Osteopathic Medical Schools Are Increasing the Numbers of Quality Grads

August 3, 2014
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osteopathsAs the ACA continues its labyrinthine course into the nation’s political boilerplate, talk almost always returns to the issue of primary care supply for the demand that many healthcare policy pundits assert that will occur as a by-product of the legislation.

osteopathsAs the ACA continues its labyrinthine course into the nation’s political boilerplate, talk almost always returns to the issue of primary care supply for the demand that many healthcare policy pundits assert that will occur as a by-product of the legislation.

Utilization of mid-level providers (NPs, PA’s, etc.) have entered into that discussion. But not has much has been said about that other degree of physician provider — the osteopathic physician provider. Patients may or may not have thought about the difference in designation — which is largely in nomenclature, only. A doctor is a doctor. But, as more attention is turned to the level of primary care penetration within the healthcare marketplace in the short term, doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO’s) are getting a bigger share of the spotlight.

Osteopathic skills were first consolidated by a 19th-century frontier physician, Andrew Taylor Still, who decried the overuse of arsenic, castor oil, opium and elixirs and believed that many diseases had their roots in a disturbed musculo-skeletal system that could be treated hands on. He founded the first osteopathic school in 1892 in Kirksville, Mo. — A.T. Still University. Critics have, from time to time, assailed the techniques as pseudoscience, though the medical establishment has come to accept the approach. And osteopathic schools offer the same academic subjects as traditional medical schools and the same two years of clinical rotations.

But an image problem remains. A survey last year by the American Osteopathic Association found that 29 percent of adults were unaware that D.O.s are licensed to practice medicine, 33 percent didn’t know they can prescribe medicine and 63 percent didn’t know they can perform surgery.

A physician is a physician. Increasing the numbers of those who can provide quality care in this age of 21st century care delivery only benefits the patient. Just ask your average veteran.

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