato

Dr. Erin Westfall assumed the position of Osteopathic Director of Medical Education in February 2013.  She is a graduate of A. T. Still University-Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her residency at the University of Minnesota Mankato Family Medicine Residency in 2009.  Since her residency, Dr. Westfall has worked as a Physician in the Department of Family Medicine at Mayo Clinic Health System – LeSueur, as well as, a Community Faculty Preceptor- Mankato at the University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health Family Medicine Residency, Mankato.  Her interests in medicine include full spectrum family medicine, community health and wellness, mental health, and osteopathic medicine.  Dr. Westfall’s personal interest embrace outdoor activities, amateur archaeology and spending time with her family.

Leatrice Olson, D.O. named the AOA Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency, Iowa Medical Education Collaborative

Dr. Leatrice Olson was named the Osteopathic Program Director of the new Internal Medicine Residency Program, housed at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines.  The new IM residency program was approved in November and has accepted ten residents starting July 1, 2013.  Dr. Olson is a graduate of COMS (Des Moines University), interned at Grand Prairie Hospital, Grand Prairie, TX and completed her IM residency at Des Moines General Hospital , Des Moines, IA.  Dr. Olson was previously the program director of the Internal Medicine Residency program at Des Moines General Hospital from 1988 to 2000.  She has long established relationships with Des Moines University recruiting students, student teaching and skills lab.  Dr. Olson is lifetime Board Certified, American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine with added qualifications in Geriatric Medicine (1995).