What is Osteopathic Medicine
Osteopathic medicine is a distinct path to medical practice in the United States. Osteopathic medicine offers all of the benefits of modern medicine including prescription medications, surgery, and the use of technology to diagnose disease and assess injury. It also offers the added benefit of hands-on diagnosis and treatment through a system of treatment known as osteopathic manipulative medicine. Osteopathic medicine focuses on helping everyone attain a high level of wellness by focusing on health promotion and disease prevention.
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, are totally licensed physicians who work in all areas of medicine. Emphasizing a whole-person approach to treatment and care, DOs are trained to listen and partner with their patients to help them get healthy and remain well.
What does it mean to be an osteopathic physician?
When you believe in taking care of people-- not patients-- decisions are easier. When you aim to take everything into account-- mind, body, and spirit-- you know you're doing it right. When you believe that wellness requires a whole-body approach and prevention makes all the difference, you're ready for the future of health care. When you Select DO, you know you've discovered the right path.
What does a DO do?
Throughout the nation, DOs practice the full scope of medicine in all specialties of the medical field, from pediatrics and geriatrics to sports medicine and trauma surgery
DOs have the same medical training as other physicians, as well as 200 additional hours of OMM training. OMM is a hands-on treatment used to diagnose and treat illness and injury.
OMM has been proven to be successful in treating a range of injuries and illnesses. For instance, the use of OMM in treating patients with pneumonia has been found to shorten the length of hospital stays and complications related to pneumonia.
DOs are taught to focus on the whole individual, working with patients to achieve high levels of wellness and disease prevention. DOs work in collaboration with their patients and are trained to look at the whole person.
They consider the impact that lifestyle and community have on the health of each person, and they work to erase barriers to good health. DOs are licensed to practice the full scope of medicine in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other territories of the United States, as well as in more than 65 countries abroad.1 They practice in all kinds of environments, including the military, and in all specialties, from family medicine and obstetrics to surgery and cardiology.
DOs are taught to look at the whole person from their first days of medical school, which means they see each individual as more than simply a collection of organ systems and body parts that might become injured or diseased. This holistic approach to patient care means that osteopathic medical students learn how to incorporate the individual into the healthcare process as a partner. They are taught to communicate with people from different backgrounds, and they are provided the opportunity to exercise these skills in the classroom and a number of other settings.
Tenets of Osteopathic Medicine
The American Osteopathic Association's House of Delegates approved the "Tenets of Osteopathic Medicine" as policy which follows the underlying philosophy of osteopathic medicine. The tenets are:
- The body is a unit; the individual is a unit of body, mind, and spirit.
- The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance.
- Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.
Solid Foundation in Primary Care
The osteopathic medical profession has a proud heritage of generating primary care practitioners. As a matter of fact, the mission statements of the majority of osteopathic medical schools state simply that their purpose is the creation of primary care physicians. Osteopathic medical tradition teaches that a solid foundation in primary care makes one a greater physician, regardless of what specialty they might eventually practice.
Due to their whole-person approach to medicine, 57 percent of all DOs decide to practice in the primary care disciplines of family practice, general internal medicine, and pediatrics. The remaining 43 percent go on to specialize in any number of practice areas. DOs boast a strong history of serving rural and underserved areas, commonly providing their unique brand of compassionate, patient-centered care to some of the most economically disadvantaged members of our society.
Along with studying all of the normal subjects you would expect student physicians to master, osteopathic medical students take approximately 200 additional hours of training in the art of osteopathic manipulative medicine. This system of hands-on procedures helps relieve pain, restores motion, supports the body's natural functions and influences the body's framework to help it function more efficiently.
One vital concept osteopathic medical students learn is that structure affects function. Thus, if there is a problem in one part of the body's structure, function in that area, and perhaps in other areas, may be affected.
Another integral tenet of osteopathic medicine is the body's natural ability to heal itself. A number of osteopathic medicine's manipulative techniques are aimed at reducing or eliminating the obstacles to proper structure and function so the self-healing mechanism can assume its function in restoring an individual to health.
In addition to a strong background of providing high-quality patient care, DOs conduct clinical and basic science research to help advance the frontiers of medicine and to show the effectiveness of the osteopathic approach to patient care. Presently, several organizations are associated with osteopathic clinical research in coordination with the Osteopathic Research Center. Established in 2002, the Osteopathic Research Center (ORC) in Fort Worth, TX conducts and promotes research on the pathophysiological mechanism and clinical results of OMM. The facility works as a catalyst for developing and conducting multi-center, collaborative clinical research studies. Initial studies have focused on demonstrating the effectiveness of OMM as it applies to numerous facets of patient care.