The Kirksville Experience: Where Osteopathic Medicine Began

Dr. Andrew Taylor Still learned as a country physician in the early 1900s, by apprenticeship. He was probably a good surgeon, as the Union Army had to take an exam for surgeons before they could be accepted into their Surgical Corps. He was disenchanted by the treatments that were used at the time, which relied on poisons such as arsenic and strychnine. Mercury, foxglove, and mercury were also commonly used. He created a manipulation system to replace the drugs that were commonly used. After much reflection and encouragement from Dr. Still opened Kirksville's American School of Osteopathy(ASO) one year prior to the opening of Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1892. More than 15,000 Kirksville alumni have impacted many patients over the last 118 year.

Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine's goal is to provide the best preparation for graduates entering their next phase of medical training – residencies. Recent survey results showed that residency directors highly value KCOM's graduates. 97% said they would consider taking more KCOM students based upon their experiences. We encourage students to pursue primary care careers, as many of them work on the front lines of healthcare. Many physicians who have both an allopathic and osteopathic education work in tandem, much like dentists with Doctors of Dental Surgery or Doctors of Dental Medicine.

KCOM is proud of some graduates who have achieved extraordinary specializations. Lisa Rogers (DO), the second-ranked neuro-oncologist worldwide, and who established the Cleveland Clinic's neuro-oncology programme, is an alumnus of KCOM. Richard Theriault's DO degree from KCOM is the one that has been credited with being a leading authority on breast tumors during pregnancy in MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston. Michael Jaffe founded the Massachusetts General Hospital's first vascular research laboratory. KCOM expanded into Mesa, Arizona in the 1990s. This campus then became the A. T. Still University of Health Sciences. ATSU includes four schools, including KCOM. Included are the School of Osteopathic Medicine of Arizona and the Arizona School of Health Sciences. Kirksville's program also includes a School of Health Management.

KCOM awards the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree (or DO) and an innovative Master's Degree based on research. KCOM only accepts 172 out of over 3,000 applications it receives each year. The discipline-based education keeps students busy during their first 2 years with standardized patient interactions, the most advanced human patient simulator laboratory, and the usual anatomies, histology, microbiology, and anatomy laboratories. The Complete DO history course, physical examination and osteopathic manipulative techniques are taught to students in their first two years. We provide the most advanced and largest laboratory for osteopathic manipulative medical education. Connell Information Technology Center has been built with $13 million of donations.

There is a growing selection of elective options for students. Students can take courses in literature in medicine, spirituality in medical care and other areas to help them grow as individuals and not only become competent osteopathic doctors. Students can take elective courses to enhance their knowledge of specific medical areas. For example, the online course in clinical pharmacology is offered to students during rotations. Also, students have the option of service-learning classes such as Court Appointed Attorney (CASA), which is a service-learning course. Students with an 80% grade point average may elect to get 30 hours of CASA training. CASA volunteer officers perform social history on children who are abused, neglected or caught in the system. They provide reports and testimony to assist judges in deciding what is the best option for children without any other advocate. This course helps to improve communication skills such as written and spoken language, critical thinking and handling difficult situations.

Students are encouraged not only to work hard, but also to get involved in community projects. Each recognized campus organization must conduct a community-service project. KCOM was listed on President's Service Honor Roll both years in the past for the service quality, quantity, and quantity that staff, students, and faculty provide to the local community. This year ATSU has been recognized as an entire university on the "

Presidential Service Honor Roll With Distinction

KCOM has a unique "Society System", launched in 2001. Students are grouped in medium size groups by highly qualified faculty to allow them to become better acquainted with each other, to be coached, to mentor and to discipline. Volunteer faculty take small groups of students interested in international learning to Belize or Guatemala.

Before leaving campus, all students must pass the written and practical tests. KCOM demands that all third-year students undergo similar testing. The National Board of Medical Examiners NBME shelf exam must be completed by students at the conclusion of their rotations. Our students are supported by learning specialists and counsellors throughout their four-year program. A Clinical Educational Affairs Associate Dean supervises all clinical activities for third and fourth-year students in order to ensure quality.

Kirksville is a unique place that encourages its students to get involved in extracurricular activities. Most of these are student-run professional organizations or religious organizations. Students hold international food nights and a skit night where they show off their talents and poke fun at faculty, administration, and one another. There are three main annual celebrations at the school: Founder's Day to honor our graduates and interact with them. White Coat Ceremonies, where students meet alumni. And Commencement. When graduates receive their degrees, they publicly take the Osteopathic Oath, entering the osteopathic field.

KCOM ATSU remains proud of the past, but is also focused on transforming into a contemporary community-based medical school. Its graduates are known for their compassion and competence, which would make any residency program proud.


  • sofiamiller

    I am Sofia Miller, a 21-year-old blogger and student. I love writing, and I'm passionate about education and learning. I blog about a variety of educational topics, from student life to university admissions. I also write about parenting and lifestyle topics.

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