It’s 100 years since Dr. Meta Loretta Christy became the first Black woman in America to graduate from what is now the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. It will also mark two years since Dr. Ashley Roxanne Peterson, now 26, graduated as the youngest Black female osteopathic physician in America from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
The practice of osteopathic medicine began in the United States in 1874; however, it wasn’t until 1892 that Dr. Andrew Taylor Still coined the name and founded the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri, at a time when osteopathic medicine was largely believed to be fraudulent.
Osteopathic medicine takes a whole-person and preventative approach to health care. Osteopathic physicians believe the body’s systems are interconnected and work together to heal the body. They also consider how each patient’s lifestyle and environmental factors impact their well-being. They hold a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree, or D.O., and are equivalent to allopathic physicians, who hold a doctor of medicine degree, or M.D.
“One of the biggest things you can do for your health is to take accountability, by doing some preventative things, such as exercise, lowering your stress levels, taking your medication, vaccines and having screenings like colonoscopies,” said Peterson, who advocates for preventative medicine.