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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?

Doctors of 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. DOs, like their colleagues, MDs, or doctors of allopathic medicine, provide professional services to advance the health and wellbeing 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. DOs practice as specialists in all medical disciplines, in educational institutions, in research facilities, and public health institutions. They provide health care services in hospitals and clinics across the nation, utilizing the spectrum and all of the tools of modern medicine.

DOs place an emphasis on wellness and preventive medicine. Their training and philosophy also teach 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. The profession honors its history and heritage by maintaining an 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 illness 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.

Outside Resources

American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM)

American Osteopathic Association (AOA)

Colorado Society of Osteopathic Medicine (CSOM)

Utah Osteopathic Medical Association (UOMA)


Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) are qualified to practice in all medical specialties, just like their MD counterparts.
Here are some of the primary specialties and subspecialties DOs pursue:

Primary Care Specialties

  • Family Medicine: Providing comprehensive care for individuals and families across all ages, genders, and diseases.
  • Internal Medicine: Focusing on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of adult diseases.
  • Pediatrics: Specializing in the medical care of infants, children, and adolescents.
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN): Concentrating on women's health, including pregnancy, childbirth, and reproductive system disorders.

Surgical Specialties

  • General Surgery: Performing a wide range of surgical procedures, often involving the abdominal organs.
  • Orthopedic Surgery: Focusing on the musculoskeletal system, including bones, joints, and muscles.
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery: Specializing in surgical treatment of diseases affecting the heart, lungs, and other thoracic organs.
  • Neurosurgery: Dealing with surgical interventions of the brain, spinal cord, and nervous system.

Medical Specialties

  • Cardiology: Specializing in heart and blood vessel disorders.
  • Gastroenterology: Focusing on the digestive system and its disorders.
  • Endocrinology: Concentrating on hormonal imbalances and diseases.
  • Pulmonology: Treating diseases of the respiratory system.

Other Specialties

  • Emergency Medicine: Providing immediate medical attention for acute illnesses and injuries.
  • Anesthesiology: Specializing in pain relief and the care of patients before, during, and after surgery.
  • Dermatology: Focusing on skin conditions and diseases.
  • Neurology: Dealing with disorders of the nervous system.
  • Psychiatry: Concentrating on mental health and psychological disorders.
  • Radiology: Specializing in imaging techniques to diagnose and treat diseases.
  • Ophthalmology: Focusing on eye and vision care.
  • Otolaryngology (ENT): Treating conditions of the ear, nose, and throat.
  • Urology: Concentrating on the urinary system and male reproductive organs.
  • Rheumatology: Treating autoimmune diseases and musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Oncology: Specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.


Within these broad specialties, DOs can further specialize in fields such as:

  • Interventional Cardiology
  • Pediatric Endocrinology
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Sports Medicine
  • Pain Medicine
  • Critical Care Medicine

DOs bring their unique holistic approach to all these specialties, integrating osteopathic principles and OMT where appropriate to enhance patient care.


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