The American Osteopathic Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award honors an individual who has made significant fundamental contributions to the osteopathic profession and has demonstrated a lifetime of commitment to osteopathic medicine, its principles and practice. Toward that end, the American Osteopathic Foundation (AOF) is honored to recognize Ray E. Stowers, DO, as the recipient of the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award.

AOF Board President Dixie Tooke Rawlins, DO, who nominated Dr. Stowers for this award, says he has “truly achieved greatness through integrity, commitment to service and community involvement. This award recognizes his combined body of exemplary work, demonstrated leadership, and passion for, and unwavering commitment to, the osteopathic profession. He truly represents the best of what osteopathic medicine is all about.”

Dr. Stowers is currently Vice President of Academic Affairs for the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education and Dean of the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine. His prior roles include Founding Dean of Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) and Associate Dean for Rural Health at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine.

As a premedical student at Philips University, Dr. Stowers was invited by a group of local DOs to learn about the osteopathic medical profession and was struck both by how they treated him as “part of the family” and their philosophy of treating the patient as a whole. He then interviewed at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine (KCUMB-COM) and shared, “I got that same feeling of family, that they really wanted to know who I was. The Dean invited me to his home to eat and offered me a position in the school. I later got an offer from another MD school but told them I had found my family, and I’m still among my family today.”

Throughout his career, Dr. Stowers always sought to improve the status quo, and has followed leadership opportunities that enabled him to do so. He has served as President of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association (OOA). He was the first DO to serve on the federal Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, better known as MedPAC, and the Physician Payment Review Commission.

Of his record of transformative leadership, Dr. Stowers says “I never did think about doing it for the sake of being OOA President or AOA President. I was just getting into a position to make a difference with the way things are. The thing that’s driven me the most is looking to where I could make the biggest difference.”

Dr. Stowers earned his DO degree from KCUMB-COM and completed a traditional rotating internship at Tulsa Regional Medical Center. For 25 years, he practiced family medicine in rural Oklahoma as the only physician in a 300-mile radius and established five health clinics serving rural Oklahoma and Kansas. This sparked a lifelong passion for rural medicine, increasing access to care for underserved populations and bringing training opportunities and physicians to rural regions of the country. He helped found the Oklahoma Rural Health Policy and Research Center; and set up clinical training sites and telemedicine throughout Oklahoma.

Of the future, Dr. Stowers says “We’re now a significant player in medical education across the country and I’m excited about the growth of our profession as long as it’s done with quality. No profession in this country is better prepared to deal with health professional shortages than us. We’re the right profession at the right time.”

Dr. Stowers has received countless honors throughout his illustrious career. The American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians gave him both the Family Physician of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Awards. In 2011, Tennessee Osteopathic Medical Association presented him with the Paul Grayson Smith, Sr., Physician of the Year Award. And, the AOA honored him with its Distinguished Service Certificate.

Winning this award is “very humbling,” Dr. Stowers says. “Personally, I was overwhelmed with humility and wondered ‘why me?’ Professionally, there’s always a sense of appreciation for being recognized by your profession and for that I’m very thankful.”