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Experts: Steep Increase in Osteopathic Medical College Enrollment May Help Mitigate National Physician Workforce Shortage

October 23, 2013

Contact:
Lindsey Jurd
Editor and Communications Associate
301-968-4152
ljurd@aacom.org

One in five U.S. medical students is training to become an osteopathic physician

(Washington, D.C., OCTOBER 23, 2013) Osteopathic medical college new student enrollment grew by 11.1 percent this year, according to data released by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) (see report). The steep growth in first-year student matriculation brings the total enrollment at osteopathic medical colleges to 23,144 students, an increase of 4.9 percent over fall of 2012. The increase in first-year student enrollment is attributed in part to three new colleges of osteopathic medicine that opened this year.

AACOM anticipates that increases in the number of osteopathic medical school graduates will help reduce growing physician shortages, especially in the critical area of primary care. The primary care physician shortage is projected to be greater than any other specialty at over 50,000 in 2025, and the total physician shortage across specializations is projected to reach over 100,000, according to reports.

“Because large numbers of new osteopathic physicians become primary care physicians, often in rural and underserved areas (see related report, tables 40 and 45), it is evident that the osteopathic medical profession will help the nation alleviate a primary care physician crisis,” said Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH, President and CEO of AACOM. “And colleges of osteopathic medicine are expanding and increasing to meet this demand.”

More than 20 percent of U.S. medical students currently attend osteopathic medical schools. This percentage is expected to increase as new campuses are developed and as established colleges continue to expand with increases in their class sizes. Several additional colleges are in the planning stages.

Among the key findings from AACOM’s enrollment report:

  • Enrollment of first-year osteopathic medical students has grown by 11.1 percent over last year’s number to a total of 6,449. Over the past decade, enrollment in colleges of osteopathic medicine has nearly doubled.
  • In spring 2013, 4,726 students graduated from osteopathic medical schools, representing an increase of more than 50 percent over the number of new osteopathic physicians who graduated a decade ago.
  • Three colleges of osteopathic medicine enrolled first classes this year: Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (Alabama), Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine (North Carolina), and Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine (Indiana). Including the new schools, there are now 30 colleges of osteopathic medicine.
  • The number of students who applied to osteopathic medical schools hit record numbers at 16,454, an increase of more than 1,500 over last year’s applicant pool.
  • Several additional colleges of osteopathic medicine are in the planning stages. To view a list of the proposed colleges that have taken initial steps toward accreditation with the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation, see http://www.osteopathic.org/inside-aoa/accreditation/predoctoral%20accreditation/Documents/new-and-developing-colleges-of-osteopathic-medicine-and-campuses.pdf.

For more information, go to Fast Facts About Osteopathic Medical Education.

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About DOs and Osteopathic Medicine

Osteopathic physicians (DOs) are fully licensed to prescribe medicine and practice in all specialty areas including surgery. They take a holistic approach to patient care, integrating the patient into the health care process as a partner in achieving a high level of wellness by focusing on health promotion and disease prevention. Osteopathic medicine is a complete system of medical care, and in addition to studying all of the typical subjects you would expect student physicians to master, osteopathic medical students take approximately 200 additional hours of training in osteopathic manipulative medicine. This system of hands-on techniques helps alleviate pain, restores motion, supports the body’s natural functions and influences the body’s structure to help it function more efficiently. The national interest in osteopathic medicine is increasing. Today, one in five U.S. medical students is training to become an osteopathic physician.


About AACOM

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) represents the 30 accredited colleges of osteopathic medicine in the United States.  These colleges are accredited to deliver instruction at 41 teaching locations in 28 states. In the 2013-14 academic year these colleges are educating over 23,000 future physicians – more than 20% of US medical students. Six of the colleges are publicly controlled, 24 are private instiutions.

AACOM was founded in 1898 to support and assist the nation's osteopathic medical schools, and to serve as a unifying voice for osteopathic medical education. AACOM’s mission is to promote excellence in osteopathic medical education, in research and in service, and to foster innovation and quality among osteopathic medical colleges to improve the health of the American public