This industry consists of offices and clinics of licensed doctors of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) and engaged in the practice of general or specialized osteopathic medicine and surgery. Establishments operating as clinics of osteopathic physicians are included in this industry. Like medical doctors, doctors of osteopathic medicine are complete physicians with at least four years of medical school training; however, they differ from medical doctors by focusing on structural derangement, especially that of the spinal cord, as the chief cause of disease.
Offices of Physicians (except Mental Health Specialists)
Offices of Physicians, Mental Health Specialists
According to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), in 2006 there were 52,827 doctors of osteopathy (DOs) in the United States, making up about 6 percent of all physicians nationwide. Of these doctors, approximately 65 percent practice in the primary care fields. Although DOs represent less than 6 percent of all physicians, they account for 15 percent of all physicians practicing in rural areas with populations of 2,500 or less. Their fields of specialty include surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, neurology, and internal medicine.
This branch of medicine has grown considerably since 1970, when there were just over 14,300 DOs practicing in the United States. Ten years later, that number had jumped to 18,800, and by 1990 the number of practicing osteopathic doctors had climbed to 30,000, with only 2 percent working in hospitals and another 2 percent teaching. By 2001 the total number of DOs had grown to 47,000. It is estimated that at least 100,000 osteopathic physicians will be in active medical practice by the year 2020. The AOA estimates that DOs receive some 100 million patient visits annually. The greatest future demand for DOs will be in rural and suburban areas. Employment is expected to grow faster than average, with the best prospects being in primary care fields such as family practice, geriatrics, and preventive care.
There has been a continued steady increase in the number of students pursuing studies in osteopathic medicine, according to the AOA; by the mid-2000s enrollment had increased nearly 30 percent since the beginning of the decade. The number of students enrolled in osteopathic colleges in 2005-2006 was 13,406. In addition, the 23 U.S. colleges of osteopathic...