The June 1 article on the shortage of physicians (“In rural Maine, dearth of doctors is a growing crisis”) failed to provide an accurate picture of health care in rural Maine and overlooked an important population: osteopathic physicians, also known as DOs.

Along with the traditional medical school training our M.D. counterparts receive, DOs have additional education and training that best prepares them for practice in the rural setting, specifically the utilization of osteopathic manipulative medicine.

It is this distinctiveness and emphasis on primary care that have enabled DOs to become one of the fastest-growing segments in health care.

It is estimated that more than 100,000 osteopathic physicians will be in active medical practice by the year 2020.

Since its founding in 1978, the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine has graduated more than 2,500 DOs who have had an extraordinary impact on health care in Maine in general, and in rural Maine in particular.

Specifically, DOs represent 15 percent of all primary care physicians in Maine, and at least one out of every four physicians in rural Maine is a UNECOM graduate.

The lack of any acknowledgment of osteopathic physicians in your article is deeply concerning to the Maine Osteopathic Association, which represents more than 900 osteopathic physicians, residents and students in Maine.

Due to an aging U.S. population and a preference by medical school graduates to enter specialty practice, the country is facing an impending primary care physician shortage.

However, more than 60 percent of DOs pursue careers in primary care, including general practice, family practice, pediatrics, internal medicine and obstetrics-gynecology.

Excluding osteopathic physicians – who are frequently the front-line physicians treating rural Maine families – from a discussion about primary care in Maine fails to provide an accurate depiction of the state’s entire physician workforce.

Jack Forbush, DO

president, Maine Osteopathic Association