Osteopathic medicine has ‘exponential growth’ in U.S. health care

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Report documents increasing number of DO physicians, students.

From 2000 to 2022, the number of osteopathic medicine physicians (DOs) has tripled in the United States, said a new report by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

The association’s annual “Osteopathic Medical Profession Report,” tallies the number of osteopathic physicians and osteopathic medical students around the country.

“The osteopathic medical profession is one of the fastest-growing segments of healthcare, representing more than 11% of all physicians in the U.S.,” the report said. “The profession is on track to continue exponential growth, with more than one in four of all current U.S. medical students choosing to pursue osteopathic medicine.”

The growth demonstrates that patients are actively seeking the distinctive body, mind and spirit approach DOs bring to medicine, and that DOs are making important contributions to healthcare delivery, especially considering the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on the American health care system, said association CEO Kevin Klauer, DO, EJD.

“We're especially excited to see promising growth in the number of students considering medicine who choose to become osteopathic physicians each year,” Klauer said. “Building on the osteopathic profession's strong foundation in primary care, we're seeing a growing shift toward expansion of DO specialization across all areas of medicine. DO graduates matched in 41 specialties in the most recent residency match, reflecting the breadth of our profession.

“For this reason, the osteopathic profession is well-positioned to play a critical role in helping to address the predicted physician shortages over the next decade in primary care and many other specialties as well,” Klauer said.

Here’s a look at some of the figures and facts in the report, published in August 2022. Figures are for 2022, except where noted.