Required Participation in Osteopathic Principles & Practicies

Participation In Osteopathic Principles And Practices Laboratories: A requirement for admissions consideration and graduation

One important distinction between the training in osteopathic and non-osteopathic medical schools is the time spent developing the palpatory skills used for diagnosis and treatment. Osteopathic physicians understand that palpation means examination with the hands and fingers, touching, feeling or perceiving by the sense of touch. In other words, palpation is the use of touch to examine the body.

Palpatory skills are used in all areas of medical practice and are especially important in the evaluation and treatment of the musculoskeletal system. Development of palpatory skills takes place in the first and second year osteopathic principles and practice (OPP) courses. This requires active participation in all laboratory sessions. During the two years, each student will palpate a variety of people, representing both genders and different body types. This simulates the variety of patients seen in practice. Equally important is the experience of being palpated by other students. The experience of being palpated helps student to understand how palpation feels from the patient's perspective. It also enables students to give important feedback to his or her partners to help develop palpatory skills.

Besides developing palpatory skills, each student will learn the art and skill of manipulative treatment. Again, active participation is required. Each student will treat and be treated by a variety of students of both genders and different body types over the two years. Only by treating a variety of people will the student be prepared to treat the variety of patients seen in practice. The osteopathic profession uses a variety of treatment models, and each student is required to actively participate in skills development with each model. This involves both treating and being treated.

Rarely does a student have a specific physical problem that may contraindicate a specific type of manipulation in a specific location. Any student with a physical problem that contraindicates manipulation is required to contact the head of the OPP department before the beginning of the course and present documentation of the problem. The student will be examined by a member of the department during the first week of school. If the problem is confirmed by the examination and review of the documentation, special arrangements will be made concerning the specific problem. Active participation will be required in all laboratory sessions not effected by the problem.

Another important aspect of training is proper dress. To develop the palpatory skills needed to diagnose and treat problems of the musculoskeletal system, it is important to maximize the ability to evaluate tissue texture exchanges, bony and soft tissue landmarks, tenderness and range of motion. Required dress for men while being palpated is a pair of sports shorts with an elastic waistband. Required dress for women while being palpated is a sports bra and a pair of sports shorts with an elastic waist band. A T-shirt or sweatshirt should be worn when not being palpated.

Practice is necessary for the development of psychomotor skills. Reading and observation, although helpful, cannot develop the skills required to do palpatory diagnosis and manipulative treatment. The diversity of the individuals in each class provides a cross section of different gender and body types seen in practice. Another benefit of working with a variety of people is the development of psychosocial skills required for effective doctor-patient communication


The Admissions Committee will evaluate candidates according to the Health and Technical Standards and Participation in Osteopathic Principles and Practices Laboratories through review of records, written statements and interviews. Candidates will be provided a copy of both standards as part of the admission materials. Accepted students will be required to sign a statement acknowledging receipt of the standards. Admitted students who have falsified records or made false written or oral statements during the admission process shall be subject to expulsion from the college.