Today@Sam Article

Raising Awareness - National Osteopathic Medicine Week

April 21, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti

SHSUPhys680-960x686This year’s observance of National Osteopathic Medicine Week (April 18-24) highlights the proud 129-year heritage of osteopathic medicine, celebrating the momentous contributions of Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) within the healthcare system and in the lives of millions of patients.

In Texas, more than 6,000 licensed osteopathic physicians are dedicated to improving the health of their communities through education and awareness-based efforts in addition to delivering quality health services.

At Sam Houston State University, medical professionals and administrators who comprise the College of Osteopathic Medicine share a strong commitment to developing qualified doctors to meet the state’s growing need for rural primary care physicians.

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine

DOs believe there is more to good health than the absence of pain or disease. Making a difference in healthcare, DOs focus on prevention by gaining a deeper understanding of your lifestyle and environment, rather than just treating symptoms.

DO facts:

  • Promotes preventive medicine with a focus on treating the whole patient, not just the disease
  • Today, 121,006 DOs are practicing in the U.S.
  • Like all physicians in the U.S., DOs are licensed in all 50 states to practice medicine
  • About 57 percent of DOs are trained in primary care
  • More than half of all DOs in active practice are under the age of 45
  • In 2019, women comprised 41 percent of all DOs
  • 20 percent of DOs choose to work in medically underserved areas

COMStudentSHSU College of Osteopathic Medicine

Chosen for their exceptional professional credentials and ability to enrich the lives of medical students, the college’s diverse and talented COM team bring a wide variety of specializations to SHSU including biochemistry, physiology, pathology and anatomy and physicians with a variety of specialty training and clinical experience. Their professionalism and first-hand healthcare experience make them ideal mentors for fostering and teaching compassionate patient care to future generations.

In 2020, the SHSU College of Osteopathic Medicine (SHSU-COM) officially launched their first class, enlisting 75 students to address the physician workforce shortage in Texas. According to Dr. Charles Henley, dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, the state faces a significant shortage of physicians practicing primary care.

“Texas ranks 32nd in the nation for total medical student enrollment (per 100,000 population), yet the state is 2nd in population growth. Texas also ranks near the bottom (47th) for number of primary care physicians,” Henley said.

SHSU-COM was established in response to this shortage and is focused on the Eastern region of Texas. 

“Over 80 percent of the counties in this service area are designated by the federal government as Medically Underserved or a Health Profession Shortage Area,” Henley said. “The need to change the medical workforce in Eastern Texas is even found in our mission statement.”

Providing access to primary care in rural regions is one of the focal points of the SHSU-COM. By creating a pipeline program in recruiting students from focused service areas, the college will be able to train a cadre of students who return to those same regions for residency training and future practice.


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