Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

What is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine?

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) practice a unique form of medical care in the United States. Osteopathic medicine emphasizes helping each person achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health education, injury and disease prevention.

For a student’s view of osteopathic medicine, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine offers A Brief Guide to Osteopathic Medicine, For Students, By Students.

The Philosophy

Dr. Andrew Taylor Still developed Osteopathic Medicine in response to harmful medical practices during the 19th century. Dr. Still studied the process of disease and believed the body could heal itself through the use of preventive medicine, including eating properly and keeping fit.

Osteopathic Distinctions

  • DOs receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system which provides greater understanding of the ways injury or disease in one part of the body affects another.
  • DOs focus on preventive health care.
  • DOs practice a “whole person” approach to medicine to treat the person, not just the symptoms.
  • DOs integrate osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) into their practices. OMT encourages the use of the physician’s hands to diagnose injury and illness and to enable the body to fulfill its natural tendency toward good health.

Is DO the Choice for You?

DOs and MDs share similarities:

  • Both typically complete four years of medical education. There are also options for three year accelerated pathways.
  • Both are fully licensed to prescribe medication, perform surgery, and after training, practice in all other specialties.
  • Both must pass national licensing examinations.
  • Both practice in fully accredited and licensed healthcare institutions.

A Growing Profession

Osteopathic medicine continues to grow in the United States as patients choose the holistic philosophy. Today, DOs continue to be on the cutting edge of modern medicine.

There are currently 34 colleges of osteopathic medicine, offering instruction at 49 locations in 32states. Enrollment is highly competitive and LECOM recommends that prior to applying, candidates should spend time with an osteopathic physician to learn more about the profession.