Osteopathic Medicine Does Exist!

You probably didn’t know there is a parallel world of physicians and surgeons who don’t have M.D. after their names. Here’s the rundown from inside this unique (and totally awesome) world.

1. Osteopathic Medicine was founded in the late 19th century by this guy…

If you think he looks like a frontier, Civil War-era surgeon, you’re really perceptive!

Back then, medical treatments consisted of arsenic, opium, mercury, whiskey and unsanitary surgery. Maybe a typical weekend for Marilyn Manson, but for most, these treatments caused more harm than cure.

Dr. Still studied various healing modalities and integrated healthy eating and proper body alignment with surgery and medications.

2. Osteopathic Physicians get the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree.

D.O.s practice in all specialties of medicine and surgery.

Not to be confused with Doctors of Optometry (O.D.), the folks who make your Buddy Holly glasses and cat-eye contacts.

3. D.O.s are a rapidly-growing subset of physicians.

All 50 states & 44 countries give DOs the same unlimited practice rights as MDs.

Currently, 1 out of 5 people studying to be a physician is in osteopathic medical school.

In just the last two years, four new schools started training osteopathic physicians.

The osteopathic philosophy sure is catching on quick!

4. But D.O.s are still a minority. And they sometimes get treated unfairly.

Lt. Cmdr Richard Jadick, DO, is the Iraq War’s most decorated surgeon. In 2006, “Newsweek” incorrectly labeled him an MD.

After an uproar from the DO community, the magazine printed a correction.

Dr. Jadick is very proud of his osteopathic profession (that’s him, speaking at an osteopathic medical school graduation).

He saved 30 lives in the midst of battle! The least they could have done was get his name right.

5. While training to be doctors, Osteopathic Physicians have to study more stuff.

In addition to the same classes and training requirements as MDs, osteopathic physicians have to take 300 to 500 hours of more classes to learn osteopathic principles and how to align the musculoskeletal system with their hands.

That’s a lot of extra work! (And apparently, a lot of touching your half-naked classmates…)

6. There are four basic Osteopathic Principles that D.O.s can apply to every medical and surgical specialty.

1. The body is a unit; the person is a unit 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 upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.

7. Osteopathic Physicians can use a well-developed sense of touch to help diagnose and treat their patients.

It’s called osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). Scientific studies have demonstrated its potential benefits for years, and there are more data in the works.

Don’t worry! If your MD wants to learn OMT, many DOs love to teach it.

Click on the link for more on the science of OMT.

8. D.O.s officially use the Staff of Asclepius as their symbol.

The Staff of Asclepius represents the Greek god of healing and medicine, the god all physicians swear to in the Hippocratic Oath.

The Caduceus (the one with two snakes and wings) represents the Greek god of commerce, eloquence, trickery, negotiation and potions.

The DO profession only uses Asclepius, because…well…because history.

9. And now an (abbreviated) list of some famous Osteopathic doctors.*

Earl Haas, DO - inventor of the tampon (you’re welcome, ladies)

Reef Karim, DO - medical expert on movies and TV shows such as “The Bourne Identity,” “Alias” and “The Today Show”

John Fong, DO - medical consultant to the long-running TV series “ER”

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Ronald Blanck, DO - surgeon general of the U.S. Army from 1996 to 2000

Forrest “Phog” Allen, DO - basketball coach for the Kansas Jayhawks for 39 years

Samuel Sheppard, DO - the basis for the TV series and movie “The Fugitive”

Joel Weisman, DO - one of the physicians who discovered AIDS

W. Kenneth Riland, DO - personal physician to former presidents and Nelson Rockefeller

Barbara Ross-Lee, DO - the first African-American woman to serve as dean of a U.S. medical school

William Anderson, DO - a civil rights leader who worked closely with MLK, Jr

Will Kirby, DO - won the second season of TV’s “Big Brother” on CBS and is a frequent guest on “The Doctors”

Leonard Calabrese, DO - a pioneer in HIV research at the Cleveland Clinic

Enrico Fazzini, DO - a Parkinson’s disease expert whose famous patients have included Pope John Paul II, Michael J. Fox, Mohammed Ali and Janet Reno

Rear Admiral Joyce Johnson, DO - the U.S. Coast Guard’s chief medical officer

*No one knows for sure if Doctor Who is an MD or DO.

10. So, next time you’re out shopping for a doctor and you see “D.O.,” think about the parallel world of Osteopathic Medicine, their unique skills and additional training. After all…

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