News Releases

125 Years of Osteopathic Medicine: Number of Osteopathic Medical Students Increases 85 Percent in Ten Years

By AOA Media Team


​There are now more than 108,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) in the United States, with over half practicing in primary care

CHICAGO—January 4, 2018—The American Osteopathic Association reports an 85 percent increase in osteopathic medical students since 2007, bringing the total number of osteopathic physicians (DOs) and students to 137,099 in 2017.

At the 125th anniversary of the profession, about one in four medical students attends a college of osteopathic medicine, and enrollment has increased an average of 25 percent every five years. The American Osteopathic Association’s annual report on the profession recorded more than 6,000 newly graduated DOs in 2017, with more than 99 percent placed into residencies this year. There are currently 20,482 DOs in residency training.

“Regardless of the medical specialty they choose, osteopathic physicians are trained to partner with patients to restore and maintain optimum health,” explained Adrienne White-Faines, chief executive officer of the American Osteopathic Association. “This ‘whole- person philosophy’, appreciating the influences of mind, body and spirit, resonates with patients and physicians alike. It is why more and more medical student applicants are choosing colleges of osteopathic medicine for their medical training.”

The 2017 report also found:

  • 108,118 DOs in the United States, up from 30,990 in 1990.

  • 52% of DOs are younger than 45.

  • 47% of DOs under 45 are female.

  • 56% of active DOs practice in primary care, including family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics.

  • The most common specialties for DOs are emergency medicine, anesthesiology, obstetrics and gynecology, general surgery and psychiatry.

The exponential growth in the profession aligns with the development of new osteopathic medical schools, which now total 34 schools operating in 49 sites. Additional schools and locations are expected to begin instructing students in the next few years.

The American Osteopathic Association and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) are halfway through a five-year transition to a single system for residency training. At the end of the five-year transition, all new physicians will be eligible to apply for osteopathic and non-osteopathic residencies in every specialty. Previously, physicians with the MD degree could not obtain osteopathic training.

About the AOA

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) represents more than 137,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students; promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; and is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools.

To learn more about DOs and the osteopathic philosophy of medicine, visit


Media Contact:   

Jeff Brennan