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Osteopathic Medicine

Why Empowering Our DOs Is So Important

As you read this publication, I hope you gain a better understanding of the osteopathic profession and the amazing people — past and present — who tirelessly work to improve healthcare in our country and proudly call themselves doctors of osteopathic medicine (D.O.s). When I saw the theme, “Empowering D.O.s,” it struck me as particularly appropriate because we strive to represent and empower more than 151,000 osteopathic physicians and students each day at the American Osteopathic Association. I am honored to provide an update and hope you enjoy learning more about what makes the osteopathic profession distinct.


This month marks a full year since the COVID-19 pandemic began to stress our healthcare communities to unimaginable levels. Through great tragedy, adversity, and loss, osteopathic physicians have served selflessly on the front lines of the COVID battle and will continue to serve wherever and whenever needed. Because of these contributions and sacrifices, public awareness of D.O.s has never been higher, and pride in the profession throughout the nation’s hospitals and osteopathic medical schools has never been greater.

The distinctiveness of D.O.s is what I hope you recognize and appreciate while reading this publication.

About D.O.s

Osteopathic medicine was founded on the belief that all systems in the body are interrelated, each working with the other to heal in times of illness. That whole-person approach to care continues today, and D.O.s now account for approximately 11 percent of all physicians in the United States. We practice in any specialty after appropriate residency training and are one of two types of physicians licensed to practice medicine in each state of the United States.


D.O.s are pediatricians, OB-GYNs, internists, anesthesiologists, psychiatrists, oncologists, family medicine physicians, emergency medicine physicians, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, ophthalmologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and more. Osteopathic physicians also serve in some of the most prominent positions in medicine. That includes overseeing care for our nation’s astronauts and those who serve in the uniformed services. Both physicians in charge of healthcare for President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are osteopathic physicians.

DOs have amazing stories to tell, and some of these are included in the next few pages.

Commitment to diversity

The American Osteopathic Association recently approved a detailed commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, during Black History Month in February. We’re excited to include a feature in this publication on Barbara Ross-Lee, D.O., the first Black woman to be dean of a U.S. medical school. Ashley Roxanne Peterson, D.O., is also featured. She’s a blogger, influencer, and the youngest Black osteopathic physician ever.

You will also learn about osteopathic physician leaders J.D. Polk, DO, chief health and medical officer at NASA; Humayun J. Chaudhry, D.O., president and CEO of the Federation of State Medical Boards; Marc B. Hahn, D.O., president and CEO of Kansas City University; and Jennifer Caudle, D.O., associate professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine.

There’s even an article written by a D.O. who reluctantly decided to become active on Facebook and doesn’t regret it one bit.


Thank you for reading, and thank you for learning more about the osteopathic profession, and what makes D.O.s distinct and highly qualified to provide excellent patient care. Please have a safe and healthy 2021.

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