U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin was the lead sponsor of a resolution designating the week of April 18-24, 2022, as National Osteopathic Medicine Week. Manchin is the senior U.S. senator from West Virginia, home to the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM), the state’s largest medical school.
Co-sponsors of the resolution included U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, also of West Virginia, along with Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
The resolution “recognizes the contributions of osteopathic physicians to the United States health care system” and “celebrates the role that schools of osteopathic medicine play in training the next generation of osteopathic physicians.”
Additionally, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice issued a proclamation declaring April 18-24, 2022, to be Osteopathic Physicians Week in West Virginia. Among other information about osteopathic medicine, the proclamation states that “osteopathic physicians, also known as D.O.s, work in partnership with their patients. They consider the impact that lifestyle and community have on the health of everyone, and they work to break down barriers to good health.”
James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., WVSOM’s president, thanked Manchin and Capito for their role in introducing the Senate resolution.
“The roots of osteopathic medicine go back nearly 150 years, and today the profession represents a rapidly growing portion of the physician workforce,” Nemitz said. “It’s fitting that the Senate is acknowledging the significance of this patient-centered form of medicine. Osteopathic medicine recognizes that comprehensive health care includes a focus on the patient as a ‘whole person,’ and that rational treatment is based on an understanding of the principles of body unity, its capacity for self-regulation and the interrelationship of the body’s structure and function.”
In a press release, Manchin cited the role osteopathic physicians are playing in battling the COVID-19 pandemic and provided statistics related to osteopathic medicine among physicians in West Virginia and the state’s presence in osteopathic medical schools nationwide.
“Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine across America and in my state of West Virginia have played a vital role in ensuring Americans have access to the health care they need and deserve during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. There are currently 1,795 osteopathic physicians practicing in West Virginia and 759 West Virginians attending schools of osteopathic medicine throughout the United States,” Manchin said. “I am proud to lead this bipartisan resolution to designate the week of April 18-24, 2022, as National Osteopathic Medicine Week to honor and thank D.O.s across the Mountain State and the nation for their critical contributions and for the schools of osteopathic medicine that are training the next generation of medical professionals.”
Capito said in the release that osteopathic physicians are a fundamental part of the state’s health care workforce.
“National Osteopathic Medicine Week gives us an opportunity to bring awareness to the critical role osteopathic medicine, including those who practice it, plays in the health and well-being of West Virginia’s communities,” she said. “I’m proud to join a bipartisan group of my colleagues in introducing this resolution today, and look forward to continue supporting those who provide these important health care services to West Virginians young and old across our state.”
The resolution states that osteopathic physicians and medical students train at high-caliber schools of medicine across the nation, including in rural communities. While part of WVSOM’s mission is to serve first and foremost the state of West Virginia, emphasizing primary care in rural areas, Nemitz explained that graduates of the school can practice in any specialty.
“Training in the osteopathic philosophy allows physicians to work to improve the health of communities through education and preventive medicine as well as through contributions to all specialties,” Nemitz said. “While many osteopathic physicians go into primary care fields such as family medicine, internal medicine and OB-GYN, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine are found in every medical specialty and subspecialty.”
Last week, Lewisburg mayor Beverly White signed a proclamation declaring April 18-24 to be Celebrate Osteopathic Medicine Week in the city. The American Osteopathic Association also recognizes April 18-24 as National Osteopathic Medicine Week, intended to bring members of the osteopathic community together to raise awareness of osteopathic medicine.