For the first time ever, osteopathic medical students make up more than 25 percent of med students nationwide. According to figures from the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), new student enrollment at US colleges of osteopathic medicine rose 5.7 percent in the Fall of 2018 over the year prior. The increase brings the total enrollment at such schools to 30,918 – a 6.7-percent jump over 2017.
Established in 1874, osteopathic medicine is a distinct form of medical practice that involves all of the same services that an MD provides including diagnosing medical conditions and prescribing drugs and other treatments. However, while classic medicine focuses on diagnosis and treatment of human diseases, doctors of osteopathic medicine, known as DOs, go a step further, employing a more holistic, whole-patient approach that emphasizes the philosophy that all body systems are interrelated and dependent upon one another for total wellness.
Other highlights from the AACOM’s enrollment report:
- The total number of new matriculants rose from 7,901 in 2017 to 8,281 in 2018, a 4.8-percent increase.
- The preliminary number of DO students graduating from medical colleges between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018, rose from 6,038 to 6,516, up 7.9 percent.
- A total of 8,574 students began their osteopathic medical education in 2018.
“As a distinct pathway to medical practice that continues to attract an increasing number of students throughout the United States, osteopathic medicine is leading the way in preparing the physician of the future,” said Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH, President and CEO of AACOM.
To that end, the AACOM recently launched Choose DO, a new initiative aimed at boosting osteopathic medical school enrollment and, ultimately, increasing the number of qualified physicians to help meet growing healthcare needs across the nation.
“Today’s current and prospective osteopathic medical students represent a bright future for health care,” said Dr. Shannon. “Their unique backgrounds and training will provide a tremendous benefit to not only their patients, but also their families and the communities they will serve.”