Here's some tidbits about osteopathic medicine from the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine website (aacom.org). Some of you know what the D.O. degree is all about, but this is some good information. The D.O. and M.D. degrees are equivalent (meaning a D.O. can practice the full scope of medicine that an M.D. does), although there are often some differences in the approach they may take with patients. I've been getting a lot of questions lately on the difference between the two degrees. Anyway...it's an interesting read.
"Osteopathic physicians, also known as D.O.s, 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 erase barriers to good health. D.O.s are licensed to practice the full scope of medicine in all 50 states. They practice in all types of environments including the military, and in all types of specialties from family medicine to obstetrics, surgery, and aerospace medicine.
D.O.s are trained to look at the whole person from their first days of medical school, which means they see each person as more than just a collection of body parts that may become injured or diseased. This holistic approach to patient care means that osteopathic medical students learn how to integrate the patient into the health care process as a partner. They are trained to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds, and they get the opportunity to practice these skills in the classroom with simulated patients.
Because of this whole-person approach to medicine, approximately 60 percent of all D.O.s choose to practice in the primary care disciplines of family practice, general internal medicine and pediatrics. Approximately 40 percent of all D.O.s go on to specialize in a wide range of practice areas. If the medical specialty exists, you will find D.O.s there.
While America’s 47,000 D.O.s account for only 5 percent of the country’s physicians, they handle approximately 10 percent of all primary care visits. D.O.s also 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.
In addition to studying all of the typical subjects you would expect student physicians to master, osteopathic medical students take approximately 200 additional hours of training in the art of osteopathic manipulative medicine. This system of hands-on techniques helps alleviate pain, restores motion, supports the body’s natural functions and influence the body’s structure to help it function more efficiently.
One key concept osteopathic medical students learn is that structure influences function. Thus, if there is a problem in one part of the body’s structure, function in that area, and possibly in other areas, may be affected. For example, restriction of motion in the lower ribs, lumbar spine and abdomen can cause stomach pain with symptoms that mimic irritable bowel syndrome. By using osteopathic manipulative medicine techniques, D.O.s can help restore motion to these areas of the body thus improving gastrointestinal function, oftentimes restoring it to normal.
Another integral tenet of osteopathic medicine is the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Many of osteopathic medicine’s manipulative techniques are aimed at reducing or eliminating the impediments to proper structure and function so the self-healing mechanism can assume its role in restoring the person to health.
In addition to a strong history of providing high quality patient care, D.O.s conduct clinical and basic science research to help advance the frontiers of medicine and to demonstrate the effectiveness of the osteopathic approach to patient care. Currently, several organizations are involved in osteopathic clinical research in coordination with the national oteopathic research center. The facility’s staff develops, facilitates, and conducts multi-center, collaborative clinical research studies."
If you have other questions about it, let me know!