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The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) represents more than 145,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students.

In addition to advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine, the AOA promotes public health, encourages scientific research, serves as the primary certifying body for DOs and acts as the accrediting agency for all osteopathic medical schools.


Find an expert

If you’re a member of the media working on an article about osteopathic medicine or seeking an expert source, please contact:

  • Jeff Brennan

    Manager, Media Relations
    (312) 202-8161
    Email Jeff


News releases

Shift workers at risk for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes
Employers and workers can take action to mitigate risks of metabolic syndrome, according to researchers in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

More than two-thirds of Americans (71%) say their overall health and wellness is good or excellent
However, desire for more access to healthcare a main undercurrent in the American Osteopathic Association’s comprehensive Whole-Person Health Poll.

Study finds 80% of medical students feel low sense of personal achievement
Research on burnout at osteopathic medical schools also finds 17% report high levels of depersonalization.

AOA Statement on Congressional Health Care Spending Agreement
The American Osteopathic Association commends Congressional leaders on their work to achieve a bipartisan agreement on an annual appropriations and other public health legislation.

Researchers say 30% of patients taking opioids experience adverse drug interactions
Complications often go undetected but can contribute to misuse and overdose, according to The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

 


Osteopathic Medicine FAQ

What are DOs?

There are two types of fully licensed physicians in the US: Medical Doctors (MDs) and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs). Their training and education are similar and equally rigorous, involving four years of medical school followed by specialty training in a residency program. Both types of physicians practice in every medical and surgical specialty in the United States.

Today, there are approximately 114,000 licensed and practicing osteopathic physicians in the US, which is just over 11% of the physician population. Osteopathic medicine is the fastest growing medical field in the U.S., and one in four medical students in the United States is training to be an osteopathic physician. DOs are projected to represent more than 20% of all practicing physicians by 2030.

What is the AOA?

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) represents more than 145,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students. In addition to advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine, the AOA promotes public health, encourages scientific research, serves as the primary certifying body for DOs and acts as the accrediting agency for all osteopathic medical schools. Learn more about DOs and their unique approach to care.

What is the correct terminology?

‘Osteopathic physician’ and ‘osteopathic medicine’ are the terms to use for the DOs. ‘Osteopath’ and ‘osteopathy’ refer to foreign-trained, non-physician health care professionals.

Osteopathic physician (DO) should be used when referring to a fully licensed physician who graduated from an accredited osteopathic medical school in the United States and is qualified to prescribe medication and practice in all specialty areas including surgery. Osteopath describes a health care provider trained outside of the United States who does not qualify for licensure for the unlimited practice of medicine.

Osteopathic medicine should be used when referring to medicine practiced by osteopathic physicians who graduate from accredited osteopathic medical schools in the United States. Osteopathy should only be used when referring to the occupation of osteopaths trained outside of the United States who do not qualify for licensure for the unlimited practice of medicine.

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine is the proper name for the degree granted by osteopathic medical schools in the United States and is represented by the acronym DO. Do not use Doctor of Osteopathy. DO also may be used in place of osteopathic physician.

How should the DO designation be used?

Use the DO designation when referring to an osteopathic physician in the first reference:

  • Jane M. Jones, DO

State a DO’s specialty as:

  • Dr. Jane M. Jones, an osteopathic radiologist
  • Dr. James A. Rodriguez, an osteopathic pediatrician

Hold more than one professional degree? Use:

  • Jane M. Jones, DO, PhD
  • James A. Rodriguez, DO, MPH

Use the terms family medicine and family physician instead of general practice and general practitioner.

How should osteopathic medical schools be referenced?

Refer to osteopathic medical schools with their osteopathic identification:

  • New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine
What are the education, training, and licensure requirements for DOs?

Like MDs, DOs complete four years of medical school, followed by post-graduate training that may include an internship, residency and fellowship.  Physicians licensed as DOs, like their MD counterparts, must pass a stringent national medical board examination and complete post-graduate training in order to be eligible for state licensure. DOs and MDs may also become board-certified in the practice of their medical specialty.

What makes DOs different from MDs?

One way in which DOs are distinct from MDs is they receive an additional 200 hours of training in osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM). Through their training, DOs come to understand the body’s musculoskeletal system, an interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones.

DOs partner with patients to help them get healthy and stay well. They take a whole-person approach to treatment and care, focusing on disease prevention. DOs practicing OMM provide diagnosis and treatment through a system of techniques that also help alleviate pain, restore motion, and support the body’s structure to help it function more efficiently.


View the AOA’s annual Osteopathic Medical Profession (OMP) report for more information and current data on osteopathic medicine.

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