What is Osteopathic Medicine?

November 14, 2017


According to the American Medical Association’s Physician Masterfile, there are upwards of 800,000 practicing physicians throughout the United States and the vast majority – roughly 750,000 – are MDs (Doctor of Medicine). But a growing number of medical professionals are opting to practice as DOs (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). A report released last year by the American Osteopathic Association shows an industry growth rate of 65 percent between 2006 and 2016. Since 1986, the number of Dos practicing nationwide skyrocketed 276 percent.

So what exactly is Osteopathic Medicine? It’s a distinct form of medical practice that involves all of the same services that an MD provides including diagnosing medical conditions and prescribing drugs and other treatments. However, while classic medicine focuses on diagnosis and treatment of human diseases, osteopathic medicine goes a step further, employing a more holistic, whole-patient approach that emphasizes the philosophy that all body systems are interrelated and dependent upon one another for total wellness.

Osteopathic medicine was founded in 1874 by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, a Kirksville, Missouri physician who felt that standard medical practices of the day often did more harm than good. In an effort to improve the practice of medicine as a whole, he developed a system of care that promoted disease prevention as well as the body’s innate ability to heal itself. His game-changing approach focused on helping patients to better understand their own bodies and to adopt healthier, disease-preventative lifestyle choices.

Medical students considering osteopathic practice study all the same subjects as those going for conventional medical degrees, plus take an additional 200 hours of training in the art of osteopathic manipulative medicine. That added training involves hands-on techniques that help alleviate pain, restore motion, support the body’s natural functions and influence the body’s structure to help it function more efficiently. Once licensed, Dos practice in all types of medical specialties including primary care, obstetrics and surgery.

Similar to Dr. Still’s approach, WOLFPACC founder Dr. Hans Wolf also teaches an innovative approach to the study and practice of medicine that emphasizes the common links between organ systems and an understanding of the patient as a total unit rather than a single presenting sign or symptom. This approach challenges students to consider not just what is happening to a patient, but how and why a condition is happening, resulting in a more thorough and accurate diagnosis and a more effective treatment plan.

Learn more about the WOLFPACC method and how it can help you achieve your goals in the study and practice of osteopathic medicine. Call 904-209-3140 to speak with an enrollment specialist today.