The AOA fought hard to obtain professional recognition and autonomy for the field through increasing educational standards and gaining state approval for independent osteopathic registration boards. In addition, like the AMA and organizations for other emerging professions, the AOA adopted a code of ethics to help convince the public and the state that its practitioners were reputable. Such codes of ethics still play a role in maintaining the reputations of professions and in policing the behavior of professionals as “Ethical Debate: Pharmacists and Conscience Clauses,” p. 286, discusses.
The AOA’s fight for professional recognition proved highly successful. By 1901, and despite strong opposition from doctors and medical societies, 15 states legally recognized osteopathy. By 1923, osteopathic colleges required as many years of education as medical colleges, and all but two states licensed osteopaths. Nevertheless, although threats from allopathic medicine have failed to eliminate osteopathy, changes from within raise questions about its future as an indepen- dent field. By the 1920s, most osteopaths had concluded that to compete with allopathic doctors, they would have to offer a similar range of patient services. As a result, osteopaths increasingly treated patients with acute illnesses as well as those with chronic illnesses. In addition, osteopathic colleges continued to teach spinal manipulation but added courses in surgery and obstetrics, often taught out of medical textbooks. By the end of the decade, in a major break with its founder, the AOA mandated that osteopathic colleges provide a course in “supplementary therapeutics,” including drugs. Thus, osteopathy began moving toward a merger with allopathic medicine.