A life in medicine

In Memoriam: David F. Hitzeman, DO, pioneer of the osteopathic medical profession

Dr. Hitzeman provided decades of service and leadership to the AOA as well as his state and specialty societies.


David F. Hitzeman, DO, a pioneer of the osteopathic profession who was recognized in 2021 for his exemplary service to the profession by the AOA Board of Trustees, died on Dec. 14, 2022.

“The osteopathic medical profession has lost a great osteopathic physician,” says AOA President Ernest R. Gelb, DO. “Dr. Hitzeman truly lived our profession. He lead by example and was a great asset to all of us. He will be greatly missed.”

The following memorial was submitted by Dr. Hitzeman’s family.

Dr. Hitzeman went to medical school at the Kansas City University College of Osteopathic Medicine, graduating in 1974. After graduating he, along with his wife Rita, traveled to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and completed his internship. He then moved his family to Wellington, Kansas, to practice general medicine for one year. The family moved to Tulsa in 1976 for his residency at Oklahoma Osteopathic Hospital, where he continued to practice internal medicine for over 40 years until he retired.

Dr. Hitzeman was always a champion of promoting osteopathic medicine and treating the underserved, by serving on numerous committees and advocating for the profession. In the late 1990s, he was appointed by the Governor of Oklahoma as Commissioner for the Physician Manpower Training Commission for the State of Oklahoma, where he headed up an initiative to combat the physician shortage in rural Oklahoma. The initiative addressed medical school debt to encourage doctors to practice in rural parts of the state. The broad influence Dr. Hitzeman had on the osteopathic profession was evident by the multitude of awards he won over his lifetime, the national and local advocacy he led, and the changes he helped to make to ensure DOs were represented where policy was being made.

Dr. Hitzeman served on the Board of Directors for the American College of Osteopathic Internists (ACOI) and on numerous committees. He was recognized as a Master Fellow of the ACOI, was named ACOI’s Internist of the Year in 2012, and received ACOI’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of a lifetime of service and exemplary dedication to the profession in 2022. He also admirably served on the AOA House of Delegates as an Oklahoma representative for over 30 years and as the AOA’s representative to the AOA Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC), a select volunteer group of physicians that represents the entire osteopathic profession in helping shape Medicare relative values. Over the years, he also received many state and national awards, including the Physician of the Year Award from the Osteopathic Founders Foundation, the Outstanding and Distinguished Service and Physician of the Year Award given by the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association, as well as the Clinician of the Year Award, which he won three times between 2002-2012. These accolades earned him the nickname the “Warrior” by his colleagues.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to the Oklahoma Foundation Medical Quality in Oklahoma City or the Good Shepherd Hospice.

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