June 11, 2023
Not only is the country's demographics changing, but KFF Health News reported on a trending change within the medical community. The concentration of allopathic doctors (with the MD credential) appear to be dropping in rural areas, while that of osteopathic doctors (with the DO credential) appear to be growing in rural areas. (The article specifically reported on Iowa, but it would not be surprising if this trend held true for other states as well.) What is particularly interesting is the growth in number of each type of physician: "From 1990 to 2022, [osteopathic physician] numbers more than quadrupled, from fewer than 25,000 to over 110,000, according to the Federation of State Medical Boards. In that same period, the number of MDs rose 91%, from about 490,000 to 934,000."
People talk about the projected physician shortage as America's population ages, so the growth in osteopathic medical schools (and therefore the number of graduates) could be one component of helping meet that challenge. It is also interesting that osteopathic physicians tend to be oriented around primary care, while allopathic doctors seem to increasingly specialize.