Hayley W. Ryan. “Whatever You Are, Be a Good One”: Osteopathic Identity, Equality, and the California Merger. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2011;111(5):339–343. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2011.111.5.339.
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In the early 1960s, Dorothy Marsh, DO, then president of the California Osteopathic Association, ardently promoted an amalgamation with the California Medical Association that would eliminate the doctorate of osteopathy (ie, DO) degree and grant medical doctor (MD) degrees to DO holders. Marsh traveled extensively throughout California in an effort to gain support for the merger, which passed in spring 1961. The osteopathic medical community tends to view the California merger as a dark period in history of the profession, a devastating loss of members and facilities. Yet, on the day it was signed, Marsh called the event a “historic achievement in the field of osteopathy.” Using primary documents from the Dorothy Marsh Collection at the University of California, Los Angeles, the author attempts to understand the reasons why an osteopathic physician would fight so passionately to abandon her own professional identity. These documents shed light on Marsh's motivations and the perspectives of merger supporters and opponents during this period.
My family and I wish to protest against the merger of Osteopaths and M.D.s [allopathic physicians]. After a long struggle for recognition it seems a shame to hand over your fine college and hospitals to medical men. We do hope we will still be given a chance in choosing our family doctor under the identity of osteopath.
I am sure deep down you feel some shame regarding the professions actions in California. I sincerely hope that those who did not oppose this irresponsible, immature action live to regret it.
We are a minority and the CMA is not going to let us forget it, no matter what they may do to bury us as a separate group.... I have been much pleased with your work in OBGYN [obstetrics and gynecology]. I am not so sure of your ability in politics.
She had a lot of insight into why she wanted to be a D.O. It was very difficult for her to make the choice as to give up her D.O. degree to become an M.D.... it took a lot of inner strength to make that decision. She had a hard time doing it. I know she did.
Four Score and 7 years ago, AT Still brought forth on this continent a concept, conceived in Kansas and dedicated to the proposition that men have within themselves the ability to maintain health and to recover if afflicted by disease; and that both these states would be enhanced by the frequent laying on of the hands of a physician.
This profession, soon under the aegis of medicine shall have a new birth of freedom, and that the musculoskeletal system, which medicine now recognizes as a component of the care of man, shall not perish from this earth.
“I have come to the conclusion that the things I have worked so hard for all my professional life will have a better chance of being scientifically proven, developed, and established by the unification of COA and CMA.
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