Book Review  |   May 2005
The DOs: Osteopathic Medicine in America
Author Affiliations
  • Gilbert E. D'Alonzo, Jr, DO
    American Osteopathic Association
    Editor in Chief
Article Information
Book Review   |   May 2005
The DOs: Osteopathic Medicine in America
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, May 2005, Vol. 105, 240. doi:
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, May 2005, Vol. 105, 240. doi:
The DOs: Osteopathic Medicine in America, originally the author's doctoral dissertation, has recently gone into its second edition after remaining in print for over 20 years. This paperback update of the 1982 text also includes two new chapters, “In a Sea of Change” and “The Challenge of Distinctiveness,” and remains a stimulating read. The author, Norman Gevitz, PhD, is currently a professor of the history of medicine and the chairman of the department of social medicine at Ohio University. 
When I began reading Dr Gevitz's book, I truthfully could not put it down. The flow of information was complete, connected, and highly meaningful to me as an osteopathic physician. When I finished the book, my interest in the history and development of the osteopathic medical profession was reinvigorated. I also felt that I had learned more about my profession than I ever had before. 
The first several chapters of this book (“Andrew Taylor Still,” “The Missouri Mecca,” “In the Field”) carefully explain the roots of osteopathic medicine and describe the development of the basic tenets of our profession. 
In the next few chapters (“Structure and Function,” “Expanding the Scope,” “The Push for Higher Standards”), I developed a clearer understanding of the politics—both internal and external—that the osteopathic medical profession struggled with in the early part of the 20th century. 
At the end of his fourth chapter, “Structure and Function,” Dr Gevitz begins describing the evolution of the relationship between osteopathic physicians and chiropractors. Dr Gevitz returns to this topic on several occasions later in the text as well. 
In “The Push for Higher Standards,” Dr Gevitz's notes how the practice of medicine in the United States was revolutionized in the early 20th century by professional and public scrutiny into medical education. The public was informed of the poor conditions of the nation's medical schools with the 1910 publication of Abraham Flexner's report titled Medical Education in the United States and Canada, a survey-based study that was funded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and completed in coordination with the American Medical Association's Council on Medical Education. 
Flexner's damning report insisted on thoroughgoing reform of the nation's medical education system—including the osteopathic medical education system as practiced in all 8 colleges of osteopathic medicine, noting that “not one `of the eight osteopathic schools is in a position to give such training as osteopathy demands.' “Though changes within the osteopathic medical profession were slow in coming, Dr Gevitz's description of the profession's response to this nationwide challenge was clear and enlightening. It was in the midst of this challenge that the profession found opportunity, stimulation, and a strong impetus to begin the necessary improvements to our educational system. 
In reading The DOs: Osteopathic Medicine in America, I gained an understanding of the most dramatic transformation within the profession: the transition from a discipline that treats patients mainly with osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) to one that also incorporates pharmacotherapy, surgery, and a variety of other treatment modalities. Although the traditional role of the primary care provider was essential for the expansion and acceleration of the osteopathic medical profession, as osteopathic physicians developed greater interest in treatment modalities other than OMT, they began to provide serious competition for their allopathic counterparts. 
As osteopathic physicians then began pursuing full medical practice rights, they encountered challenging politic realities. Once state medical boards began recognizing osteopathic medicine as a legitimate healthcare delivery system and insurers began providing payment, osteopathic medicine underwent remarkable growth reflected mainly in the proliferation of our medical schools. 
This book is scholarly and extremely well referenced but remains enjoyable and easy to read. It is a major contribution to not only the osteopathic literature but the healthcare literature in general. I truly believe that any individual who is interested in modern healthcare must read The DOs: Osteopathic Medicine in America. ♦ 
 By Norman Gevitz, PhD. 2nd ed, 264 pp, $24.95. ISBN 0-8018-7834-9. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press; 2004.
 Editor's note: JAOA—The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association strongly encourages interested parties to submit reviews for books on topics that might be of interest to The Journal's readers. Although JAOA is mainly interested in books about osteopathic medicine, we are also interested in books written by osteopathic physicians on any topic.