Osteopathy: why?

Many people have never heard of Osteopathy. It is a system of alternative and complementary medicine developed by Andrew Taylor Still in 1874. This modality emphasizes the interrelated structure and function of the human body, and the body’s innate wisdom to heal itself.

In the United States, Osteopathic education means going to medical school, where students are trained in every aspect of allopathic care, as well as additional classes in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) and obtain the license of doctor of osteopathy, or D.O. which is equivalent to an M.D. license.

In many other countries, including England, osteopathy is so different, practitioners would be justified to consider themselves in a different profession. These practitioners are manual osteopaths, treating the body solely hands-on, without the use of prescription medication or surgery. They typically use a combination of techniques within a treatment, including structural, cranial, visceral, muscle energy, and functional techniques, and others.

In high school I knew I wanted to work in health care. From my vantage point at the time that looked like medical school. In the intervening years I’ve spent much time and energy to narrow my focus, through interviewing, shadowing, working, and taking classes. Each experience was instructive and helped me to evolve my focus. In the process I considered family practice, internal medicine, obgyn, anesthesiology, nursing, physical therapy, orthopedics, chiropractic, acupuncture, naturopathy, homeopathy, and speech language pathology. It was in my senior year as an undergrad that I first heard the term osteopathy, which was intriguing, but it was still a couple of years before I met someone who practices in the European style. From that first day I was hooked.

Since then I’ve had the good fortune (gosh I’m lucky!) to spend many hours working hands-on, 1-on-1 with my teacher and mentor Jeffrey Burch, in functional methods class with a small group of talented manual therapists, as well as getting licensed as a chiropractic assistant and doing pre-treatment massage, hydrotherapy, and electrotherapy. The opportunity to develop my touch in many arenas has been an incredible gift and I anticipate the opportunities ahead with eagerness and wonder.


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