Fewer new DOs picking primary care

The number of new osteopathic residents choosing subspecialties is growing.

By Myrle Croasdale — Posted March 15, 2004

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Some 30% of applicants from the 2003-04 class of senior osteopathic medical students matched with primary care programs during the American Osteopathic Assn. Intern/Resident Registration Program in February.

Roughly 60% of practicing DOs are in primary care, according to the AOA, but Mitchell Kasovac, DO, who is past president of the AOA and director of medical education at Mesa General Hospital in Phoenix, confirmed that DOs, like MDs, increasingly are moving into subspecialties.

"There is growing interest in subspecialties from the DOs," Dr. Kasovac said. "When I graduated, 85% to 90% of the DOs of that time went into primary care. Gradually, about 10 years ago, it got down to 65%, and today it's more like 50%."

Dr. Kasovac said emergency medicine and orthopedics are two popular residencies among DOs.

Interest in residencies through the allopathic physicians' National Residency Matching Program was evident this year as well.

Some 1,205 or 43.5% of the 2003-04 graduating class of 2,769 osteopathic students opted for osteopathic residencies, while the rest of the class did not participate.

In recent years, roughly 40% to 50% of the graduates from osteopathic medical schools chose to find residencies through the Match, which offers a broader geographic distribution of programs and more subspecialty positions.

A number of programs in the Match are accredited by both the osteopaths and the allopaths.

According to the NRMP, there were 1,408 osteopathic physicians who participated in the 2003 NRMP Match, with 995 of them landing PGY-1 positions. Of these, 66% matched with primary care residencies.

The 2004 NRMP Match had not yet taken place at press time.

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