Last week, when President Donald Trump reported his COVID-19 diagnosis and was subsequently hospitalized, White House Physician and Navy physician Sean Conley, DO, provided the press with updates on the president’s illness and treatment. The ensuing media spotlight on Dr. Conley resulted in unfortunate mischaracterizations of DOs that appeared, among other outlets, on CNN and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show.
Maddow questioned why President Trump’s care is overseen by an “osteopath” rather than an infectious disease specialist or an internist. CNN pundit Gloria Borger implied that, as an “osteopath,” Dr. Conley is not an “actual doctor.”
To set the record straight, the AOA deployed an aggressive communications response aimed at correcting inaccuracies in the media and combatting the spread of misinformation on social media by challenging those who made false statements about the profession to #GetItRight.
The multifaceted campaign has gained momentum through the week, resulting in four media clarifications, interviews with the Los Angeles Times and Kaiser Health News, over 731,000 social media impressions and over 53,000 social media engagements over four days. It has united DOs, medical students and supporters of the profession with the singular goal of shattering myths and misconceptions about osteopathic medicine.
There are several ways you can help amplify the AOA’s efforts to call out misrepresentation and demand accurate descriptions of DOs in the media. Here are a few suggestions for getting involved:
- Tweet the media: The AOA Advocacy Action Center has created a form that members of the osteopathic medical community can fill out to quickly tweet at specific media outlets to implore them to set the record straight about osteopathic medicine.
- Post on your own: Share the following sample post on your channels and tag the media outlets (CNN, the Rachel Maddow Show) that have shared false statements.
Doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) are not “osteopaths.” DOs are fully licensed physicians equivalent to MDs, and can practice in ANY specialty including infectious disease. Many are treating COVID-19. You as the media are gatekeepers. STOP spreading misinformation.
- Write an op-ed: Submit an op-ed to your local newspapers with the goal of reducing misinformation and raising awareness about osteopathic medicine. Sample messaging is available here.
- Coming soon! The AOA is creating a video about osteopathic medicine that can be used by DOs and osteopathic medical students as a model for original content. This story will be updated with the link when the video is available.
Advocacy on the front lines
The following list details highlights and results of the AOA’s actions this week to protect and defend the osteopathic profession:
- Requested clarifications from seven media outlets that published incorrect statements regarding DO training and credentials. Four have issued corrections; the remaining are pending.
- Coordinated interviews with numerous top-tier media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times and Kaiser Health News, to ensure accurate coverage and representation of the osteopathic profession in the news.
- Partnered with the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine to submit a letter to the editor of The New York Times in response to erroneous statements that were published in an Oct. 3 article.
- Provided 160 reporters with access to a list of AOA leaders and DO expert sources who can provide background information about the osteopathic medical profession.
- Launched a vigorous social media campaign featuring approximately 50 unique posts that have driven a combined 731,724 impressions and 53,167 engagements over four days. Campaign tactics include challenging misstatements about osteopathic medicine, amplifying posts from DOs and MDs defending the profession, and crafting sample posts DOs and students can share to extend their collective voice.
- Read on for a sampling of the many social posts published this week by the AOA, osteopathic physicians, medical students and supporters.
Political belief is subjective. A license to practice medicine at the highest level is NOT. @MSNBC must do better for the heroes looking after public health so their anchors can live privileged lives on the air. @maddow @Lawrence #GetItRight https://t.co/DP7NtcawiK
— AOA (@AOAforDOs) October 6, 2020
DOs, Rise up-Be proud of your education and the critical role we play serving on the frontlines and in every specialty as PHYSICIANs. We treat YOU (media) and the sick an injured of this nation. This is the thanks? Shame on you! #GetItRight @AOAforDOs @maddow @Lawrence https://t.co/soAFdETZwc
— Kevin Klauer DO, EJD (@Emergidoc) October 6, 2020
The next President of the United States has an Osteopathic Physician.
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— David Broder, DO (@DavidBroderDO) October 7, 2020
I am a proud osteopathic physician who has completed over 5 years of postdoc training in 2 specialties, and has worked ED shifts during this crisis. The media MUST do better at acknowledging DOs as fully licensed physicians regardless of a political belief. #ProudDO https://t.co/nmA1FpMFaU
— Alexis Cates, DO (@acates) October 6, 2020
A special thank you to the MDs defending their DO colleagues. Physicians train together and work together to TREAT PATIENTS, not for TV personalities who have never done a clinical rotation in their lives to spread misinformation for their own benefit. @MSNBC @maddow #GetItRight https://t.co/n54ykfgMmc
— AOA (@AOAforDOs) October 6, 2020
Over the last few days there's been increased conversation about Osteopathic physicians. In the U.S. there are two types of degrees in which physicians can practice medicine: MD and DO. Here's what you need to know about both medical school degree types. https://t.co/EJg98DNUik
— AMA (@AmerMedicalAssn) October 6, 2020
There are so many reasons to question the President’s personal physician’s statements on the President’s health, but his qualifications as a DO are not one of them. DO’s are just as highly trained as MD’s. https://t.co/lxrYhuAduV
— Mrs. Fineberg (@CAFineberg) October 6, 2020
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Just your local DO taking care of Stroke patients on this cloudy Sunday. • • Over this weekend, during the media coverage of the President’s stay at Walter Reed/the physician looking after him (who is a DO) @cnn threw shade on osteopathic physicians using the phrase “well you know he’s an osteopath.” Later on @msnbc host Rachel Maddow, @maddowshow also made similar foolish and uneducated remarks. • • This didn’t go unnoticed by DO physicians & here’s why: DO’s in the United States are just as well trained as our MD counterparts. Both MD’s/DO’s take the MCAT, do 4 years of medical school, residency/fellowship(s). So how dare you pathetically attempt to infer ANY inferiority regarding my degree. Your ignorance does not take away from my degree. DO’s are not restricted in scope of practice or what specialties we can enter—and at competitive, respected academic institutions at that. In fact, there is now just ONE residency match process for both DO’s/MD’s as a result. Shoot, the most well known social media doctor— @doctor.mike (NYCOM graduate) is a DO. In short, @cnn do your homework—& if you don’t know, just ask me or your own medical correspondent, @drsanjaygupta . 🙂