September 21, 2023

There are two pathways to becoming a licensed physician: studying allopathic medicine and obtaining your degree as a Medical Doctor (MD), or studying osteopathic medicine and acquiring your degree as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O).

D.O physicians are trained in modern medicine, and they receive special instruction on the musculoskeletal system and a hands-on approach called Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment, or OMT. Bayhealth Primary Care Physician Vincent Lobo, DO, explains more about OMT.


Osteopathy is a holistic approach to medical care. It believes that the body has complex mechanisms to self-regulate, self-heal, and maintain health. It also believes that the body’s structure determines its function, and that an abnormal structure can limit a person’s ability to function normally. Osteopathy aims to decrease excessive work by the body, restoring normal musculoskeletal function and allowing the body to heal itself naturally.

Doctors of Osteopathy (DOs) receive a full medical education that is comparable to MD doctors, but they also undergo extensive training in a practice called osteopathy or osteopathic manipulative medicine. DOs use hands-on treatment techniques to treat a patient’s pain and to promote overall health. DOs focus on the musculoskeletal system because it reflects and influences the condition of all other body systems.

DOs believe that the body is self-repairing, self-sustaining and self-adjusting, so they concentrate on preventing illness as well as treating patients when they become ill. They stress preventive healthcare, such as healthy eating and regular exercise, to ensure that the body can function optimally.

At HealthBridge, we have an excellent team of open minded traditional physicians and alternative practitioners, including an Osteopathic Physician who has extensive experience in osteopathic manipulation and women’s health. You can schedule an appointment with her here.

Joshua Trinidad, DO, explains that DOs—and now a growing number of traditionally trained MDs—use a whole person and patient-centered approach. “As osteopathic physicians, we look at the whole patient and focus on maximizing a person’s health so that they can heal themselves,” he says.

DOs are especially adept at treating musculoskeletal conditions because they are specially trained in osteopathic manipulative medicine, or OMM. This hands-on therapy uses a variety of physical techniques to address musculoskeletal misalignments, tissue abnormalities, joint restrictions and muscle imbalances. It also helps to improve the circulation throughout the body, which can help to relieve many symptoms and diseases. To learn more about what osteopathic physicians can do for you, contact us today. We’ll be happy to connect you with a Castle Connolly Top Doctor who can address your concerns.


During their four years of medical school and residency, osteopathic physicians (DOs) are trained in a hands-on method called Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine or OMM. It’s a system of techniques to help diagnose and treat illness, injury and disease.

OMM utilizes a person’s own natural ability to be healthy, rather than relying on medication. It’s based on the philosophy that the body is self-regulating and capable of self-healing, with structures and systems interrelated. A DO takes this into account when assessing a patient and developing a treatment plan.

A DO will evaluate a patient’s overall health, including their physical, emotional and social well-being. They are also trained to identify risk factors for disease and promote wellness through lifestyle changes. For example, an osteopathic physician may ask a patient about their smoking habits and work stress to assess the level of risk for heart disease.

In addition to stethoscopes, DOs use their ears to listen compassionately to their patients; their eyes to see the whole patient as a person, not just an illness; and their hands to palpate — gently examine — for signs of disease or injury, including musculoskeletal dysfunction and the interconnectedness of all body systems. They have extra training in how to detect and correct musculoskeletal problems such as joint restriction, muscle spasms, spinal curvature, leg length imbalances, and poor posture.

While the practice of osteopathy has roots in 1874, its principles are very much on the cutting edge of today’s medicine. DOs are able to combine the latest technology with their ears to listen and understand their patients’ needs, their eyes to see their patients as whole persons and their hands to diagnose and treat illness and injury.

This distinctive approach is why many people choose to seek care from osteopathic physicians and find their Doctors That DO. PCOM OMM faculty carry on one of the longest-lived traditions of osteopathic diagnosis and treatment, dating back to the founding of our institution in 1899. In fact, the osteopathic concept of osteopathic medicine is not only unique to PCOM but has been the foundation for our teaching and curriculum since its inception.


The osteopathic philosophy is based on the principle that the structure and function of the body are reciprocally interrelated. When the body is structurally healthy, it is able to self-regulate, self-heal and maintain health naturally. This is called the osteopathic concept of the “wellness of the whole person.”

Dr. Andrew Taylor Still founded osteopathic medicine in 1874 after being disillusioned with contemporary medical remedies. His unique approach to healthcare was revolutionary, focusing on the concepts of holism, prevention and manipulation. He believed that the structure of the human body determines its function, and that when there is an imbalance of the osteopathic structure, it can cause somatic dysfunction in various organs and systems.

Today, osteopathic physicians are on the cutting edge of modern medicine. They complete four years of medical school and at least three years of residency, just like their MD counterparts. But they also receive specialized training in osteopathic manipulative treatment, or OMM, which allows them to use their hands as diagnostic and therapeutic tools. Unlike an MD, a DO takes into account a patient’s mind, spirit and body when diagnosing and treating disease.

A DO’s training focuses on the interconnectedness of all body systems, and pays special attention to the musculoskeletal system, which includes muscles, bones and nerves. It is this holistic approach that distinguishes osteopathic practitioners from their MD counterparts.

Both MDs and DOs are fully licensed physicians capable of performing surgery and prescribing medications. Both have completed medical school and a residency program, but there are significant differences in their approach to care.

During their medical education, DO students learn to use the same diagnostic equipment as MD students (stethoscopes, gonadilators, etc.). But they also get 300 hours of OMM training, which is specifically focused on the musculoskeletal system and the way that it impacts all other body systems. This additional training gives DOs a more comprehensive view of their patients, which can help them make better decisions about the best way to treat their patients.


The osteopathic physician carries out his professional duties in a manner that is conscientious and respectful of the individual patient. He is guided by the principles of osteopathy, which focus on the inherent ability of the body to heal itself.

In addition to ensuring that patients have access to the best care, osteopathic physicians are also dedicated to providing education and research to advance their profession. However, this comes with a number of ethical issues that need to be considered. For example, osteopathic researchers may need to consider the ethics of genetic testing. They also need to be aware of the risks involved with invasive techniques and their impact on the patient.

Physicians are obligated to maintain high standards and, therefore, must continuously regulate themselves. A substantial part of this regulation comes from the efforts and influence of recognized local, state and national associations representing the osteopathic medical profession. A physician should maintain membership in and actively support such associations, and he should abide by their rules and regulations.

Another issue that osteopathic physicians need to be mindful of is the concept of privacy. They should not divulge any information about their patients without the patient’s consent. Furthermore, they should keep in confidence whatever they learn about a patient during the discharge of their professional duties and not reveal such information except when required by law or authorized by the patient.

Ultimately, osteopathic physicians are expected to follow the American Osteopathic Association’s Code of Ethics. This Code of Ethics is a set of standards that address the osteopathic physician’s ethical and professional responsibilities to patients, to society, to the AOA, to other professionals involved in health care and to self.

If you are a US-based medical or osteopathic student or trainee in an LCME or COCA-accredited (for undergraduate schools) or ACGME- or AOA-accredited (for graduate training) program, and you have a strong interest in health care ethics and policy, we invite you to apply to work as an AMA Journal of Ethics Fellow with one other person to generate monthly theme issues. The fellowship lasts 6 months.

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