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iConnect News


ATSU on leading edge of healthcare reform, addressing physician shortage

May 12, 2010
Posted In: KCOM, SOMA, University Headlines

MESA, Ariz. – In an era of healthcare reform legislation addressing healthcare coverage for all, healthcare economics, physician shortages and the concept of wellness, A.T. Still University (ATSU) already has been leading the way in closing the gap on the shortage of primary care physicians and providing care to the underserved, uninsured, and underinsured. In both its curriculum for medical school students and health program for employees, ATSU focuses on individuals taking personal responsibility for their health and wellness.

  • ATSU’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA) is grounded in the roots of osteopathic medicine, which focuses on wellness, prevention, and the integration of body, mind, and spirit. Andrew Taylor Still, M.D., D.O., was the father of osteopathic medicine and founder of the first college of osteopathic medicine, now ATSU’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM).
  • As a reflection of osteopathic philosophy, the ATSU-SOMA and ATSU-KCOM curriculum emphasizes preventive medicine and comprehensive patient care.
  • ATSU partners with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) to address those living in the nation’s underserved communities. ATSU-SOMA students — in their second year of medical school — continue their basic science and clinical curriculum studies while interacting with patients in Community Health Centers throughout the United States.
  • ATSU is training future healthcare leaders while addressing the physician deficit and helping mitigate the primary care workforce shortages.
  • The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) reports that enrollment at the nation’s colleges of osteopathic medicine has grown by 58 percent since 2002.
  • According to AACOM, approximately 23 percent of medical students are enrolled in osteopathic medical schools.
  • According to the American Medical Association’s 2010 Physician Characteristics and Distribution, there are approximately 954,000 M.D. physicians in the U.S. There are an additional 62,918 osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) in practice.
  • According to the National Center for Analysis of Healthcare Data at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, in 2008 there were 240,022 physicians in the primary care specialties of general practice, internal medicine, family practice and pediatrics; 10 percent of those physicians are D.O.s.
  • ATSU believes that healthcare reform includes advocating personal responsibility for being healthy and is already implementing wellness incentives for employees to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors.
  • ATSU offers employees a chance to take personal responsibility for their health while also receiving a discount on their health insurance premium through its Still Healthy program. Still Healthy not only comprises a reduction in monthly premiums, but employees also are eligible for an annual reimbursement for participating in the program.
  • All employees agree to attend four educational health programs, complete an online health assessment, and agree to be a non-smoker or participate in a smoking cessation program. In addition, all participants agree to a wellness exam paid 100 percent by ATSU.

“People are starting to understand, and research is starting to support, the wisdom of the osteopathic approach to medicine,” said SOMA Dean Douglas Wood, D.O., Ph.D. “Our commitment to whole person healthcare translates naturally into primary care medicine, which is exactly what is so desperately needed in our country right now.”

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