What is Osteopathic Health Care?
The health profession of Osteopathy (founded in 1874 by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in the USA) is an established internationally recognized manual medicine system of diagnosis and treatment, which lays its main emphasis on the structural and functional integrity of the musculoskeletal system.
Osteopathic health practitioners use a variety of hands-on physical treatments. These include soft tissue techniques, joint mobilization & manipulation, muscle energy treatment and functional (strain and counter strain) techniques. These techniques are normally employed together with exercise, dietary, and occupational advice in an attempt to help patients recover from pain, disease and injury.
There are two types of osteopaths. European style Osteopaths (also known as osteopathic manual practitioners, manual osteopaths, traditional osteopaths & classical osteopaths) do not prescribe medications or perform surgery, while American style osteopaths (also known as osteopathic physicians) perform surgery and prescribe medications as well as using osteopathic techniques in managing a patient’s condition.
Osteopathy as a Career Choice
Osteopathic health care is one of the most complete health care systems in the world. It is a distinctive form of medical practice. The practice of manual osteopathy utilizes all available modern manual medicine techniques to assess injury and diseases of muscles, bones, joints and nerves. It also offers the added benefit of hands-on diagnosis and treatment through a system of therapy known as osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM). Osteopathic manual practitioners understand how all the body’s systems are interconnected and how each one affects the others. They focus special attention on the musculoskeletal system, which reflects and influences the condition of all other body systems.
Osteopathy is the fastest growing health care profession in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, South Korea, Japan, China, India, Iran & Europe. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) in a report released in December 2012 and published by the Toronto Star; titled “the Top 25 Occupations in Demand” included manual osteopathy in #13 of the occupations in demand in Canada.
The average salary for a new manual osteopathy graduate who works as an employee in a health or rehab clinic is generally between $30 to $40 per hour in Europe, Australia, Caribbean and North America and $10 to $20 in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Manual osteopaths in private osteopathic practice generally charge between $90 to $140 per hour of treatment in Europe, North America, Australia & Caribbean and $20 to $60 per hour in Asia, Latin America & Africa.
For patients injured in a motor vehicle related accident in Ontario (Canada) all auto insurers cover osteopathic treatments at the rate of $53.66 per hour as per fee guideline set by Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO).
The average income of manual osteopaths in Canada and USA is $90,000 per year. In Australia it is $78,000 and in United Kingdom (UK) it is 58,000 Euro. The average income of American style osteopathic physicians varies greatly as it depends on the speciality they practice. It is $161,000 to $576,000 per year.
There is virtually no unemployment in this health care profession. Almost all European style osteopaths find employment within a few months upon graduation.
European style osteopaths are found worldwide. There are approximately 4500 osteopaths in United Kingdom (UK), 1500 manual osteopaths in Canada, 1000 manual osteopaths in Brazil and 67,000 doctors of osteopathic medicine in the USA, and a few thousands more spread around the world in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Panama, Colombia, China, Iran, India, South Korea, Japan, Greece, South Africa, Singapore, Vietnam, Venezuela, Latvia, St Martin, Barbados, Jamaica, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, Argentina, Pakistan, Israel, Austria, Germany, Portugal, Italy, and Netherlands amongst others. Nearly half of them are women.
The number of osteopaths worldwide has increased exponentially in the past few years largely due to National Academy of Osteopathy making the diploma program in osteopathy available to students worldwide through an online method of education.
Where do Osteopaths work?
European style Osteopaths have the option of opening their own manual osteopathy clinics; or to rent rooms in established medical, health or rehab clinics and benefit from cross referrals; or to work as employees in other osteopathic, medical, chiropractic, physiotherapy, athletic therapy, massage or rehab clinics.
Most osteopathic manual practitioners work in private osteopathy clinics, often as sole proprietor, associate or employee. However, the increase in multidisciplinary health care facilities and physical rehabilitation clinics in Canada, USA, Australia & United Kingdom has opened new opportunities for osteopathic manual practitioners to collaborate with other health care professionals (such as family physicians, chiropractors, registered massage therapists, naturopaths, athletic therapists, kinesiologists, podiatrists, chiropodists, occupational therapists, ergonomists, and physiotherapists) and benefit patients with interprofessional care. A small numbers of osteopaths also work in hospitals, nursing homes, health spas, sports teams, insurance companies claims services department, fitness clubs, osteopathic colleges, motor vehicle accident (MVA) assessment centres and other institutions.
Most new graduates start their professional work as employees. Later they establish their own private clinics.
Becoming an Osteopath
To become an osteopath one must graduates from an accredited osteopathic school, college or university. The programs vary in length and diplomas and degrees offered. The diploma programs are generally between 1000 to 2000 hours and the degree programs between 3000 to 4500 hours. The time it takes to graduate depends on the osteopathy program and ranges from 4 months to 4 years.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 4200 hours (4 years) of osteopathic education for students without previous health education and 1000 hours (1 year) for students with previous health education. However WHO guideline is voluntary and not mandatory. It is not a requirement to follow the WHO guideline. Some osteopathic schools follow the WHO guideline voluntarily.
The diplomas and degrees offered by osteopathic schools, colleges & universities include:
– MPH (O) – Master of Public Health (Osteopathy)
– DO – Doctor of Osteopathy BSc (O) – Bachelor of Science in Osteopathy
– DOMP – Diploma in Osteopathic Manual Practice
– MO – Master of Osteopathy
– MSc (O) – Master of Science in Osteopathy
– FOCORS – Fellow of Ontario College of Osteopathic Rehabilitation Sciences
– FACORS – Fellow of Alberta College of Osteopathic Rehabilitation Sciences
– FBCCORS – Fellow of British Columbia College of Osteopathic Rehabilitation Sciences
– DCMOEB – Diplomate of the Canadian Manual Osteopathy Examining Board
– DIOEB – Diplomate of the International Osteopathy Examining Board
The Council on Manual Osteopathy Education (CMOE) of the International Osteopathic Association has accredited the following osteopathic schools, colleges & universities which provide diploma and degree programs in osteopathy:
Online Osteopathic Education Worldwide:
• National University of Medical Sciences
• National Academy of Osteopathy
Campus Based Osteopathic Education:
• Buenos Aires School of Osteopathy (Argentina)
• Instituto Argentina de Osteopatía (Argentina)
• Osterreiches Osteopathie Kolleg (Austria)
• RMIT University (Australia)
• University of Western Sydney (Australia)
• Victoria University (Australia)
• Chiropractic and Osteopathic College of Australasia (Australia)
• Escola Brasileira De Osteopatia (Brazil)
• National Academy of Osteopathy (Canada, Program offered online worldwide & campus based)
• Collège d’Études Ostéopathiques (Canada)
• Centre Ostéopathique du Québec (Canada)
• Canadian College of Osteopathy (Canada)
• Canadian Academy of Osteopathy and Holistic Health Sciences (Canada)
• Southern Ontario College of Osteopathy (Canada)
• The Osteopathic College of Ontario (Canada)
• British College of Osteopathic Medicine (England)
• British School of Osteopathy (England)
• College of Osteopaths (England)
• European School of Osteopathy (England)
• London School of Osteopathy (England)
• National Academy of Osteopathy (England)
• London College of Osteopathic Medicine (England)
• Oxford Brookes University (England)
• Centre Europeen d’Enseignement Superieur de l’Osteopathie (France)
• Institut de Formation en Ostéopathie du Grand-Avignon (France)
• Osterreiches Osteopathie Kolleg (Germany)
• Deutsches Osteopathie Kolleg (Germany)
• Istituto Superiore di Osteopatia – Milano (Italy)
• Unitec (New Zealand)
• Russian School of Osteopathic Medicine (Russia)
• National Academy of Osteopathy (South Korea)
• Swiss International College of Osteopathy (Switzerland)
• Madrid School of Osteopathy (Spain)
• National University of Medical Sciences (Spain, program offered online worldwide & campus based)
• Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain)
Osteopathic Care & Treatments
A number of researches have shown patients who have low back pain of mechanical origin are most satisfied with osteopathic treatments.
Dr. Lee Choi, MD, an osteopathy student of National Academy of Osteopathy has completed a research project as his thesis towards the investigative project requirement of course TH 980 of the diploma in manual osteopathy program.
Dr. Choi’s research analysed 100 patients’ response to low back pain treatments performed by manual osteopaths, registered massage therapists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, acupuncturists and physicians.
Patients who received European style osteopathic treatment had the highest rate of satisfaction with their treatments, followed by chiropractic, massage therapy, physiotherapy, acupuncture and medicine.