a whole person approach to medicine



The Osteopathic profession was founded by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in the United States in the late 1800s. Osteopathic medicine, or osteopathy, is a complete system of health care emphasizing a whole person approach to medicine. There are currently 37 colleges of osteopathic medicine in the United States with 58 campuses producing physicians with comprehensive medical and surgical training, and with special skills in musculoskeletal diagnosis and treatment, who make use of all modern diagnostic and treatment modalities, including unique manual treatment principles known as ‘osteopathic manipulative medicine’.  

– Canadian Osteopathic Association


Osteopathic Manual Practitioners combine a comprehensive blend of osteopathic philosophy, theory, methodology, assessment, technique, clinical application, and research elements. Osteopathy includes work in the myofascial, osteo-articular, visceral, and cranial modalities.

There are numerous essential competencies for osteopathic practitioners, including the following:

  • A strong foundation in osteopathic history, philosophy, and approach to healthcare.
  • An understanding the five models of structure-and-function relationships.
  • An understanding of the mechanisms of action of manual therapeutic interventions.
  • Competency in the palpatory and clinical skills necessary to diagnose dysfunction.
  • Competency in a broad range of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) skills.
  • Proficiency in physical examination and in the interpretation of tests, imaging, and laboratory results.
  • A thorough understanding of the articular, fascial, muscular, and fluid systems.
  • A basic knowledge of traditional medicine and complementary/ alternative medicine.

– Canadian College of Osteopathy 

Osteopathic medicine emphasizes overall health and the relationship among the body’s nerves, muscles, bones, and organs. Osteopathic physicians (also called doctors of osteopathic medicine, or DOs) base diagnosis and treatment on the idea that the body’s systems are interconnected. Instead of treating specific symptoms or illnesses, DOs regard and treat the body as an integrated whole. 

Osteopathic medicine focuses on disease prevention and health maintenance.

Osteopathic physicians must complete basic medical education from an accredited college of osteopathic medicine. Like medical doctors (MDs), DOs must complete an internship and residency program after their basic medical education. DOs can prescribe medicine and do surgery.

Like MDs, DOs must pass a medical board exam to obtain a license in order to enter practice. Each Canadian province sets its own requirements and then issues the license for the osteopathic physician to practice in that province.

– HealthLink BC

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