Osteopathic physicians (Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine or D.O.s) diagnose illness and injury, prescribe and administer treatment, and advise patients about how to prevent and manage disease. Like their M.D. counterparts, they are fully licensed to diagnose, treat, prescribe medications, and perform surgery in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Today, more than 20 percent of all U.S. medical students are studying at a college of osteopathic medicine.
In addition to using all of the tools and technology available to modern medicine, D.O.s have a strongly holistic philosophy and practice osteopathic manipulative medicine – a distinctive system of hands-on diagnosis and treatment which focuses specifically on the musculoskeletal system.
Osteopathic manipulative medicine is an outgrowth of two basic concepts that undergird the osteopathic approach to health:
- Structure influences function, which means that if there is an imbalance, injury or other problem in one part of the body’s structure, it will affect function in that area – and sometimes elsewhere in the body, as well.
- The body has an innate capacity for self-healing. Thus, the object of osteopathic manipulation is to eliminate or reduce impediments to proper structure and function, in order to promote the body’s own self-healing mechanisms.
The majority of D.O.s practice general or family medicine, general internal medicine, or general pediatrics with a special focus on providing care in rural and urban underserved areas. Other osteopathic physicians choose to specialize in a wide range of practice areas, including emergency medicine, anesthesiology, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and surgery. All D.O.s receive a strong educational grounding in primary care, building a foundation which many believe makes them better physicians, regardless of specialty. (source: Explore Health Careers)
Learning More About Osteopathic Medicine
For more information on the practice of osteopathic medicine or osteopathic education refer to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) websites, and the AACOM Facebook Page. Specific pages of interest may be:
- Doctors that DO
- AACOMAS Student Stories
- AACOM Colleges Listed by State
- A Brief Guide to the Practice of Osteopathic Medicine; Written by students, for students!
Osteopathic medical applicants are required to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). For information about the MCAT exam, please visit the MCAT website and the PreHealth Program Preparing for the MCAT page.