Today, osteopathy has been broadened to osteopathic medicine in the United States, distinguishing it as one of two systems of medical care whereby osteopathic physicians, or DO’s, receive complete medical training and have an unlimited scope of practice.
The practice of osteopathic medicine is guided by a holistic philosophy that includes osteopathic manipulative techniques to help achieve balance of the mind, body and spirit. Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO (1828-1917), founded the American School of Osteopathy, in 1892, having discovered a new form of medical care that he named osteopathy.
The philosophy of osteopathy is expansive and holistic, focused on the patient, with specific attention to the cause of a disease and use of manipulative techniques as a possible treatment.
The following tenets are guides for providing osteopathic patient care:1
- A person is the product of dynamic interaction between body, mind, and spirit.
- An inherent property of this dynamic interaction is the capacity of the individual for the maintenance of health and recovery from disease.
- Many forces, both intrinsic and extrinsic to the person, can challenge this inherent capacity and contribute to the onset of illness.
- The musculoskeletal system significantly influences the individual’s ability to restore this inherent capacity and therefore to resist disease processes.
1Rogers, Felix J. "Advancing a traditional view of osteopathic medicine through clinical practice." Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 105.5 (2005): 255.
Much of the training for osteopathic physicians occurs in community-based hospitals and clinics. This creates the opportunity for DO’s to be well equipped for careers in any specialty, but particularly primary care.
Because of the holistic approach to medicine, 56% of all DOs choose to practice in the primary care disciplines of family practice, general internal medicine and pediatrics.
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine also gravitate toward the basic health care specialties of psychiatry, OB-Gynecology and general surgery.
With a guiding philosophy, medical knowledge, and the ability to perform manipulative techniques, osteopathic physicians are equipped to assist their patients in their journey towards optimal health.