There are now over 186,000 DOs and osteopathic medical students, according to the report, which also shares the top 10 states where DOs practice today.
Osteopathic medicine continues to see sustained and significant growth, according to the latest Osteopathic Medical Profession (OMP) report. In 2023, the total number of osteopathic physicians in the U.S. reached almost 149,000—a 30% increase over the past five years. Over the past three decades, the total number of DOs and osteopathic medical students has more than quadrupled to reach 186,871 in 2023.
In the 2023-24 academic year, approximately 38,000 osteopathic medical students are attending DO schools, an all-time high. Today, more than 25% of all U.S. medical students are pursuing osteopathic medicine.
Each year, the AOA produces the OMP Report to track expansion and growth within the osteopathic medical profession and examine demographics and trends related to DOs and osteopathic medical students.
Physicians on the front lines
Though DOs bring their distinctive approach to every field and specialty across the landscape of medicine, the osteopathic profession plays a major role in meeting the nation’s primary care workforce needs. In 2023, more than half of the nation’s DOs practice in the primary care specialties of family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics. The majority of these physicians—62%—are under age 45, demonstrating that primary care remains a desirable specialty for early-career physicians entering the workforce.
The profession’s emphasis on primary care positions DOs to make a critical impact in addressing the projected physician shortage expected to limit access to patient care in the next 10 years. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. could see an estimated shortage of between 37,000 and 124,000 physicians by 2034, including gaps in both primary care and non-primary care specialties.
Providing care for rural and underserved patients
The number of osteopathic medical schools has more than doubled over the past two decades, with the majority located in rural or underserved regions. As a result, osteopathic physicians often complete their education and training in communities with limited access to care. On the 2023-24 U.S. News and World Report list of top medical schools, osteopathic schools received the following rankings:
- Seven of the top 10 spots for medical schools with the most graduates in primary care.
- Three of the top 10 spots for medical schools with the most graduates practicing in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).
- Six of the top 10 spots for medical schools with the most graduates practicing in rural areas.
Where DOs practice
While DOs practice medicine in all 50 states, half of all DOs practice in eight states: California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York, Texas, Ohio and New Jersey. Rounding out the top 10 states for DOs are Illinois and Arizona.