News Releases

American Osteopathic Association opens membership to all physicians

After more than 100 years, osteopathic physicians (DOs) vote to admit MDs as full members.

By AOA Media Team


CHICAGO, August 22, 2018—In an historic decision, the American Osteopathic Association’s House of Delegates amended governing documents to allow their MD counterparts full membership in the organization, which represents the interests of the nation’s more than 137,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students.

The change comes as 29 MD graduates are training in osteopathic-focused residencies accredited by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The AOA and ACGME are currently three years into a five-year transition to a single accreditation system, giving MD graduates the ability to train in programs that had been only available to DOs.

The AOA Board of Trustees also created a path for MDs who complete an osteopathic-recognized ACGME residency to qualify for AOA board certification, offered by AOA’s 18 certifying boards. Certification is available in 29 primary specialties and 77 subspecialties.

As regular members of the AOA, MDs would have the ability to vote at the House of Delegates and be appointed to the organization’s bureaus, councils and committees as well as serve in leadership roles.

“The osteopathic family is pleased to welcome all physicians, regardless of the degree they hold, into our organization. DOs and MDs have worked and trained side-by-side for decades, and it is clear the time has come to offer membership to any licensed physician who shares our focus on patients and the whole-person approach to care,” said AOA President William S. Mayo, DO.

The AOA constitution was amended by the AOA House of Delegates to extend membership to graduates of international medical schools and schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. Graduates of international medical schools must complete ACGME-approved residency training to qualify for membership.

The House of Delegates sets policies which serve as the foundation for the AOA’s advocacy efforts on behalf of its physicians, as well as its positions on state and federal laws and regulations that affect the practice of medicine. The AOA actively collaborates with state and specialty osteopathic associations to influence state legislation governing scope of practice for non-physician clinicians, prescribing regulations and other matters that impact clinical practice.

At the federal level, the AOA provides a platform for the physician voice, and highlights any osteopathic-specific perspectives on proposed regulatory and payment issues, with a focus on minimizing administrative burden on physicians, while protecting them from unfair payment and regulatory changes.

“At its core, the American Osteopathic Association is a community for physicians who collaborate, engage and innovate to improve patient care and the practice of medicine. Opening membership to all licensed physicians who share our values increases our collective ability to promote activities that lower costs and improve outcomes in the American health care system,” Dr. Mayo added.

About the American Osteopathic Association
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; is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools; and has federal authority to accredit hospitals and other health care facilities. More information on DOs/osteopathic medicine can be found at


Media Contact:
Jessica Bardoulas
(312) 202-8038