American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Osteopathic Medical Profession Report

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Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, are one of two types of fully licensed physicians in the U.S. DOs practice their patient-centered philosophy of medicine in every medical specialty.

Classically trained physicians, DOs receive additional instruction in Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment and use this tool to help diagnose, treat and prevent illness and injury.

Osteopathic medicine teaches DOs to first consider the person within the patient. This emphasis on treating people, not symptoms, means DOs believe there is more to good health than the absence of pain or disease.

As guardians of wellness, DOs focus on prevention and work to understand patients’ lifestyle and environment, partnering with them to help them get healthy and stay well.

The Rise of Osteopathic Medicine

Osteopathic medicine aligns with a new direction in health care that emphasizes a patient-centered approach to achieve high-quality outcomes. That attitudinal shift is reflected in the rapid growth of the osteopathic medical profession, and the high percentage of DOs that choose to practice in primary care specialties.

In 2015, nearly 92,000 osteopathic physicians were recorded in the U.S. (not counting approximately 5,000 osteopathic medical students who graduated in 2015), a sharp upswing from the 24,000 DOs counted in 1985. Osteopathic medicine continually ranks among the fastest-growing disciplines in health care in the U.S.


Note: Chart above excludes same-year new graduates each year. Includes updated figures for 1985-1995 versus estimates used in prior publications.

Source: AOA Physician Masterfile, May 31, 2015.
AACOM Fall 2015 preliminary enrollment report​​​​​​​​