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What is Osteopathic Medicine?

Osteopathic medicine in the U.S. got its start in the late 1800s. Founded by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, who established the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri in 1892, osteopathic medicine is governed by two regulatory bodies: the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the American Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM). There are currently nineteen, mostly private, colleges of osteopathic medicine; when you graduate, one receives the D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degree.

Osteopathy's History

Until fairly recently, osteopathy's insistence on preventive care, communication with the patient, and a holistic approach to health were considered radical. Now, much of what osteopathy has always espoused is rapidly becoming part of all medical training. The major difference today between osteopathic (D.O.) and allopathic training (M.D.) is that osteopaths are taught an additional modality of treatment called manipulation (not to be confused with chiropractic manipulation, which has an entirely different system of education and is not recognized as a fully licensed medical degree). Osteopathic Physicians are fully recognized medical degree’s.

The osteopathic philosophy position is that there is a unity between a living organism's anatomy and physiology. Osteopathic science includes "the behavioral, chemical, physical, spiritual, and biological knowledge related to the establishment and maintenance of health as well as the prevention and alleviation of disease.

Osteopathic concepts emphasize the following principles:

• The human being is a dynamic unit of function.
• The body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms that are self-healing in nature.
• Structure and function are interrelated at all levels.
• Rational treatment is based on these principles.
• What is Allopathic Medicine?
• Allopathic training, which confers the M.D., is by far the most widely available and most recognized type of medical training.

Like D.O. schools (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), allopathic programs make you focus your first two years on the basic sciences needed to practice medicine. In recent years, though, med schools have experimented with different ways of going through the material, resulting in programs that may teach systems- or case-based science in small, independently directed study groups, rather than separate disciplines delivered in a lecture hall.

Most schools are making a concerted effort to get students together with patients much earlier, too. In the past, med students didn't come in contact with any actual sick people until they'd already been through two years of school.

The last two years of medical school are mainly spent doing clinical rotations. Even if you're sure that your life's calling is plastic surgery, you'll have to do your pediatrics rotation. Most medical students really enjoy having a chance to delve into the various specialties, although you are usually rotated out of an area a few minutes after you learn enough to be useful.