April 14, 2010
Letter to the Editor
Wall Street Journal
1211 Avenue of The Americas, Floor 5
New York, NY 10036
While the article “Medical Schools Can’t Keep Up” (April 13) brings to light the seriousness of the projected shortage of primary care physicians, the authors failed to provide an accurate assessment of the nation’s primary health care providers with their omission of the osteopathic medical profession.
Because osteopathic medical education places a strong emphasis on primary medical care, approximately 60% of osteopathic physicians (DOs) choose to practice in the areas of family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics. DOs currently account for 10% of the total primary care physician population in the United States, and that number continues to increase every year.
Since 2006, five new osteopathic medical schools have opened. These medical schools are well positioned to help remedy the projected physician shortage by bringing health care services to some of our nation’s traditionally underserved regions, including Appalachia, the Pacific Northwest and Harlem, N.Y. With increases in osteopathic medical school enrollment, it is projected that at least 100,000 DOs will be practicing by 2020.
The American Osteopathic Association, which represents over 67,000 DOs across the nation, continues to advocate for legislation, such as reform of the graduate medical education system, to foster a more robust physician workforce. Additional residency opportunities and loan forgiveness incentives for primary care physicians are critically needed to help attract medical students to the areas of practice where they are needed most. Osteopathic medicine is doing its part and more to keep up with America’s health care needs.
Larry A. Wickless, DO
American Osteopathic Association