I am an osteopathic medical student. When I graduate medical school, my white coat will be embroidered with the letters D.O. Oh how exciting that day will be ?
I am starting this blog series in hopes of describing osteopathic medicine, in all of it’s beauty, from many different perspectives. Each post in this series will be written by a new face – someone who wants to share their viewpoint with you. To begin the series, I’m giving you my perspective. So, lets talk medicine.
I didn’t know what osteopathic medicine was until I began the process of medical school applications. Actually, I was confused when I first learned that there are two types of licensed physicians. Maybe it’s my rose-colored glasses that I use to look at the world, but I thought that all doctors were trained to listen; to pay more attention to their patients than their patients’ charts. I thought the principal to promote the body’s natural tendency toward health and self-healing was taught in every medical school, but this focus is unique to osteopathic medicine. Identifying strongly with these principles, the core of osteopathic philosophy, I found myself running full speed towards the medical school I currently attend.
“If your blood pressure is high, I should give you something to lower it.” “Since you have back pain, let’s get you a pain killer.” While these statements may sound logical at first read, they avoid the main issue. Why is your blood pressure high? Why do you have back pain? These are the important questions.
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, DOs, believe that there is more to health than simply the absence of disease or pain. Disease is a disruption of homeostasis in our bodies, affecting multiple systems – a domino effect. Treatment aims to restore that balance through structural (bones, muscles, tendons, fascia, and nerves), mental, lifestyle, and chemical or surgical optimization, basically in that order. DOs focus on prevention by gaining a deeper understanding of your lifestyle and environment, looking beyond the symptoms and taking the time to know you as a whole person. We are trained in evidence-based medicine, but also to work with you to create your treatment plan.
We’ve also got an extra tool in our tool box. Osteopathic medical students receive an additional 200+ hours of education (on top of traditional medical education) in OMM/OMT (Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine/Treatment). Through OMM, we use our hands to diagnose illness and to support the body’s innate ability to heal itself. DOs have a deep understanding of how the human body’s physiological systems are intimately intertwined, and how each affects the others. OMM is used to treat a variety of health issues, including muscle pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and migraines. It can provide relief for patients with asthma or sinus disorders, and in many cases can be used to complement, or even replace, drugs or surgery.
To all my fellow medical students and doctors, both allopathic and osteopathic, thank you. Thank you for committing to a lifetime of learning so that you may care for others.
Nicolet Finger, OMS-II
There are more than 100,000 DOs in the US, practicing in every medical specialty. Want to visit a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine? Check out the DOs in your area.