Schools in the USA
Back to Career Search     



Is your doctor a MD or a DO? Did you know that there are two kinds of complete physicians, both fully qualified to perform surgery and prescribe medication? Is there any difference between these two kinds of doctors? The answer is both yes and no. Osteopaths treat disorders of the body by gently moving the spine, muscles, bones and joints. They help to relieve pain and improve the function of the body through techniques of manipulative therapy, medication or surgery.

MDs (allopathic physicians) focus on ridding the body of a specific disease or condition itself, going on the assumption that the disease is causing the patient's suffering. Osteopaths (Doctor of Osteopathy - DO) take a different approach, using the holistic philosophy that a person's body is an interrelated system, not just a collection of different systems. Therefore, each element in the body has an effect on everything else, including the health of the surrounding parts; and, since all these are together in one self-contained system, the whole body is affected by everything we do.

To find the cause of illness, osteopaths today use all of the recognized methods of medical investigation that we are familiar with, from lab tests to x-rays, to CAT scans. Yet the technique for which DOs are most recognized is osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT). OMT is a philosophy and technique that uses touch to repair, relieve or improve the body's functions, either by itself or as part of the overall treatment program. Touching strategic points on the body can give the doctor clues as to what's wrong with the patient. Manipulating body parts encourages the body's natural tendency toward good health. By combining all other medical procedures with OMT, osteopaths offer their patients the most comprehensive care available in medicine today.

Dr. Still is the pioneer of osteopathy and he coined the term "wellness" more than 125 years ago. Wellness consists of a number of internal and external factors, such as lifestyle choices, stress, happiness and other environmental factors. Like the naturopath, the osteopath acts as an educator to help patients take more responsibility for their own well-being and change unhealthy patterns.

The muscles, skeleton and circulation are fundamental to our health. They each work interconnectedly to keep the blood flourishing and our organs pumping. When an accident or infection overwhelms the normal balance of the body, or when one part of the body cannot function properly, the other parts will suffer. When this happens, osteopathic philosophy says that restoring the body's normal harmony in a holistic approach will relieve the ailment and restore the whole body back to health.
View Schools for this Career: 
         Related Careers
arrow Advanced Care Paramedic
arrow Anesthesiologists
arrow Animal Care Worker
arrow [ view all related careers ]

Program Spotlight
Matching School Ad
Walden University

Impact your world with a degree from Walden. Start today!

Programs Offered:
  • B.S. in Health Studies - Health Management
  • B.S. in Health Studies - Health Communication
  • B.S. in Health Studies - Self-Designed
  • And more...



  Interests and Skills  
Osteopaths must be knowledgeable in all areas of osteopathic medicine, which includes both conventional and manipulation theories. They need great communication skills to establish a rapport with patients and gain their trust and confidence. They need emotional strength, maturity and must truly believe in this type of medical practice. They enjoy gathering information by observing, interviewing and examining patients and providing holistic treatments.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Diagnose and treat diseases and injuries of human body, relying upon accepted medical and surgical modalities
  • Examine patients to determine symptoms attributable to impairments in musculoskeletal system
  • Correct disorders and afflictions of bones, muscles, nerves and other body systems by medical and surgical procedures and when deemed beneficial, manipulative therapy
  • Employ diagnostic images, drugs and other aids to diagnose and treat bodily impairments
  • Osteopaths generally work long days, about 60 hours per week. They may work rotating shifts or be on call. When on call, they can be called into the hospital at any time, day or night. Some also work evenings and weekends to accommodate patient's schedules. In a typical day, osteopaths see a succession of patients, and may spend a considerable amount of time driving to hospitals, clinics and/or patients' homes. This occupation can be both emotionally demanding and emotionally rewarding.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Most osteopaths work in private practice. Some are employed by regional health authorities. Those who do not choose private or group practice may be employed in medical research, public health, occupational medicine, health administration, overseas service, or military service. Some also work in professional sports or as Olympic team physicians.

  Long Term Career Potential  
As with other health professions, osteopathic practices take time to build and success depends on individual initiative, experience and ability. Therefore, many osteopaths remain in the business of medical and holistic healing. Some may become teachers at universities or work within communities promoting osteopathic medicine and wellness healing.

  Educational Paths  
Osteopaths start out with an undergraduate bachelor's degree in science or arts and then attend a four-year osteopathic medical school program, similar to allopathic medical schools. The osteopathic educational program includes 1,200 hours of mandatory training and 375 hours of optional class work over five years. Upon completion, DO (Doctor of Osteopathy) students have two years to submit a thesis to an international jury. DOs receive specific training of the musculoskeletal system, including the nerves, muscles and bones. A one-year medical residency is also required. Their training focuses more on holistic healing and understanding the ways that an injury or illness in one part of your body can affect other parts.

Featured Schools

Matching School Ads
Stratford Career Institute  Online
Earn Your Diploma from Home!
Programs Offered:
  • Medical Billing Specialist
  • Medical Office Assistant
Campus Locations:
  • , PA

Southern California Health Institute  Online
Since 1996, Southern California Health Institute has been dedicated and committed to helping students achieve their dreams by providing an exceptional education that enables them to become skilled and successful manual therapists.
Programs Offered:
  • Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Program
Campus Locations:
  • North Hollywood, CA

Unitek College  Online
Get the training you need for a career in health care at Unitek College.
Programs Offered:
  • Medical Assisting
Campus Locations:
  • Sacramento, CA

Penn Foster Schools  Online
Advance your career with our affordable, self-paced, career-focused distance education programs.
Programs Offered:
  • Medical Coding and Billing
Campus Locations:
  • Scranton, PA

ITT Technical Institute  Online
Are you interested in pursuing a high-tech career? Getting an education from ITT Tech is a great place to start!
Programs Offered:
  • AS - Medical Assisting and Administration
Campus Locations:
  • Rancho Cordova, CA

Liberty University  Online

With more than 300 online and residential areas of study, Liberty offers programs from the certificate to doctoral level.

Programs Offered:
  • MA Human Services: Health & Wellness
  • AA: Medical Office Assistance
Campus Locations:
  • Lynchburg, VA

Walden University  Online

Impact your world with a degree from Walden. Start today!

Programs Offered:
  • B.S. in Health Studies - Health Management
  • B.S. in Health Studies - Health Communication
  • B.S. in Health Studies - Self-Designed
  • more programs...
Campus Locations:
  • , CA

Pima Medical Institute  Online

Explore a new career with Pima Medical Institute.

Programs Offered:
  • Medical Assistant
Campus Locations:
  • Chula Vista, CA

Carrington College  Online

Welcome to Carrington College - The Starting Point for Health Care Careers.

Programs Offered:
  • Medical Assisting
Campus Locations:
  • Citrus Heights, CA

Ultimate Medical Academy Online  Online

Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) offers industry-relevant knowledge and training for in demand careers in healthcare.

Programs Offered:
  • Diploma - Medical Office Billing Specialist
  • A.S. - Medical Billing & Coding
  • Diploma - Medical Billing & Coding
  • more programs...
Campus Locations:
  • , FL

Matching School Ads
  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Oregon
University of OttawaYork University
Agriculture and Bio-resources | Allied Health and Health Sciences | Applied Business Technology | Architecture
Business Administration | Computer Science | Cosmetology and Esthetics | Culinary, Travel &Hospitality | Dance 
Engineering Technology & Applied Technology |Engineering | Film | Fine Arts and Design | Humanities and Liberal ArtsJustice and Security
| Natural and Applied Sciences | Naturopathic and Holistic MedicineNursingPublic Administration & PolicyReligious and Theological Studies
Sport Sciences and Physical Education | Teacher Education | Theatre
Articles | College News | Videos | Feedback | Career Search
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Faq | Terms of Use | Policy Statement | Site Map | Cities Site Map

Copyright 2003- 2015 QuinStreet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.