Report finds increase in osteopathic physicians

As concerns mount over whether there will be enough physicians to meet the nation’s growing demand for health care, the number of osteopathic physicians (DOs) is reaching new heights, according to a report released today from the American Osteopathic Association.

DOs are one of only two groups of physicians in the U.S.– MDs and DOs — who are licensed to prescribe medication and practice in all medical specialty areas, including surgery.

According to the report, officially titled the 2010 Osteopathic Medical Profession Report, the total number of DOs is 70,480 — up from 67,167 last year and from 44,918 in 2000. At the current rate of growth, it is estimated that more than 100,000 DOs will be in active medical practice by the year 2020.

A comparison between the number DOs and MDs in the report shows that DOs make up more than 10% of the physician population in 13 states, ranging from as far east as Maine and Delaware to as far west as Arizona and Nevada. In Michigan and Oklahoma, the proportion of DOs exceeds 20%, meaning at least one in five physicians in those states is a DO.

Although DOs are licensed to practice in all specialty areas of medicine, more than half choose to practice in family practice and general internal medicine, the report indicates. Specifically, 39.1% practice in family and general practice, down from 40.9% last year, while 11.3% practice in general internal medicine, up from 10% last year. The remaining portion is distributed across other medical specialties.

As the osteopathic medical profession grows, more females are choosing to practice osteopathic medicine, the report shows, with almost half of all recent osteopathic medical school graduates being women. Of all DOs within their first nine years of practice, 42.1% are female, a percentage that increases to 49.2% when looking at just the first four years of practice.

SOURCE American Osteopathic Association

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