Osteopathic Medicine and Primary Care

The osteopathic medical profession has a proud heritage of producing primary care practitioners. In fact, the mission statements of the majority of osteopathic medical schools state plainly that their purpose is the production of primary care physicians. Osteopathic medical tradition preaches that a strong foundation in primary care makes one a better physician, regardless of what specialty they may eventually practice. Many DOs choose not to practice in primary care and doctors of osteopathic medicine practice in a wide range of medical specialties from anesthesiology to vascular surgery. According to the latest Osteopathic Medical Professions Report from the American Osteopathic Association, over 43% DOs practice in a non-primary specialty!

Primary Care


Today, as the country faces the challenge of ensuring an adequate number of primary care physicians, more than one-third of osteopathic medical school graduates choose careers in primary care.  Only 15% of entering osteopathic medical students express an interest in practicing in primary care according to AACOM's 2019-2020 Academic Year Entering Student Survey. This number jumps to over 32% by the time they graduate. Over 56% of active DOs practice in primary care and currently care for more than 35 million Americans.

DOs in Primary Care Specialties

According to the AOA's latest report on the Osteopathic Medical Profession, within Primary Care 31.4% of DOs choose to practice in Family Medicine, 18.1% choose to practice in Internal Medicine and 6.9% choose Pediatrics.
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Serving the Underserved



In addition to its focus on primary care, osteopathic medicine also has a special focus on providing care in rural and urban underserved areas, allowing DOs to have a greater impact on the U.S. population's health and well-being than their numbers would suggest. Over the past three years, more than a third of osteopathic medical school graduates indicated they plan to practice in a rural or underserved area.

Osteopathic Medicine and Other Medical Specialties


One myth about osteopathic medicine is that DOs are only primary care physicians. This is not true. Over 43% of DOs do not practice in primary care, In fact, doctors of osteopathic medicine practice in all medical specialties from anesthesiology, child neurology and dermatology to emergency medicine, psychiatry and surgery.
  • Anesthesiology
  • Allergy & Immunology
  • Child Neurology
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Family Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Internal Medicine
  • Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
  • Neurology
  • Neurological Surgery
  • Obstetrics-Gynecology
  • Oncology
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Osteo Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine
  • Otolaryngology
  • Pathology
  • Pediatrics
  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Psychiatry
  • Radiology
  • Surgery
  • Thoratic Surgery
  • Vascular Surgery

And Many More!

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