Osteopathic Medicine

os·teo·path·ic  med·i·cine: 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 through a system of therapy known as osteopathic manipulative medicine.

Education for Osteopathic Physicians includes:

  • Bachelor’s degree (4 years)
  • Medical School (4 years) – for most Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine or DO programs, the first two years are didactic and the 3rd/4th years are clinical rotations.
  • Internship (1 year) – Upon graduation, physicians may complete a one year traditional rotating internship if they would like to further explore various specialties
  • Residency program (3-7 years) – specialized training for a particular area of medicine (family, emergency, OB/GYN, internal, surgery etc.)
  • Fellowship (1-3 years) – formal, full-time training program that focuses on a particular area within the specialty. Fellowships are required for highly specialized fields like cardiology or endocrinology

Where do Osteopathic Physicians Work?

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine are fully licensed to practice in any clinical setting across the US. This includes private practice, hospitals, and clinics. This includes treating patients with counseling, medication, surgery and osteopathic manipulative treatment. Osteopathic physicians may also work in an academic setting (medical school), the military and serve as physicians for athletic teams.

What do they do there?

Osteopathic philosophy emphasizes treating the whole patient, considering mind, body, and spirit.  The objective of osteopathic manipulative medicine is to facilitate the body’s own healing mechanisms by removing restrictions, whether based in joints, muscles, circulation, or nerves. The goal is to optimize function of the whole person, a much broader objective than reducing pain or restrictions. Osteopathic manipulation is not limited to the vertebral column or the musculoskeletal system but, as fully licensed physicians, includes treatments for circulatory, nerve and visceral functions as part of caring for the whole person.

Licensure for Osteopathic Medicine Practice

Osteopathic physicians must pass all three levels of the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination or COMLEX-USA to become fully licensed physicians. Level I is taken after completion of the 2nd year of medical school and tests on basic sciences. Level II is taken during the 3rd or 4th year and consists of a cognitive evaluation and performance evaluation. Level III is taken after starting a residency program and covers the clinical disciplines of medicine.

Professional Associations

AOA – American Osteopathic Association
AACOM – American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
ACOFP – American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians