About Osteopathic Medicine

  • The foundation of osteopathic medicine is that people are more than just the sum of their body parts. Instead of treating specific symptoms, osteopathic doctors' training and practice concentrate on interconnectivity of all body systems and how each one affects the others.

    About Osteopathic Medicine 2Doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) help patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don’t just fight illness, but help prevent it. Millions of Americans prefer this concerned and compassionate care and have made DOs their doctors for life.

    In our training and practice, we pay special attention on the musculoskeletal system, a structure of muscles and bones, which impacts the condition of all other body systems. Osteopathic physicians are trained to use their hands to diagnose, treat and prevent illness and injury. Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is one of the techniques that sets osteopathic physicians apart from their allopathic peers (MDs).  

  • At first glance, the difference between DOs and MDs is difficult to distinguish. They are both fully licensed physicians, trained in diagnosing and treating illnesses and disorders and providing preventive care. They are the only two medical practitioners with full training who are licensed to prescribe medications and perform surgery.

    About Osteopathic Medicine

    Osteopathic physicians attend one of 29 osteopathic medical schools in the United States, which embrace preventive medicine and holistic patient care.

    Following graduation, osteopathic physicians and allopathic physicians complete internship or residency training. DOs, like MDs, may choose to practice in any medical specialty, and training typically ranges from three to six years.


    All physicians – DOs and MDs – must pass a three-part medical licensing examination to meet state requirements to practice medicine and surgery.

    Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment

    Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is one of the techniques that sets osteopathic physicians apart from their allopathic peers.

    Osteopathic physicians are trained to use their hands to diagnose, treat and prevent illness and injury. Through OMT, DOs move their patients’ muscles and joints using a variety of techniques, including stretching, gentle pressure and resistance.

    OMT is used for people of all ages and can ease pain, promote healing and increase overall mobility. When appropriate, it can also complement or even replace drugs or surgery. It’s an added dimension of care that osteopathic physicians make use of to heal their patients.


    The osteopathic philosophy embraces the idea of the unity of structure (anatomy) and function (physiology). There are four main principles of osteopathic medicine: 

    1. The body is a unit, and the person represents a combination of body, mind and spirit.
    2. The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing and health maintenance.
    3. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
    4. Rational treatment is based on an understanding of these principles: body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.

    Osteopathic Oath
    KCU Osteopathic Medical Student Oath of Commitment
    AOA Code of Ethics 

    Osteopathic Oath

    I do hereby affirm my loyalty to the profession I am about to enter.

    I will be mindful always of my great responsibility to preserve the health and the life of my patients, to retain their confidence and respect both as a physician and a friend who will guard their secrets with scrupulous honor and fidelity, to perform faithfully my professional duties, to employ only those recognized methods of treatment consistent with good judgment and with my skill and ability, keeping in mind always nature’s laws and the body’s inherent capacity for recovery.

    I will be ever vigilant in aiding in the general welfare of the community, sustaining its laws and institutions, not engaging in those practices, which will in any way, bring shame or discredit upon myself or my profession. I will give no drugs for deadly purposes to any person, though it be asked of me.

    I will endeavor to work in accord with my colleagues in a spirit of progressive cooperation, and never by word or by act cast imputations upon them or their rightful practices.

    I will look with respect and esteem upon all those who have taught me my art. To my college I will be loyal and strive always for its best interests and for the interests of the students who will come after me. I will be ever alert to further the application of basic biologic truths to the healing arts and to develop the principles of osteopathy, which were first enunciated by Andrew Taylor Still.

    KCU Osteopathic Medical Student Oath of Commitment

    As I embark upon the study of medicine at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences’ College of Osteopathic Medicine, I will enter into a relationship of mutual respect with my teachers and my colleagues to enhance the learning environment and gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes of an exemplary physician.

    I accept responsibility only for those matters for which I am competent, maintaining the trust expected of a physician. I will be ever cognizant of the human and medical needs of each patient acknowledging that healing also involves the spirit and that a physician must exemplify humane, holistic and compassionate care.

    I will value the knowledge and wisdom of the physicians who have preceded me, and endeavor to contribute to this tradition. I will recognize my strengths and my weaknesses and strive to develop those qualities that will earn the respect of my patients, my colleagues, my family and myself.

    I will continue this learning throughout all the days of my life.

    AOA Code of Ethics

    The American Osteopathic Association has formulated this Code to guide its member physicians in their professional lives. The standards presented are designed to address the osteopathic physician’s ethical and professional responsibilities to patients, to society, to the AOA, to others involved in healthcare and to self.

    Further, the American Osteopathic Association has adopted the position that physicians should play a major role in the development and instruction of medical ethics.

    Section 1. The physician shall keep in confidence whatever she/he may learn about a patient in the discharge of professional duties. The physician shall divulge information only when required by law or when authorized by the patient.

    Section 2. The physician shall give a candid account of the patient’s condition to the patient or to those responsible for the patient’s care.

    Section 3. A physician-patient relationship must be founded on mutual trust, cooperation and respect. The patient, therefore, must have complete freedom to choose her/his physician. The physician must have complete freedom to choose patients whom she/he will serve. However, the physician should not refuse to accept patients because of the patient’s race, creed, color, sex, national origin or handicap. In emergencies, a physician should make her/his services available.

    Section 4. A physician is never justified in abandoning a patient. The physician shall give due notice to a patient or to those responsible for the patient’s care when she/he withdraws from the case so that another physician may be engaged.

    Section 5. A physician shall practice in accordance with the body of systematized and scientific knowledge related to the healing arts. A physician shall maintain competence in such systematized and scientific knowledge through study and clinical applications.

    Section 6. The osteopathic medical profession has an obligation to society to maintain its high standards and, therefore, to continuously regulate itself. A substantial part of such regulation is due to the efforts and influence of the recognized local, state and national associations representing the osteopathic medical profession. A physician should maintain membership in and actively support such associations and abide by their rules and regulations.

    Section 7. Under the law a physician may advertise, but no physician shall advertise or solicit patients directly or indirectly through the use of matters or activities, which are false or misleading.

    Section 8. A physician shall not hold forth or indicate possession of any degree recognized as the basis for licensure to practice the healing arts unless he is actually licensed on the basis of that degree in the state in which she/he practices. A physician shall designate her/his osteopathic school of practice in all professional uses of her/his name. Indications of specialty practice, membership in professional societies, and related matters shall be governed by rules promulgated by the American Osteopathic Association.

    Section 9. A physician should not hesitate to seek consultation whenever she/he believes it advisable for the care of the patient.

    Section 10. In any dispute between or among physicians involving ethical or organizational matters, the matter in controversy should first be referred to the appropriate arbitrating bodies of the profession.

    Section 11. In any dispute between or among physicians regarding the diagnosis and treatment of a patient, the attending physician has the responsibility for final decisions, consistent with any applicable osteopathic hospital rules or regulations.

    Section 12. Any fee charged by a physician shall compensate the physician for services actually rendered. There shall be no division of professional fees for referrals of patients.

    Section 13. A physician shall respect the law. When necessary a physician shall attempt to help to formulate the law by all proper means in order to improve patient care and public health.

    Section 14. In addition to adhering to the foregoing ethical standards, a physician shall recognize a responsibility to participate in community activities and services.

    Section 15. It is considered sexual misconduct for a physician to have sexual contact with any current patient whom the physician has interviewed and/or upon whom a medical or surgical procedure has been performed.

    Section 16. Sexual harassment by a physician is considered unethical. Sexual harassment is defined as physical or verbal intimation of a sexual nature involving a colleague or subordinate in the workplace or academic setting, when such conduct creates an unreasonable, intimidating, hostile or offensive workplace or academic setting.

    Section 17. From time to time, industry may provide some AOA members with gifts as an inducement to use their products or services. Members who use these products and services as a result of these gifts, rather than simply for the betterment of their patients and the improvement of the care rendered in their practices, shall be considered to have acted in an unethical manner. (Approved July 2003)

    Section 18. A physician shall not intentionally misrepresent himself/herself or his/her research work in any way.

    Section 19. When participating in research, a physician shall follow the current laws, regulations and standards of the United States or, if the research is conducted outside the United States, the laws, regulations and standards applicable to research in the nation where the research is conducted. This standard shall apply for physician involvement in research at any level and degree of responsibility, including, but not limited to, research, design, funding, participation either as examining and/or treating provider, supervision of other staff in their research, analysis of data and publication of results in any form for any purpose.

    Andrew Taylor Still, a physician in Baldwin City, Kan., during the time of the Civil War, became disillusioned with contemporary medical remedies that involved such nefarious practices as bleeding, purging and drugging.Andrew Taylor Still, DO

    For 10 years, he studied, observed and experimented, and in 1874, he unveiled a new medical philosophy – a philosophy that emphasized the revolutionary concepts of holism, prevention and manipulation. He named this philosophy osteopathic medicine.

    In 1892, Still founded the first osteopathic medical school, the American School of Osteopathy, in Kirksville, Mo. The school, which still exists, is known as A.T. Still University of Health Sciences. In 1916, the Kansas City College of Osteopathy and Surgery (KCCOS) was founded, which later was renamed Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, making KCU one of the oldest osteopathic medical schools.