April 23, 2010
Letters to the Editor
The Chicago Tribune
435 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
While Steve Chapman’s column, “Nursing our way out of a doctor shortage,” helps to illustrate the shortage of physicians facing our country, it fails to provide a complete picture of the problem by omitting osteopathic physicians (DOs) from the discussion. With more than 100,000 osteopathic physicians projected to be in practice by the year 2020, DOs are in an ideal position to help preserve access to quality medical care, including the more than 150 graduates of the Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in Downers Grove, Ill., each year.
Approximately 60% of DOs practice in areas of primary care, including family medicine, general internal medicine and pediatrics. Currently, DOs account for 10% of the total primary care physician population in the United States. In fact, the latest rankings of America’s graduate schools by U.S. News & World Reports, which were released earlier this month, list two colleges of osteopathic medicine— the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in East Lansing and the University of North Texas Health Science Center-Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth— among the top 20 medical schools for primary care.
Many DOs also fill a critical need for physicians by practicing in rural and other medically underserved communities. New colleges of osteopathic medicine in regions like Appalachia, the Pacific Northwest and Harlem, N.Y., are opening their doors to train future physicians. Today, nearly one in five of all U.S. medical students is studying in an osteopathic medical school.
When discussing solutions to the physician shortage, DOs should not be excluded. The osteopathic medical profession has been, and always will be, committed to preserving access to health care for all Americans.
Larry A. Wickless, DO
American Osteopathic Association