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Osteopathic Medicine

What is osteopathic medicine?

Osteopathic medicine is a distinct form of medical practice that originated in the United States. Osteopathic medicine provides all of the benefits of modern medicine including prescription drugs, surgery, and the use of technology to diagnose disease and evaluate injury. It also offers the added benefit of hands-on diagnosis and treatment through a system of manipulative therapy known as Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) and additional training in disease prevention and health promotion with their patients.


What are osteopathic physicians?

Osteopathic physicians, also known as Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), work in partnership with their patients. They consider the impact that lifestyle and community have on the health of each individual, and they work to break down barriers to good health. It is important to note that DOs are licensed to practice the full scope of medicine in all 50 states. They practice in all types of environments, including hospitals, private practice, the military, and in all specialties and sub-specialties (ie. from family medicine, obstetrics, surgery, to anesthesia). Osteopathic medicine is also rapidly growing! Nearly one in four medical students in the United States is attending an osteopathic medical school.


Today, both the US and Canada are facing a shortage of primary care physicians, and this is expected to worsen in the future. The osteopathic medical profession has a proud heritage of producing primary care practitioners. In fact, the mission statements of the majority of osteopathic medical schools state that their purpose is the production of primary care physicians, and this can be reflected by the number of DO graduates who enter residency in a primary care specialty. Regardless of a physician's specialty, the osteopathic medical profession believes that a strong foundation in primary care makes one a better physician. Today, both the US and Canada are facing a shortage of primary care physicians, and this is expected to worsen in the future. While DOs constitute 7 percent of all U.S. physicians, they are responsible for 16 percent of patient visits in communities with populations of fewer than 2,500. 

Additional information regarding DOs and osteopathic medicine can be found at:

HERE is a great paper published in the Canadian Medical Education Journal (CMEJ) by members of COMSA regarding osteopathic medical education for Canadian students.

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