Record-breaking numbers

For the first time, DOs and osteopathic medical students are over 150K strong

Number of DOs has grown 290% since 1990, a new report finds.


The growth of osteopathic medicine continues to be robust and sustained, according to the latest Osteopathic Medical Profession report. Today, the total number of DOs and osteopathic medical students is over 150,000 for the first time—an increase of over 6,000 from 2018.

More trainees, young DOs

Over 30,300 osteopathic medical students are learning at 38 colleges of osteopathic medicine in 33 states, while over 22,800 new DOs are participating in postdoctoral training programs. For the past several years, one in four American medical students has attended an osteopathic medical school. Today, two-thirds of actively practicing DOs are under age 45.

“Now more than ever, the health care system needs compassionate physicians, and DOs are answering the call,” said AOA President Ronald Burns, DO, FACOFP. “The growth in our profession is critically important when the nation is facing a pandemic as well as a growing physician shortage. Physicians tend to practice near where they complete their education and training, so the location of many DO schools in underserved regions leads thousands of osteopathic physicians to practice in communities where they are desperately needed.”

Across the country, the nation’s more than 121,000 DOs practice in a wide variety of communities, practice settings and specialties. The number of female DOs has grown dramatically in recent years—today, 42% of actively practicing DOs are women, and nearly three-quarters of actively practicing female DOs are under age 45.

Specialty breakdown

While the majority of DOs—nearly 57%—practice in the primary care specialties of family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics, nearly 44% have chosen non-primary care specialties. The top five non-primary care specialties for DOs are emergency medicine, anesthesiology, OB-GYN, general surgery and psychiatry.

Where DOs practice

Although DOs practice medicine in all 50 states, half of all DOs live in seven states—California, Pennsylvania, Florida, New York, Michigan, Texas and Ohio. Rounding out the top 10 states for DOs are New Jersey, Illinois and Arizona.

Frontline physicians

DOs and osteopathic medical students are on the frontlines of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. They are working to treat patients, set up testing centers, share the latest information about the disease and train each other on the recent changes to practicing medicine, such as updated telemedicine regulations. Some fourth-year osteopathic medical students have graduated early to join the physician workforce fighting COVID-19.

“We’re proud of our DOs and osteopathic medical students and the sacrifices they are making to take care of patients and support the nation during this difficult time,” said Dr. Burns.

Related reading:

The top 8 specialties for DOs today

How many DOs practice in your state?

One comment

  1. Russell Morrison DO

    Great news I graduated from Kansa City in 1968, we had 5 schools at that time, after I finished my internship I was drafted, I was one of the few DO’S who served in Vietnam, but I believe that we made a statement about our profession and the quality of care that the Osteopathic Physcian brings to the medical community, it is amazing how far the osteopathic profession has growing.

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