A decade in review: Highlights in osteopathic medicine and the profession from 2010-2019

It’s the end of the decade! Look back on some of the biggest moments in the osteopathic profession from the past 10 years.

During the past decade, the osteopathic medical profession has grown in leaps and bounds. As the turn of the decade approaches, check out some of the major highlights in the osteopathic community from 2010-2019 to see just how far we’ve come.

What’s your favorite moment in osteopathic medicine from the past decade? Let us know in the comments!

Karen J. Nichols, DO, former AOA president, addresses her colleagues as then-AOA President John W. Becher, DO, looks on in this 2015 photo.

2010: Karen Nichols, DO, becomes the first woman president of the AOA.

An advocate for women and osteopathic medicine, Dr. Nichols was also the first woman to lead the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association and the American College of Osteopathic Internists.

Dr. Nichols continues to break boundaries in her career. She recently became the chair-elect of the ACGME board of directors.

2011: U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, DO, starts his first term in Congress for Nevada.

Dr. Heck, a Republican, was the first DO to be elected to Congress since Ira W. Drew, DO, D-Pa., served in the House of Representatives from 1937-39. Dr. Heck served in the House for three terms until January 2017.

Today, Dr. Heck continues to serve the country as chair of the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service.

2012: The National Osteopathic Advocacy Center opens in Washington, D.C.

Serving as the headquarters for the AOA’s governmental advocacy efforts, the center’s goals are to boost the awareness and influence of osteopathic medicine and provide essential information to governmental agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education and Congress.

2014: The AOA, AACOM and the ACGME agree to create a single, unified system for graduate medical education accreditation.

Under the single GME accreditation system, more physicians will qualify for AOA board certification. DOs who have trained in AOA or ACGME programs can now take AOA board examinations.

The five-year transition, which began in 2015, will come to a close in 2020.

2015: The Doctors That DO brand campaign launches.

AOA’s national awareness campaign aims to bolster the visibility of the osteopathic profession and promote DOs’ unique philosophy of care. Since the beginning of the campaign, there have been over 1 million “Find Your DO” searches on DoctorsThatDO.osteopathic.org. The campaign has generated more than 1 billion impressions.

2015: After a decade of advocacy, the Medicare sustainable growth (SGR) formula is repealed.

The AOA, the osteopathic profession and DO Day attendees advocated for the repeal of this legislation for many years. The repeal was part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015.

2016: Humayun (Hank) Chaudhry, DO, becomes chair of the International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities (IAMRA).

Dr. Chaudhry was the first DO to be elected to this role; having a DO helm IAMRA helped create greater visibility and understanding of U.S. osteopathic medicine worldwide.

2016: A study from the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association about passing kidney stones after riding roller coasters goes viral.

David Wartinger, DO, discovered that riding roller coasters can cause people to pass small kidney stones. In the span of a week, the study was covered in 850 news reports and 140 broadcast segments, which included coverage in The New York Times, BBC and U.S. News & World Report.

2016: J.D. Polk, DO, becomes NASA’s chief medical officer.

Dr. Polk will be a keynote speaker at the AOA’s LEAD conference in Manalapan, Florida, which takes place Feb. 27-28.

2017: Osteopathic medicine celebrates 125 years.

The first osteopathic medical school opened in October 1892. One hundred twenty-five years later—and today—DOs continue to focus on preventive care and treating the whole person.

2017: DOs become over 100,000 strong.

Throughout the decade, osteopathic medicine was one of the fastest-growing health care professions. Between 2007 and 2017, the number of DOs grew by 65%. Today nearly one in four U.S. medical students are enrolled in an osteopathic medical school; this has been the case for the past several years.

2018: DOs receive international recognition as fully licensed physicians.

The International Labor Organization, an agency of the United Nations, issued a letter affirming that U.S.-trained osteopathic physicians are fully licensed physicians who can prescribe medications and perform surgeries. This acknowledgment distinguishes U.S.-trained osteopathic physicians from osteopaths, who perform manipulation only.

2018: The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine becomes the state’s first medical school. 

ICOM has also partnered with the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center to create the largest cohort of residents in the state.

2019: A record-high number of DO students and graduates match in the largest NRMP Match.

Nearly 5,080 DO students and graduates participated in the 2019 NRMP Match. About 85% of DO applicants matched successfully, also a record high.

2019: DOs get full access to the Canadian Match.

Osteopathic medical students and DO graduates become eligible to apply for residency training in all Canadian provinces participating in the Canadian Match.

Related reading:

We’ve come a long way, baby: Student life then and now

The best and worst states for health care in 2019


  1. Boyd R. Buser, DO

    In 2016, Humayan (Hank) Chaudhry, DO became the Chair of the International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities (IAMRA). He was the first DO to be so elected. This created more visibility and understanding of US Osteopathic Medicine worldwide. I think this fact deserves recognition in our highlights from the last decade.

    1. Rose Raymond

      Thanks so much for your comment, Dr. Buser. I’ve added an entry for Dr. Chaudhry becoming IAMRA chair in 2016.

  2. Nancy Hamm

    Because of how God has used Osteopathic medicine, this last decade has been transformative for me.
    I would still be holding trauma, I would still have debilitating pain. But now I am 85% pain free. And I am so thankful.
    I will advocate for these restorative treatments until my last breath.

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