Thanks to raised awareness and increasing numbers of colleges of osteopathic medicine, prospective medical students have been applying to the nation’s osteopathic medical schools in record-breaking numbers for the sixth consecutive year. With roughly two months left until applications close for the 2012-2013 academic year, more than 14,860 aspiring physicians have submitted applications to the nation’s 26 osteopathic medical schools and four branch campuses, a 6.65 percent increase over last year’s figures at this time, and already more than the total number of applicants at the close of last year’s application cycle. Application growth was recorded at all schools, with to-date percentage increases ranging from 4.36 to 18.11 percent.
Some 20 percent of all U.S. medical students are studying at osteopathic medical schools; more than 20,000 aspiring physicians are currently enrolled. This figure is projected to steadily increase, with an estimated 5,300 DOs graduating each year by 2015. With more than half of graduating DOs entering one of the primary care specialties (general internal medicine, family practice or pediatrics), the growing interest in osteopathic medical education may help mitigate future primary care physician shortages.