History of Osteopathic Medicine in North Carolina

The following information comes from the research of NCOMA President Emeritus Barbara Walker, DO, presented for the first time at the “North Carolina Osteopathic Heritage Lecture” during NCOMA’s convention in 2008. The earliest recorded history of NCOMA dates back to 1904 and encompasses over a century of advances and setbacks for DO’s in North Carolina. It was only in 1995 that DO’s were recognized for full licensure by the NC Medical Board on the basis of osteopathic credentials.


  • Osteopathy was first mentioned in the North Carolina general statutes in 1904. The Medical Practice Act, which describes the rights and responsibilities of a physician, had the following description of Osteopathy:
  • Osteopathy Defined – For the purpose of this article, Osteopathy is defined to be the science of healing without the use of drugs, as taught by the various colleges of osteopathy recognized by the North Carolina Osteopathic Society, Incorporated.”
  • The first annual meeting of the North Carolina Osteopathic Society was held in October in Greensboro.
  • The fees to join the Society were $4 and the annual dues $2. (Office calls were also $2.)


  • There were 3,606 total AOA members: 2428 males and 1178 females.
  • The population of North Carolina was 1,900,000 and there were 17 DOs in the state.
  • The establishment of the Board of Osteopathy to license DOs in the state was lauded as a great victory for the profession.
  • “The object of the North Carolina Osteopathic Society shall be to unite the osteopaths of this State for mutual aid, encouragement, and improvements; to encourage scientific research in the laws of the health and treatment of diseases of the human family; to elevate the standard of professional thought and conduct in the practice of osteopathy and to restrict the practice of osteopathy to persons educated and trained in the science and possessing a diploma from a reputable college of osteopathic medicine.”


  • Osteopathic hospital was first mentioned – in Raleigh
  • Female D.O. first mentioned in the minutes


  • Certificates were first issued similar to the certificate issued by the A.O.A. showing that the holder has the right to practice osteopathy.
  • W. Banks Meacham, D.O. of Asheville served as President of the American Osteopathic Association


  • The Society voted to change its bylaws so as to enable it to become a Sectional Society of the A.O.A. The new constitution was then adopted.
  • The secretary was authorized to make application to the A.O.A. for membership as a Sectional Society.


  • The Society agreed to affiliate with the Virginia and Washington DC Osteopathic Societies in the formation of a district association.
  • The treasurer was authorized to pay this district association annually $5 dues for each of the Society’s members.
  • The formation of the Mid-Atlantic Osteopathic Association was endorsed.


  • A bill to increase practice privileges had been introduced in the 1947 assembly, but was defeated in committee.
  • The effort proved an expensive one, as high-priced lobbyists had been engaged. Plans were made to plan for another effort in 1949.


  • A contract was signed for the Society which provided for outpatient osteopathic treatment of service connected disabilities of veterans, subject to the various rules and regulations of the Veterans Administration.
  • Osteopathic physicians and surgeons were appointed to serve in the Veterans Administration, Department of Medicine and Surgery.


  • $10,000 was given to National Osteopathic Foundation to help students with loans while asking them to practice in NC after internship for a minimum of 2 years. 
  • First mention of Medical Board licensing DOs.


  • AOA had called about a new proposal by the NC Board of Medical Examiners would call for 6 months internship by a DO 

    in an allopathic hospital before qualifying for a NC license.

  • Matter was to be brought to the attention of Gov Hunt as a violation of the individual rights of all Osteopathic Physicians.


  • Governmental Evaluation Committee Public Hearing regarding the Osteopathic Board which at that time was only doing renewals. There were only 12 active osteopaths licensed under the Board of Osteopathy.  Required to limit their practice to non-drug and non-surgical treatment.
  • NCOS recommended a separate Board for DOs that licensed all Osteopathic Physicians.


  • The AOA sent a regional representative to NC to re-establish the state association.
  • Three physicians attended:
  • Guy Funk, D.O.
  • Barbara Walker, D.O.
  • Air Force hand surgeon
  • Dr. Walker selected as President


  • Osteopathic National Boards were accepted for licensure by the North Carolina Medical Board (but only if all three parts were taken after January 1990).


  • The North Carolina Medical Board granted licenses by reciprocity to osteopathic physicians who were board certified by the American Board of Medical Specialists.


  • A reciprocity option was added to the licensing options for ABMS Board Certified physicians who held a medical license granted by the medical board of another state. (Some debate continued to occur if the licensing board in the other state was a separate osteopathic board.)


  • The reciprocity option was updated to include American Board of Medical Specialists and American Osteopathic Association approved boards. (Based on supporting documentation from the American Medical Association that these were the only valid certifying boards in the United States.)

Since 2000

  • Residency in Family Medicine at Fayetteville approved by AOA- affiliated with Nova Southeastern OPTI.
  • First year IM and FM approved in Wilmington. Subsequently Family Medicine residency approved – affiliated with Appalachia-OPTIC at Pikeville.


  • Donald Jablonski, D.O. selected to serve on the NC Medical Board
  • First DO ever to serve on this board


  • Barbara Walker elected as 2nd Vice President of the A.O.A


  • Barbara Walker elected as 1st Vice President of the American Osteopathic Association.



  • On Wednesday, November 18th, 2009, a historic milestone for osteopathic physicians in North Carolina was reached. The event was the appointment of Don Jablonski, D.O. as President of the North Carolina Medical Board. The Board recognized him as the first osteopathic doctor to hold the office. Dr. Jablonski a tireless promoter of D.O.’s advantages and involvement within the State’s medical fraternity was selected and proposed to the Board by the North Carolina Osteopathic Medical Association, leading to his acceptance and climb up through the ranks of the Board.


North Carolina's first college of osteopathic medicine, the Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of of Osteopathic Medicine, enrolls their first class of students.