American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Karen J. Nichols, DO

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AOA Board-Certified Internist  

Oak Brook, Ill.


Karen J. Nichols, DO, an AOA board-certified internist, was inaugurated as the 114th president of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) — and the association’s first female president— in July 2010.  

Aside from her service to the AOA, Dr. Nichols is an advocate for end-of-life care. She was introduced to the issue while serving as chief of staff at Mesa General Hospital in Arizona in the late 1980s–a time when many hospitals had virtually no policy on how to handle conflicts over the care of terminally ill patients. Seeing a need for better guidance for physicians and other health care professionals caring for patients at the end of life, Dr. Nichols took it upon herself to lead an effort to create a new set of end-of-life care policies at the hospital. Soon she was asked to educate other physicians and health care professionals and throughout the past 20 years has spoken around the country about end-of-life care.

In 2002, Dr. Nichols turned her career toward educating future physicians when she became dean of the Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in Downers Grove, Ill.

Dr. Nichols earned her osteopathic medical degree from the Kansas City (Mo.) University of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her internship and residency training at the former Oklahoma Osteopathic Hospital in Tulsa.

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