Will Climbing U.S. Osteopathic Medical College Enrollment Effect Delivery of Patient Care?

Total enrollment at osteopathic medical colleges is now 24,615 – an increase of 6.7 percent over fall 2013 – according to data released by AACOM on October 23. The report found that osteopathic medical college new student enrollment increased by 5.2 percent in fall 2014 over enrollment in 2013.

So what’s behind this steady rise in first-year DO students? The creation of one new osteopathic medical school (Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) in Lynchburg, VA), along with the addition of two new teaching locations (Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM), Dublin Campus, OH; and Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine – New York (TouroCOM-NY), Middletown Campus, NY), account for most of the increase.

Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH, President and CEO of AACOM, believes the expanding number of DO students and graduates underscores the relevance of osteopathic physicians to the needs of a changing healthcare landscape.

“As interest in osteopathic medicine continues to grow and transform the future of healthcare, osteopathic physicians will play an increasingly critical role in ensuring the delivery of quality patient care at a time of significant change in the U.S. health system,” said Dr. Shannon.

Among the key findings:

  • The number of new osteopathic physicians graduating from medical colleges between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014, increased by 3.6 percent to 4,978.
  • A total of 6,786 students began their medical education at one of 30 DO-granting medical schools, which educate students at 40 locations in 28 states.

Recent data also suggests that a substantial number of graduating osteopathic physicians over the last three years either plan to pursue primary care, or plan to practice in areas impacted by a shortage of health professionals. According to AACOM’s 2012-13 Academic Year Survey of Graduating Seniors Summary Report, in fact:

  • One-third of graduating DOs indicate they plan to specialize in one of the primary care disciplines of family medicine, general internal medicine, and general pediatrics;
  • Fifteen to 17 percent of graduating DOs plan to practice in communities with populations less than 50,000; and
  • One-third of graduating DOs say they plan to practice in underserved/health professions shortage areas (both rural and urban).

Data for this report were provided by the nation’s colleges of osteopathic medicine as of September 5, 2014, and represent preliminary data. Official findings are due January 2015. All data included may be freely redistributed with proper attribution to AACOM.

Click here for the latest AACOM reports that share key data and trends concerning osteopathic medical education including student enrollment numbers, applicant and matriculant profiles, graduation breakdowns, and more.

Inside OME Header
November 2014
Vol. 8, No. 10