School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona
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SOMA

Programs

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)

Graduates will receive a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree.

D.O.s are complete physicians who are fully trained and licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery. D.O.s and allopathic physicians (M.D.s) are the only two types of complete physicians.

Osteopathic medicine embraces a whole person philosophy, considering the body as a unit of interrelated systems that work together to ensure good health. In addition to prescribing medication and performing surgery, osteopathic physicians are trained to use osteopathic manipulative medicine as an additional tool in diagnosing and treating patients.

Osteopathic physicians focus on the musculoskeletal system. This interconnected system of nerves, muscles, and bones makes up about two-thirds of the body's structure and plays a critical role in its ability to function. D.O.s are trained to identify structural problems and to facilitate the body's natural tendency toward health and self-healing.

D.O.s practice in all branches of medicine and surgery, from psychiatry to emergency medicine. However, D.O.s are trained to be primary care physicians first and specialists second. The majority (about 60 percent) of D.O. graduates become primary care physicians who practice in small towns and rural areas, often taking care of entire families and whole communities.

Osteopathic Roots

Osteopathic medicine is a unique form of American medical care that was developed in 1874 by Andrew Taylor Still, M.D. Dissatisfied with the effectiveness of 19th-century medicine, Dr. Still believed that many of the medications of his day were ineffective or even harmful. In response, he was one of the first in his time to study the attributes of good health in order to achieve a better understanding of the process of disease.

Dr. Still founded a philosophy of medicine based on ideas that date back to Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine. The philosophy focuses on the unity of all body parts and identifies the musculoskeletal system as a key element of health. Dr. Still recognized the body's ability to heal itself and stressed preventive medicine, eating properly, and keeping fit.

Dr. Still pioneered this concept of wellness more than100 years ago. In today's terms, personal health risks, such as smoking, high blood pressure, excessive cholesterol levels, and stress, are evaluated for each individual. In coordination with appropriate medical treatment, the osteopathic physician acts as a teacher to help patients take more responsibility for their own well-being and change unhealthy patterns.