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Osteopathic Medicine

The Heart of the Osteopathic Profession

ICT Street Team Event, Photo: Courtesy of American Osteopathic Foundation

The osteopathic philosophy, which is based on a holistic and empathic approach to medicine, is reflected back in the generous spirit of those who are drawn to the profession. It is also embodied in the mission-driven work of the many organizations that support the field.

For more than 70 years, with the generosity of donors, and the strength and vision of its partners, the American Osteopathic Foundation (AOF), led by an all-volunteer board, has advanced this outstanding profession, making a positive, impactful difference in the communities we serve — locally, nationally, and across the globe. We are proud to be its heart.

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Empowering generations

Over the past seven decades, the foundation has supported, encouraged, and inspired thousands of students from across the country through its more than a dozen grant and scholarship programs. And with investments from donors like Karen Nichols, D.O., the future of the profession is bright. 

Established in 2013, the AOF Karen J. Nichols, D.O., LEAD Scholar Award is given annually to osteopathic medical students who demonstrate four ideals: Leadership, Excellence, Achievement, and Dedication in the classroom and community.

“To me, service and leadership represent two sides of the same coin,” said Edith N. Waskel, OMS IV, a 2020 Karen J. Nichols, D.O., LEAD Scholar. “Leadership prioritizes the role of serving others through leading by example, delegation, and collaboration, and a strong leader is one who can do this efficiently. On the other side of the coin is service, in which compassion and grace are instrumental in properly giving back to the community.”

Growing funding

Joint funding partnerships on research grants with the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) have increased the impact on innovative research that will change the course of modern medicine. Investments in programs like the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Fellowship in Osteopathic Medicine. Established in 2014, the two-year fellowship allows talented, early-career health science scholars to participate actively in health- and medicine-related work of the National Academies, and to further their careers as future leaders in their field. 



As active citizens in a multicultural world, the PCOM community cultivates an environment of inquiry, inquisitiveness and respect, promotes discovery and celebration of our differences and fosters appreciation of the rich social fabric that binds us together.


Dedication to addressing health disparities is reflected by increased philanthropic investment in osteopathic outreach to underserved communities. In 2019, a multi-year grant was awarded by the AOF to the ITC Street Team in Wichita, Kansas. Using a mobile medical model to deliver care at the point of contact, the group’s volunteer D.O.s, nurse practitioners, students, and allied health professionals treat illnesses, evaluate injuries, and provide medications to the city’s homeless population.

“Through focused research, utilization of evidence‐based modalities, relationship building, and passion for the underserved, our organization has redefined healthcare for the homeless in our community,” said Amanda Ruxton, D.O., medical director of ICT Street Team

Celebrating D.O.s

All along the way, we’ve joined together to celebrate this amazing profession. 

In partnership with specialty colleges and societies, the AOF’s Outstanding Resident of the Year Awards are given annually to honor and recognize outstanding residents’ professional excellence. 

State osteopathic associations recognize early career leaders through AOF’s State Emerging Leader Award program, which shines a spotlight on D.O.s whose leadership, passion, and dedication to osteopathic medicine sets them apart. 

Celebrating life partners of graduating osteopathic medical students, AOF’s Donna Jones Moritsugu Memorial Award is presented in partnership with the Advocates for the American Osteopathic Association (AAOA), and osteopathic colleges and schools of osteopathic medicine from across the country. Established in 1993, this award was created to honor the memory of Donna Jones Moritsugu, wife of Dr. Kenneth P. Moritsugu, former deputy surgeon general of the United States.

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Great things are rarely done by one person or one organization. The strength of AOF has consistently been generated through the collective commitment of the profession — by its students, practitioners, organizations, and supporters. 

Together we do more. And together, we are the heart of the profession.

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