What is Osteopathic Medicine? | American Osteopathic Association
A whole-person approach to hands-on care
Osteopathic physicians believe there’s more to good health than the absence of pain or disease. Learn more about the DO difference.
What is osteopathic medicine? A distinct branch of medicine in the U.S., osteopathic medicine emphasizes the interrelated unity of all systems in the body, each working with the other to heal in times of illness. Learn more about the DO Difference.
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, are fully licensed physicians who practice their unique whole-person approach in every medical specialty. DOs look beyond your symptoms to understand how lifestyle and environmental factors impact your wellbeing, and complete extensive postgraduate and clinical training before becoming fully licensed physicians. Compare physician training requirements to those required for other types of clinicians.
DOs practice medicine according to the latest science and technology, but also consider options to complement pharmaceuticals and surgery. They complete additional training in Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment, a hands-on tool used to help diagnose, treat and prevent injury and illness.
Osteopathic medicine is one of the fastest-growing health care professions in the country, with one out of every four medical students enrolled in an osteopathic medical school. Over the past decade, the profession has experienced a 68% increase in the total number of DOs. If this trend continues, DOs are projected to represent more than 20% of all practicing physicians by the year 2030.
The profession has a long history of providing care where patients lack doctors. Following this trend, more than 50% of active DOs practice in the primary care specialties of family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics.