Osteopathic medicine provides all of the benefits of modern medicine including prescription drugs, surgery, and the use of technology to diagnose disease and evaluate injury. It also offers the added benefit of hands-on diagnosis and treatment. It is a system of medical care that promotes the body’s innate ability to heal itself.
Osteopathic medicine was founded in the late 1800s in Kirksville, Missouri, by a medical doctor who recognized that the medical practices of the day often caused more harm than good. He focused on developing a system of medical care that would promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself and called this system of medicine osteopathy, now known as osteopathic medicine.
Osteopathic physicians, also known as DOs, work in partnership with their patients. They consider the impact that lifestyle and community have on the health of each individual, and they work to break down barriers to good health. DOs are licensed to practice the full scope of medicine in all 50 states. They practice in all types of environments, including the military, and in all types of specialties, from family medicine to obstetrics, surgery, and aerospace medicine.
DOs are trained to look at the whole person from their first days of medical school, which means they see each person as more than just a collection of organ systems and body parts that may become injured or diseased. This holistic approach to patient care means that osteopathic medical students learn how to integrate the patient into the healthcare process as a partner. They are trained to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds, and they get the opportunity to practice these skills in their classrooms and learning laboratories, frequently with standardized and simulated patients.
The osteopathic medical profession has a proud heritage of producing primary care practitioners. In fact, the mission statements of the majority of osteopathic medical schools state plainly that their purpose is the production of primary care physicians. Osteopathic medical tradition preaches that a strong foundation in primary care makes one a better physician, regardless of what specialty they may eventually practice.
Osteopathic medicine is also rapidly growing. Nearly one in five medical students in the United States is attending an osteopathic medical school. In addition to studying all of the typical 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 techniques helps alleviate pain, restores motion, supports the body’s natural functions and influences the body’s structure to help it function more efficiently.
One key concept osteopathic medical students learn is that structure influences function. Thus, if there is a problem in one part of the body’s structure, function in that area, and possibly in other areas, may be affected. Another integral tenet of osteopathic medicine is the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Many of osteopathic medicine’s manipulative techniques are aimed at reducing or eliminating the impediments to proper structure and function so the self-healing mechanism can assume its role in restoring a person to health.
For more information visit the American Osteopathic Association at https://www.osteopathic.org