What is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)?
Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, Founder of Osteopathic Medicine
The philosophy of osteopathic medicine originated from the teachings of Virginian Andrew Taylor Still more than 100 years ago and is based on the belief that, given the optimum conditions, the human body has the amazing ability to heal, that the structure of the human body is directly related to the function, and that the health of the individual is related to the body, mind, and spirit.
What is Osteopathic Medicine?
DOs are one of the only two groups of physicians who are licensed and qualified for the unlimited practice of medicine and surgery in all 50 states. Doctors of osteopathic medicine, like their colleagues, MDs, or doctors of allopathic medicine, provide professional services to advance the health and well being of patients across this country and around the world.
Osteopathic physicians complete four years of medical school and three to seven years of resident training before entering practice. The practice of osteopathic medicine and the practice of individual osteopathic physicians is as diverse as the wide spectrum of professionals who chose the profession. D.O.’s practice as specialists in all medical disciplines, in educational institutions, in research facilities and public health institutions. Osteopathic physicians provide health care services in hospitals and clinics across the nation, utilizing the spectrum and all of the tools of modern medicine. In addition, osteopathic physicians believe that secondary to their training and philosophy, they provide additional benefits for their patients.
DOs place an emphasis on wellness and preventive medicine. Their training and philosophy also teaches them to place an emphasis on the interrelationship of structure and function. By utilizing a patient center style of practice, DOs work with their patients to foster healthy lifestyles that concentrate on preventing illness, not merely treating pathology. Utilizing Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT), DOs support and augment the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
Osteopathic medicine has a century-old tradition of caring for diverse groups of people, often in rural and underserved settings. It has a traditional emphasis on primary care, but the profession has grown and diversified at the same time the science and practice of medicine has grown to the point that today it is a scientifically based, outcome directed profession. The profession honors its history and heritage by maintaining emphasis on the total patient, on serving those in need, on the relationship between structure and function and by avoiding concentration on the disease rather than the patient.
What DOs Bring to Medicine
- The osteopathic profession prepares students to practice in all disciplines of medicine, with an emphasis on primary care and community-based medicine.
- DOs practice a “patient-centered” approach, which recognizes that the physician must address the patient’s sociological and psychological universe in order to improve the quality and duration of their life.
- Osteopathic physicians concentrate on disease prevention and health promotion, believing that this approach is the basic path to wellness for their patients.
- DOs receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system–your body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones that make up two-thirds of your body mass. This training provides osteopathic physicians with a better understanding of the way that an illness or injury in one part of your body can affect another.
- Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is incorporated into the training and practice of osteopathic physicians. With OMT, osteopathic physicians use their hands to diagnose illne ss and injury and to encourage your body’s natural tendency toward good health. By combining all other available medical options with OMT, DOs offer their patients the most comprehensive care available in medicine today.
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM)
American Osteopathic Association (AOA)
Colorado Society of Osteopathic Medicine (CSOM)