Osteopathic Medical Schools and Careers

Learn the benefits of osteopathic medical schools.

A holistic approach to health care, osteopathy integrates conventional medicine with alternative medicine practices.

Students at osteopathy colleges receive training in the same methods and procedures as allopathic doctors as well as in natural healing alternatives, most notably, osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), a therapy that aims to improve the body’s balance and function, thereby promoting self-healing.

Career Overview

Osteopathic doctors view patients as partners in their medical treatment and will interview them about their conditions, lifestyles, diet, exercise routines and other issues that can create imbalances in the body’s structure and function.

During a treatment session, osteopaths will use OMT, gentle hands-on techniques such as deep tactile pressure, soft tissue stretching and joint manipulation, to help relieve a patient’s pain, stress or other health conditions. Osteopaths might also advise patients on nutrition, how to prevent injuries and other topics that promote overall wellness.

Because of the in-depth medical training they receive at osteopathy college, Doctors of Osteopathy (DOs) can practice in any standard medical setting, and many serve as primary care physicians for families.

Training and Education

What You’ll Study in Osteopathic Medical Schools

To meet the standards set by The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), osteopathy colleges must incorporate a set number of hours of instruction in basic and clinical science areas, including the following:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Behavioral science
  • Internal medicine
  • Medical ethics
  • Neurology
  • Osteopathic manual medicine
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Preventive medicine and nutrition
  • Clinical practice

Average Length of Study

Typically, training at osteopathy college takes four years of full-time study beyond a bachelor’s degree. To gain acceptance, osteopathic medical schools generally require that applicants have completed specific science and general education courses as part of their undergraduate curriculum and that they earned a minimum science and cumulative GPA.

Average Tuition

Tuition at osteopathic medical schools varies based on whether you choose a private or public osteopathy college. According to AACOM, the average tuition for public osteopathy colleges is approximately $24,000. Tuition at private osteopathic medical schools averages just under $40,000.

Osteopathy Certification

Graduates of an accredited osteopathy college must pass the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (COMLEX) in order to practice as an osteopathic physician. Typically, states require applicants to complete their residency before they can become certified. Residency programs can last as many as seven years.

Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) current Occupational Outlook Handbook shows that employment of physicians and surgeons, including osteopaths, will grow at a rate of 15 percent through 2026. Continued expansion of the health care industry and the public’s ongoing interest in holistic health alternatives are two key factors that will contribute to the growth in osteopathic careers in the coming decade.

According to the BLS, the median national annual salary for physicians and surgeons is $251,578. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.The standard income for osteopaths across industries is approximately $150,000 a year, with surgeons and D.O.’s who work in hospitals bringing home the highest salaries.

Is an Osteopathy Career Right for You?

A career in osteopathy takes a long-term commitment to meet the educational and residency requirements for the profession. Not to mention, you should be self-motivated, eager to work with and help patients and willing to study throughout your career in order to keep up with the latest trends and practices in osteopathy.

If an osteopathic medicine career interests you, take a closer look at osteopathic medical schools. Then choose the osteopathy college program that meets your personal and professional needs.

Sources: American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, Des Moines University, LECOM, Medical News Today

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