Osteopathic Medicine is a distinctive kind of medicine
Osteopathic medicine is a unique path to medical practice in the United States. Osteopathic medicine offers all of the benefits of modern medicine including prescription medications, surgery, as well as the use of technology to diagnose illness and evaluate injury. It also offers the added benefit of hands-on diagnosis and treatment through a system of treatment referred to as osteopathic manipulative medicine. Osteopathic medicine focuses on helping each individual achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health promotion and disease prevention.
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, are completely licensed physicians who practice in all areas of medicine. Emphasizing a whole-person approach to treatment and care, DOs are taught to listen and partner with their patients to help them get healthy and remain well.
What does it mean to be an osteopathic doctor?
When you believe in taking care of people-- not patients-- decisions are easier. When you strive 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 healthcare. When you Choose DO, you know you've found the best 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 receive the same medical training as other doctors, along with 200 more hours of OMM training. OMM is a hands-on treatment used to diagnose and treat illness and injury.
OMM has been shown to be effective in treating a range of injuries and illnesses. For example, the use of OMM in treating patients with pneumonia has been found to shorten the length of hospital visits and complications related to pneumonia.
DOs are taught to focus on the entire person, working with patients to achieve high levels of wellness and disease prevention.
DOs operate in partnership with their patients and are trained to look at the whole person.
They take into consideration the impact that lifestyle and community have on the health of each individual, and they work to erase obstacles 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 trained to consider the whole person from their first days of medical school, which means they see each individual as more than just a collection of organ systems and body parts that may get injured or diseased. This holistic approach to patient care means that osteopathic medical students learn how to incorporate the patient into the healthcare process as a partner. They are trained to interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds, and they are given the chance to practice 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 complies with 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.
Strong Foundation in Primary Care
The osteopathic medical profession has a proud heritage of generating primary care practitioners. In fact, the mission statements of the majority of osteopathic medical schools state simply that their function is the creation of primary care doctors. Osteopathic medical tradition teaches that a strong foundation in primary care makes one a better physician, regardless of what specialty they may ultimately practice.
Due to their whole-person approach to medicine, 57 percent of all DOs choose 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 background of serving rural and underserved areas, commonly offering their unique brand of compassionate, patient-centered care to some of the most economically disadvantaged members of our society.
In addition to studying all of the typical topics you would expect student doctors to master, osteopathic medical students take approximately 200 extra hours of training in the art of osteopathic manipulative medicine. This system of hands-on techniques helps minimize pain, restores motion, sustains 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 minimizing or eliminating the impediments to proper structure and function so the self-healing mechanism can presume its duty in restoring a person to health.
In addition to a strong background of providing high-quality patient care, DOs conduct clinical and fundamental science research to help advance the frontiers of medicine and to show the effectiveness of the osteopathic approach to patient care. Currently, several organizations are associated with osteopathic clinical research in coordination with the Osteopathic Research Center. Founded 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 acts as a catalyst for creating and conducting multi-center, collaborative clinical research studies. Initial research studies have focused on showing the effectiveness of OMM as it applies to numerous facets of patient care.