What is Osteopathic Medicine? Brief Overview:
Osteopathic medicine is one of the two mainstream methodologies of practicing medicine in the US. Physicians may choose to practice one of two types of medicine - allopathic, or osteopathic. A physician who graduates from an osteopathic medical school receives a D.O. degree, for Doctor of Osteopathic medicine, and a physician who graduates from an allopathic medical school receives an M.D.
Doctors of osteopathic medicine can perform surgery and prescribe medication as allopathic medical doctors can. Osteopathic physicians can specialize in any one of the hundreds of medical or surgical specialties or subspecialties.
Osteopathic medicine is not characterized as an alternative medicine. Osteopathic medicine is becoming increasingly common and more widely accepted as more osteopathic schools open, and more physicians practice as osteopaths.
Osteopathic Medicine by the Numbers:
According to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, about 55,000 licensed physicians currently practice osteopathy. Additionally, by 2010, osteopathic physicians will enter the workforce at a rate of about 4,000 per year.
Osteopathic Medicine vs. Allopathic Medicine:
The most significant difference in osteopathic medicine is that there is more emphasis on a holistic approach to medical care, treating the whole patient, not just isolating one system of the body. Additionally, a technique called osteopathic manipulation is unique to osteopathy. According to AACOM, osteopaths provide a “patient-centered, holistic, hands-on approach to diagnosing and treating illness and injury.”