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Osteopath / Osteopathic Physician Career

Osteopath / Osteopathic Physician CareerWhat Osteopaths / Osteopathic Physicians do:
Osteopathy studies the inter-relationship between the structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) of the human body. A doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) is a state-licensed practice physician (therapist) who manipulates the skeleton and muscles of patients.

The DO can carry out many of the duties of a doctor of medicine (MD) including performing surgery and writing prescriptions, but DO’s are specially trained to offer their patients something more, a whole-person "holistic" approach, this means they look at the whole person to reach a diagnosis without simply focusing on the symptoms.

DO’s work in hospitals, clinics and private practices specializing in a variety of medical fields including family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, where they teach children, parents, adults and the elderly to develop attitudes and lifestyles that will prevent illness.

DO’s are also trained in drug-free, non-invasive medicine that includes performing osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), Craniosacral Therapy (CST), Myofascial Release and other manipulation techniques that help the body to heal itself.

The main duties of an Osteopath / Osteopathic Physician include:

  • Diagnosing illness and injury
  • Prescribing and administering treatment
  • Performing osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT)
  • Examining the body for pain and restriction during motion
  • Advising patients on preventing and managing disease
  • Carrying out high velocity-low amplitude treatments
  • Performing craniosacral therapy (CST), myofascial release and other manipulation techniques

Education & Qualifications:
Similar to MDs, DOs must complete four years of medical school before obtaining a graduate education through residencies, internships and fellowships. Graduate programs take three to eight years to complete and prepare DOs to specialize in a field of medicine such as family medicine, ophthalmology, pediatrics, psychiatry or surgery. When these requirements have been satisfied DO’s become licensed by passing the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination of the United States (COMLEX-USA) exam administered by the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME).

COMLEX-USA is the primary licensure exam to practice osteopathic medicine and is accepted in 50 states. It consists of three levels:

  • Level 1 is a one day examination that is taken after the second year of medical school.
  • Level 2 Cognitive Evaluation (CE) is taken during the fourth year of medical school.
  • Level 2 Performance Evaluation (PE) is the clinical skills component and only takes place in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania (bordering Philadelphia).
  • Level 3 is normally taken after starting residency.

Salary & Job Prospects:
Qualified osteopathic physicians can expect to earn salaries between $90,000 – $200,000 per year. Salaries are dependent on qualifications, location, position held and experience. Career Outlook - As all health-care industries are expanding, employment of osteopathic physicians and surgeons is projected to grow faster than average.

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