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AACOM Response to Public Comments about a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)

March 14, 2020


Paul DeMiglio
Manager of Media Relations
AACOM President and CEO Robert A. Cain, DO, FACOI, FAODME, offered the following statement on behalf of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) in response to comments made on social media that seem ill-informed about the enormous role osteopathic medicine plays in America today, and the qualifications of a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine to serve as the White House Physician.  

“Osteopathic medicine and the doctors who practice it —a doctor of osteopathic medicine or DO—are part of two great traditions in American medicine that keep our population healthy. Now more than ever, all of our health professionals, including DOs and MDs, nurses, EMTs, and support staff, are working 24/7 on the front lines of this health crisis. It is our hope that this crisis is also a teachable moment for every American to learn more about the professionals that keep America healthy.

On behalf of the nation’s 36 colleges of osteopathic medicine, the 110,000 DO physicians in all 50 states and the United States military, and the 30,000 osteopathic medical students currently enrolled, we continue to look forward to serving our patients, our communities, and our country with professionalism and distinction.”

Cain went on to note that “AACOM categorically disagrees with the comments made on social media by several political pundits and the misperception that these comments can foster” at a time when Americans need to be reassured that every health and medical professional is working overtime in this time of public health crisis. These public voices may not be aware of the following facts:  

  • MDs and DOs both attend four years of medical school, followed by a residency program that ranges from three to seven years, depending on the specialty.Osteopathic medical students receive an additional 200 hours of instruction, learning osteopathic principles and practice and osteopathic manipulative medicine.
  • MDs and DOs are both licensed by the same state licensing boards and held to the same requirements for practicing medicine. 
  • The nation’s approximately 110,000 fully licensed, active and practicing osteopathic physicians practice the entire scope of modern medicine, bringing a patient-centered, holistic, hands-on approach to diagnosing and treating illness and injury.
  • Osteopathic physicians can choose any specialty, prescribe drugs, perform surgeries, and practice medicine anywhere in the United States.
  • Today, approximately 25 percent of medical students in the United States are enrolled in colleges of osteopathic medicine.
  •  Osteopathic physicians have served in leading roles throughout the health care system and in the military, including: Surgeon General of the U.S. Army, Chief Medical Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard and Chief Health and Medical Officer at NASA.
  • DOs have served proudly in the front lines of medicine in the United States for over 128 years.


About AACOM  

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) represents the 36 accredited colleges of osteopathic medicine in the United States. These colleges are accredited to deliver instruction at 56 teaching locations in 33 states. In the 2019-2020 academic year, these colleges are educating over 30,000 future physicians—approximately 25 percent of all U.S. medical students.

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.