2015 W. Douglas Ward, PhD, Educator of the Year

October 5, 2015

A passionate educator committed to osteopathic medicine, J. Michael Finley, DO, oversees graduate medical education for the Western region of the United States as the Chief Academic Officer for OPTI – West Educational Consortium and has mentored hundreds of students and residents at Western University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (WesternU/COMP) in Pomona, California.

Currently the associate dean of graduate and clinical medical education at WesternU/COMP and invited lecturer at the University of California--Riverside Haider School of Medicine, Dr. Finley is a third generation osteopathic physician.  

“My dad was a great role model and mentor,” Dr. Finley says.   “I was in high school before I was aware of DOs and MDs. Up until then, I just knew there were doctors and my dad was one of them.”

A Detroit-area native, Dr. Finley received his undergraduate degree in microbiology and public health from Michigan State University.  He obtained his DO degree from Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1986, just like his father and grandfather before him. He completed an internal medicine residency at Detroit Osteopathic Hospital in Highland Park, Michigan and a rheumatology fellowship at the Loma Linda (California) University Medical Center.

Dr. Finley says his foray into education was accidental. His father, a general surgeon, was in the generation when it was hard for DOs to access residency training particularly in surgery, so DO surgeons had to train future surgeons.  “He always had residents around when I was a kid,” Dr. Finley said.  When he started his first job at a private Rheumatology practice in California he didn’t think it was strange that a lot of residents rotated through—it was just as he had always experienced with his father. That was his formal beginning of his track into academics.

He went on to become a member of the faculty of UCLA School of Medicine and Loma Linda University School of Medicine, chair of the department of internal medicine at WesternU/COMP and Internal Medicine residency program director at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, California.

Dr. Finley also has served the profession on a national level, as a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Arthritis Advisory Committee; the American Osteopathic College of Internists Board of Directors (ACOI); as the chair for the American Osteopathic Directors and Medical Educators (AODME) Council on OPTI; the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME); and the editorial board for the JAOA- The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.  

Among his many accomplishments, those he is most proud of include his ability to establish over 45 new residency programs totaling 540 positions where they didn’t exist before to impact communities and people’s careers. He’s also proud of his family: wife of 26 years Michelle “Shelley” Miller and two teenage sons, RJ and Casey.  

For his impact on graduate medical education opportunities for osteopathic residents and his dedication to promoting the osteopathic profession, the AOF is proud to present the W. Douglas Ward, PhD, Educator of the Year Award to J. Michael Finley, DO.

J. Michael Finley, DO
Western University of Health Sciences - College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific