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Back to Table of Contents | October 2012

Letters to the Editor

Osteopaths overlooked
I read with great interest Dr. Peter Kernahan’s article “Was There Ever a ‘Golden Age’ of Medicine?” (September, p. 41). I found his short history to be thought-provoking. Yet although the article is quite encompassing, it never mentions osteopathic medicine.

Since osteopathic medicine’s founding in 1874 by Andrew Taylor Still, D.O., M.D., in Kirksville, Missouri, the profession has grown to the extent that there are currently 26 osteopathic medicine schools in the United States that graduate approximately 3,600 new osteopathic physicians (DOs) annually. The number of graduates is projected to increase to 4,700 by 2013.

At this time, there are more than 82,000 DOs in the United States. This number is on the rise, as more than 20,000 students are currently enrolled in osteopathic medical schools nationwide. (One in five medical students in the United States is enrolled in a college of osteopathic medicine.)

Osteopathic medicine has also had a rich history within our state. Red Wing was the first city outside of Kirksville to have a permanent office for the practice of osteopathic medicine. This was the office of Doctors Harry and Charlie Still, the sons of Dr. Andrew Still, D.O., M.D.

In 1896, Minneapolis was the site of the third osteopathic medical school ever established. The Northern College of Osteopathy graduated about 230 students before it merged with the osteopathic medical college in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1902.

The predecessor of today’s Minnesota Osteopathic Medical Society was organized in 1899. The first Minnesota osteopathic practice law was passed in 1903, giving D.O.s every right they desired, and. Today, nearly 600 osteopathic physicians are practicing in Minnesota. Many, like me, are members of the Minnesota Medical Association.

Leonid Skorin, Jr., D.O., O.D., M.S. | President, Minnesota Osteopathic Medical Society

Author’s response
I thank Dr. Skorin for his very informative letter. He rightly directs our attention to the history of osteopathic medicine, particularly in Minnesota, and to the prominent role of D.O.s in today’s health care system. I will only add that the article was not intended to be a comprehensive history of medicine but was written to address some of the questions raised by positing a “golden age” of medicine. For readers interested in learning more about the history of osteopathic medicine, I would recommend Norman Gevitz’ The D.O.s: Osteopathic Medicine in America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), E. C. Goblirsch’s The History of Osteopathy in Minnesota (Minnesota Osteopathic Medical Society, 1982) and Thomas A. Quinn’s The Feminine Touch: The History of Women in Osteopathic Medicine (Truman State University Press, 2011).

Peter J. Kernahan, M.D.

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