Women in Osteopathic Medicine

In 1892, Andrew Taylor Still did the unimaginable when he accepted women and men equally in his newly opened American School of Osteopathy. Thomas Quinn, DO, showcases some of the valiant women who rose above adversity to become osteopathic doctors in those early years, and includes prominent women osteopathic physicians up to the present time. The stories of their fight against the inequality of the sexes in medicine are intertwined with the struggles of osteopathy to be accepted as a valid scientific practice, illuminating the innovative and determined individuals who helped osteopathic medicine develop into the flourishing profession it is today. (Truman State University Press)

This is a companion website to Dr. Quinn's book.

All royalities from book sales go towards student scholarships!

09 October 2011

Book Review - AAOJ - "The Feminine Touch"

Book Review— The Feminine Touch: Women in
Osteopathic Medicine by Thomas A. Quinn, DO
Copyright © 2011 Truman State University Press
Rebecca Giusti, DO
Thomas Quinn has written a truly remarkable book.
He delves into the importance of women in the osteopathic
profession in purely eloquent and concise language. While
I feel that every osteopathic physician, and any female
applicant to an osteopathic medical school, should read
this book, it is applicable to anyone who wants a complete
education in all aspects of Osteopathy.
For those who have questions about the scarcity
of osteopathic hospitals compared to allopathic ones,
the infamous California merger and its
subsequent reversal, and the presence of
DOs in the armed forces, this is the book
for you. For those who desire a crash course
on the history of osteopathic medicine, A.T.
Still, and the formation of medical education
in this country, again, this is the book for
The reader is treated to delightfully
readable accounts of notable female
osteopathic physicians, from the beginning
of the profession to the present day. Dr.
Quinn demonstrates how the evolution
of the osteopathic profession and women
became intertwined and inseparable as
Dr. Still welcomed them to the profession from the start.
Whether the reader is male or female, he or she cannot help
but admire the tenacity and strength of these women, and
the profession itself, and to be inspired by all they have
accomplished in the name of Osteopathy and humankind.
The many pictures and quotes—some from A.T. Still
himself—that Dr. Quinn has chosen for this book bring his
words to life. The glossary makes it complete and userfriendly
for all readers. The book itself truly embodies
the spirit of the team approach prevalent in all aspects of
medicine. Dr. Quinn recognizes not only female osteopathic
physicians and researchers, but also osteopathic nurses and
other influential women, such as patients, supporters and
other healthcare professionals who enabled the profession
to survive and flourish.
As a woman, an assistant professor at an osteopathic
medical school and an osteopathic physician, I greatly
appreciated this book. It intensified my pride in being part
of such a dedicated and noble profession, and in being a
female osteopathic physician. As physicians, it is easy
to get wrapped up in our lives at present—seeing our
patients, performing administrative duties and caring for
our families. But reading these pages drew me out of my
world and allowed me to wonder at and contemplate the
achievements of those who have gone before
me and my contemporaries. All of these
people are inspiring and renewed my desire
to be the best osteopathic physician I can be.
I wish I could have read something of
this nature prior to applying to osteopathic
medical school, as I feel it would have
made my knowledge and respect for
this profession even deeper. It was a
quick read—important for all of us busy
physicians—but it gave me greater insight
into the profession, the evolution of medical
education and the contributions of members
of my gender. I am grateful to Dr. Quinn
for providing such a well-organized, wellresearched
gem, and I will definitely recommend this book
to our osteopathic medical school applicants, as well as
currently enrolled students.
Accepted for publication: May 2011
Address correspondence to:
Rebecca Giusti, DO

29 June 2011

Andrew T. Still, MD, DO "Liberator of Women"

One of the many titles bestowed on Andrew Taylor Still, DO during his lifetime was “Liberator of Women”.  This is one of the least known of his monikers, but after “Founder of Osteopathic Medicine”, it is probably the most important.

Dr. Still was well deserving of this title.  There is probably no other individual in this country and possibly throughout the world who did more than Dr. Still to liberate women and to make it possible for women to study and enter into professional life on an equal basis as men..

Let’s look at just some of his more notable accomplishments that earned Dr. Still this esteemed title: “LIBERATOR OF WOMEN”.

In 1892, the year that he opened the American School of Osteopathy (ASO) there were 105 medical schools in the United States.  Of these, there were 68 medical schools that refused to accept any female students at all.  Of the remaining 37 schools there were 32 schools that accepted an occasional token female and there were five all female medical schools that did not accept any male students.

·        The ASO was the first medical school in the United States that accepted both male and female students from the first day it opened on 3 October 1892. This medical college continues today as the A. T. Still University, Kirksville College of Osteopathic  Medicine.
o       The following year 1893 Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (JHSOM) opened as the first allopathic college to be co-educational since it’s founding.  It was originally planed that JHSOM was to be an all male school, but a group of 25 well-to-do Baltimore women offered a grant of a half million dollars (an extremely large grant for that era) with the condition that the school accept female students.  JHSOM decided to accept women in order to obtain the grant.  Thus JHSOM became the second medical school in this country to accept both male and female students from the day they opened.

·        The ASO was the first medical school in this country to have true equality of male and female students. 
o       The original catalogue of the ASO stated:
Women are admitted on the same terms as men.  It is the policy of the school that there shall be no distinction as to sex, and that all shall have the same opportunities, and be held to the same requirements.  They pursue the same studies, attend the same lectures, are subject to the same rules, and pass the same examinations.

·        In the entire history of the profession founded by Dr. Still there has never been any osteopathic medical school that did not accept both male and female students.  There has never been an all male or all female osteopathic medical school.

·        There is only one documented incidence where Dr. Still showed sexual favoritism and that was in the admission fees to his school.  Male students were charged $500. per year whereas he charged only $200. per year for female students.  There is no documented reason for this difference in tuition.  Based on Dr. Still’s long history of support and encouragement of women to enter early osteopathy, I believe that he did this to encourage female enrollment into the osteopathic medical school.  During this time it was extremely difficult for women to gain acceptance into most other medical schools.

·        In the infirmary of the ASO, Dr. Still insisted that there should always be at least one female osteopathic physician available to see patients at all times.

·        During Dr. Still’s lifetime there are many documented instances of Dr. Still offering praise and encouragement to women to practice osteopathy.

·        Dr. Still immediately following the graduation of the first female DO, (Nettie Bolles, DO) offered her a position as a professor at the ASO.

·        Dr. Still appointed a female DO as the first editor of the Journal of Osteopathy and encouraged her to devote a section of the journal to women. 

·        During Dr. Still’s lifetime the majority of the editors of the Journal of Osteopathy were females, appointed to the position by him.

During his entire lifetime Dr. Still was surrounded by strong women.  His mother was a true pioneer woman on the American frontier.  He was married twice.  His first wife died shortly after childbirth.  His second wife was with him during the trials and hardships prior to the founding of osteopathy.  They were married for 51 years when she died in 1910.  The stories of Dr. Still’s wives will be coming next.

Tom Quinn, DO, FAOCOPM

Additional links for information on osteopathic medicine:
American Osteopathic Association - http://www.osteopathic.org/Pages/default.aspx

American Association of Colages of Osteopathic Medicine-

Museum of Osteopathic Medicine-