What is osteopathic medicine?
Osteopathic medicine is a unique form of American medical care that was developed in 1874 by Andrew Taylor Still, M.D., D.O. Dissatisfied with 19th century healthcare, Dr. Still founded a philosophy of medicine based on ideas that date back to Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, and which focuses on the unity of the body. Dr. Still pioneered the concept of wellness and identified the musculoskeletal system as a key element of health.
Osteopathic physicians take a whole person approach to caring for patients. Instead of treating specific symptoms or illnesses, they regard the body as an integrated whole.
Today, osteopathic physicians are one of the fastest growing segments of healthcare providers and are on the cutting-edge of modern medicine, able to combine technology with compassion and their ability to treat patients as a whole.
- Kirksville, Mo., is known as the home of osteopathic medicine.
- D.O.s must complete the same amount of schooling and meet the same licensing requirements as M.D.s, with approximately 200 additional hours of training in osteopathic manipulative medicine. The majority of D.O.s specialize in primary care.
- Osteopathic physicians can choose any specialty, prescribe drugs, perform surgeries, and practice medicine anywhere in the United States.
- The American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) currently accredits 25 colleges of osteopathic medicine in 28 locations.
- There are approximately 67,000 D.O.s practicing in the United States, handling more than nine percent of all office visits in rural areas and seven percent in urban areas. D.O.s have a strong history of serving rural and underserved areas, often providing their unique brand of compassionate, patient-centered care to some of the most economically disadvantaged members of society.
Osteopathic medicine in practice
- In 1897, Dr. Still’s students organized to form the American Association for the Advancement of Osteopathy (AAAO), or the American Osteopathic Association as it is known today.
- The U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare recognized the AOA as the accrediting body for osteopathic medical education in 1952. In 1967, the AOA was recognized by the National Commission on Accrediting (now the Council for Higher Education Accreditation) as the accrediting agency for all facets of osteopathic medical education in the United States.
- Federal recognition had a profound effect on osteopathic medicine, spurring a second generation of schools and a dramatic increase in the number of osteopathic physicians. The big shift came in the move to state-supported schools, starting with Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in East Lansing, which graduated its first class in 1973.
- Osteopathic medicine has helped many important historical figures, including John D. Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger, and former presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy.
- Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) has been used to treat a variety of problems such as ear infections, sinus problems, colic in infants, and many adult maladies. It has had a success rate high enough to convince many M.D.s to take classes in OMM.