News Releases

Osteopathic Medical Profession Surges above 150,000 Physicians and Students

Number of osteopathic physicians has grown 290% since 1990, according to new Osteopathic Medical Profession Report

By AOA Media Team


CHICAGO—April 22, 2020—The growth of osteopathic medicine continues to be robust and sustained, according to the 2019 Osteopathic Medical Profession Report. Today, the total number of Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) and osteopathic medical students is over 150,000 for the first time—an increase of over 6,000 from 2018.

“The growth in our profession is critically important when the nation is facing a pandemic as well as a growing physician shortage,” says AOA President Ronald Burns, DO, FACOFP. “Physicians tend to practice near where they complete their education and training, so the location of many DO schools in underserved regions leads thousands of osteopathic physicians to practice in communities where they are desperately needed.”

For the past several years, one in four American medical students has attended an osteopathic medical school. Today, over 30,300 osteopathic medical students are learning at 38 colleges of osteopathic medicine in 33 states, while over 22,800 new DOs are participating in postdoctoral training programs.

Some fourth-year osteopathic medical students have graduated early to join the physician workforce fighting COVID-19.

More trainees, young DOs

 Across the country, more than 121,000 DOs practice in a wide variety of communities, practice settings and specialties. Two-thirds of actively practicing DOs are under age 45.

While the majority of DOs—nearly 57%—practice in the primary care specialties of family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics, nearly 44% have chosen non-primary care specialties. The top five non-primary care specialties for DOs are emergency medicine, anesthesiology, OB-GYN, general surgery and psychiatry.

The number of female DOs has grown dramatically in recent years—today, 42% of actively practicing DOs are women, and nearly three-quarters of actively practicing female DOs are under age 45.

“Now more than ever, the health care system needs compassionate physicians, and DOs are answering the call,” says Dr. Burns. “We’re proud of each and every DO and osteopathic medical student and the sacrifices they are making to take care of patients and support the nation during this difficult time.”

The American Osteopathic Association:

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) represents more than 150,000 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:

Jessica Bardoulas


[email protected]