Uptick in U.S. Osteopathic Medical College Enrollment Could Help Fill Expected Primary Care Physician Shortage


October 23, 2014

Lisa Cole, MBA
Vice President of Marketing and Communications

(Washington, DC) – Osteopathic medical college new student enrollment increased by 5.2 percent in fall 2014 over enrollment in 2013, according to data released today by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM). The rise in first-year student matriculation brings the total enrollment at osteopathic medical colleges to 24,615, an increase of 6.7 percent over fall 2013.

Most of this growth is attributed to one new osteopathic medical school (Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Lynchburg, VA) and two additional teaching locations (Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dublin Campus, OH; and Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine – New York, Middletown Campus, NY) enrolling their first classes this fall.

“As interest in osteopathic medicine continues to grow and transform the future of health care, 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 Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH, President and CEO of AACOM.

Among the key findings from AACOM’s enrollment report:

  • 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.


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 42 teaching locations in 28 states. In the 2014-15 academic year these colleges are educating over 24,600 future physicians – more than 20 percent of US medical students. Six of the colleges are public and 24 are private institutions.

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 provides leadership for the osteopathic medical education community by promoting excellence in medical education, research and service, and by fostering innovation and quality across the continuum of osteopathic medical education to improve the health of the American public.