With few MDs practicing in rural areas, a different type of doctor is filling the gap

Osteopathic physicians are increasingly filling the gap in rural areas where there is a shortage of primary care physicians.

The trend: The number of osteopathic physicians (DOs) in the US more than quadrupled from 1990 to 2022, with over half working in primary care.
* While still a minority among physicians, the growth of DOs is helping to address the shortage of primary care doctors in rural areas.

The difference: Although DOs attend separate medical schools from medical doctors (MDs), both types of doctors are licensed to practice the full range of medicine.
* Osteopathic schools tend to have more of a focus on primary care, with many new schools located in rural areas.

Filling the gap: Data from the University of Iowa shows that the number of DOs in rural areas of the state increased by 29% between 2008 and 2022, while the number of MDs dropped more than 19%.
* Osteopathic physicians now make up more than a third of rural Iowa physicians, and that proportion is expected to grow.

View original article on NPR

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