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Osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) and allopathic physicians (M.D.s) are the only two medical practitioners considered “complete physicians,” with full training and licensure to prescribe medications and perform surgery. D.O.s have opportunities to practice in all branches of medicine and surgery, from psychiatry to obstetrics, and from geriatrics to emergency medicine. Nationally, a high percentage of osteopathic physicians choose to practice in primary care (family medicine, internal medicine or pediatrics), and many serve in small towns and rural areas, where their practices include entire families and whole communities.
Osteopathic physicians attend one of the 29 osteopathic medical schools in the United States. These medical schools espouse the osteopathic philosophy and generally teach a four-year curriculum, which embraces preventive medicine and holistic patient care. Medical students learn to integrate osteopathic principles and techniques into the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
Following graduation, osteopathic physicians complete internship or residency training through a program accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) or the American Council for Graduate Medical Eduation (ACGME). D.O.s can choose to practice in any medical specialty, and training typically ranges from three to six years.
All physicians – D.O.s and M.D.s – must pass a three-part medical board examination to meet licensing requirements to practice medicine.
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, D.O.s 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.
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