DMU honors alumnus/surgeon Norman Rose as a Pioneer of Osteopathic Medicine

Want to share a favorite memory or a message of congratulations for Dr. Rose as a DMU Pioneer of Osteopathic Medicine? Please use the form at the bottom of this article.

Forty-six million people: That’s an estimate of how many lives Norman Rose, D.O.’63, FACOS, FICS, DFACOS, has benefited throughout his career – in his surgical practice and through the thousands of osteopathic physicians he’s helped train since graduating in 1963 from the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, now Des Moines University.

Dr. Rose built his illustrious career on his twin passions of osteopathic medicine and teaching. A leader in osteopathic medical organizations, he currently is clinical professor of surgery at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Broward County, FL, and formerly a clinical professor at Larkin University in Miami, Barry University and Kaiser University, also in Broward County. He’s also academic director emeritus of the general surgery residency program, which he founded, at Larkin Community Hospital.

Dr. Rose now has yet another title to add to his distinguished resumé: The DMU Board of Trustees named him a Pioneer of Osteopathic Medicine, an honor given to a very select group of distinguished alumni and faculty who have achieved national prominence through contributions to the art and science of medicine, to the advancement of scientific knowledge and to the enhancement of human welfare through public service. Dr. Rose is only the seventh individual to receive the honor.

“In addition to providing life-saving patient care as an outstanding physician and surgeon, Dr. Norman Rose has contributed enormously to the osteopathic profession and, hence, to better health and quality of life,” says DMU President and CEO Angela L. Walker Franklin, Ph.D. “He continues to have a profound impact by educating and mentoring future health care providers, and we are so proud to honor him as an osteopathic pioneer.”

Dr. Rose began contemplating a career in medicine when he was six; he decided to become a surgeon at age 12, after he had his appendix removed. Years later, as a second-year student at the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, he was invited by Dr. Lloyd Ficke, head of the pathology department, to become his lab assistant. The role included teaching, which he continues to love doing today.

“I’ve been involved in training over 20,000 osteopathic physicians, and I’ve graduated more than 100 surgical residents in my career,” he says. “To me, that is my legacy and the legacy passed on to me by my teachers. I still get excited; I still love it.”

Passionate about service to DMU, osteopathic medicine and health care

As a student at the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery (COMS), now DMU, Dr. Rose was a member of Phi Sigma Gamma and a member and president of Sigma Sigma Phi, the national honorary osteopathic service fraternity. He also served as editor of a then-new student newspaper, The Pulse.

After graduating in 1963, he completed an internship and general surgery residency at Des Moines General Hospital, which offered the first general surgery residency in the profession. During the residency, he was mentored and trained by two early leaders of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons (ACOS), John P. Schwartz, D.O., FACOS, a founder and past president of the College and the first recipient of its highest honor, the Orel F. Martin Medal, in 1956; and Howard A. Graney, D.O., FACOS, also a past ACOS president and the recipient of the Orel F. Martin Medal in 1977. They instilled in Dr. Rose a commitment to teaching, mentoring and service to the profession and to the next generation of osteopathic physicians and surgeons.

Dr. Rose was appointed a full-time assistant professor of surgery and acting chair of the surgery department at COMS in 1969. He taught for years at the college while serving Des Moines General Hospital as chief of staff, chair of the department of surgery and director of the surgical residency program. Past DMU students recognized his passion for education by presenting him with the “One of the Most Outstanding Professors Award” and, in 1978, dedicating their class yearbook to him.

During his time in Des Moines, Dr. Rose published more than 20 scientific papers, won several grand prizes for scientific exhibits at the Annual Clinical Assembly of Osteopathic Surgeons, and presented more than 100 lectures and papers at state and national meetings. He produced more than 250 hours of continuing medical education approved by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), served on the Iowa State Board of Medical Examiners, was president of the Iowa Osteopathic Medical Association and was founder and editor of the association’s Hawkeye Osteopathic Journal.

A proud and loyal DMU alumnus, Dr. Rose served as grand marshal at DMU’s 2018 Commencement. In 2019, he joined the University’s Legacy Society with a gift designated in his will to create a scholarship for third- and fourth-year DMU osteopathic medical students, with preference given to students accomplished and interested in surgery. The Legacy Society honors donors and their spouses who make planned gifts or bequests to the University.

Working to enhance health care quality and access for all

Dr. Rose is committed to health care quality and access, and not only in osteopathic medicine. After he moved to Florida, Miami Dade College and the state of Florida approached him about starting a physician assistant program for minority and English-second language students. He accepted the challenge and developed an accredited program that has consistently graduated classes with a majority of minority and English-second language students. Miami Dade College recognized and honored this accomplishment by establishing the Norman Rose, D.O., PA Scholarship Fund.

In service to the AOA, which Dr. Rose joined in 1967, he conducted surgical residency inspections, reviewed articles for the Journal of the AOA, provided book reviews and served as an inspector for the AOA Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation.

His service in the ACOS, which he joined in 1975, also has been extensive. He served on the College’s Board of Governors for 10 years, including as secretary-treasurer and president. During his ACOS presidency, his active pursuit of AOA recognition of the unique membership of the specialty colleges led to ACOS representatives becoming voting members of the AOA House of Delegates. He also was instrumental in establishing the Student Osteopathic Surgical Association (SOSA); DMU was one of the first institutions to establish a chapter. While serving as chair of the College’s Membership Committee, he developed and obtained board approval of the point system used for bestowing the ACOS Fellow designation. In addition, he was the first chair of the ACOS Website Committee and served in that position for 10 years.

An honored osteopathic leader

Named a “Guardian of the Profession” by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), Dr. Rose is a Fellow of the International College of Surgeons and the first person to be named an ACOS Distinguished Fellow. That designation was granted in recognition of his sustained involvement, dedication and contribution to the College and the osteopathic community as “the very best of the profession.”

In 2019 he received the Guy D. Beaumont Jr. FACOS Award of Academic Excellence, which is bestowed upon an individual who has demonstrated outstanding organizational leadership and excellence in improving the quality of osteopathic surgical education in AOA/ACOS-accredited surgical training programs and/or in continuing medical education.

He received the Orel F. Martin Medal, ACOS’s highest honor, in 2015 as a symbol of his outstanding career as an osteopathic surgeon, educator and leader. In announcing the honor, ACOS stated that Dr. Rose’s “dedication to the education of future osteopathic physicians and health care providers has played a major role in his life and career and continues to this day.”

Dr. Rose also is a past recipient of the Iowa Osteopathic Medical Association’s Physician of the Year Award and the American Cancer Society Harold W. Morgan Outstanding Volunteer Award. His mentorship through the years has produced many outstanding leaders within the profession, including several deans, presidents of osteopathic medical colleges, chairs of many surgical departments as well as a past ACOS president. His residents have received many awards under his tutelage, including Outstanding Resident of the Year honors, resident achievement awards, first-place poster awards and several Robert C. Erwin Literary Awards.

“Dr. Rose has literally touched and improved all aspects of health care in service to his patients, the education and training he’s provided to countless medical students and his leadership in health care education and professional medical organizations,” says President Franklin. “For all his important contributions, continued service and lasting impact, Des Moines University is incredibly proud to name him a Pioneer of Osteopathic Medicine.”

Leave a note for Dr. Rose

Please read(Required)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

I was the assistant to Dr Mariano’s in the anatomy lab where I first saw Norman who was a brilliant student. I am in charge of annual meeting of Florida Alumni in Boca Raton We will meet at Burton’s Bar & Grill where we will celebrate Norman's achievements. Congratulations to the best of the best! We are proud of your achievements and your willingness to help students learn.

Looking forward to seeing you the last Saturday of January, the 28th, 2023.


Ralph Levy, DO

To an awesome surgical mentor and savior to my grandmother; you were an inspiration to all you taught; a very caring physician to your patients. Wish we had more of you.

Thank you
Dr. Karen Spahr


Karen Spahr

Awesome recognition for your dedication to the osteopathic profession and Des Moines University. Your endurance and leadership has been well appreciated with the overall effect to the patient population we all serve beyond calculation. You are an inspiration for all physicians. Congratulations!


Robert Good

Dr. Rose-Congratulations on this outstanding lifetime accomplishment. There are only 6 individuals in the past that DMU has awarded the Pioneer in Osteopathic Medicine to and you are the 7th. It is always one of my favorite stories on a tour to tell about each of our Pioneers when I am showing anyone our campus. I look forward to sharing your story and why you are so outstanding in the field of osteopathy. Congratulations to you, Dr. Rose, and thank you for all of your contributions.


Sue Huppert

Scroll to Top