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What is a DO?

DOs with a patient

A Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) is a fully licensed physician with additional training in osteopathic palpatory diagnosis and manipulative treatment.

A DO prescribes medicine and is qualified to practice in all branches of medicine and surgery. Osteopathic physicians emphasize that all body systems operate in unison, and that disturbance in one system can alter the function of the other systems in the body. The osteopathic physician uses manipulative techniques, as well as traditional diagnostic and therapeutic procedures to diagnose and treat dysfunction in the body.

Read more about osteopathic medicine.

Osteopathic Pledge of Commitment

As members of the Osteopathic medical profession, and in an effort to instill loyalty and strengthen the profession, we recall the tenets on which this profession is founded — the dynamic interaction of mind, body and spirit; the body’s ability to heal itself; the primary role of the musculoskeletal system; and preventative medicine as the key to maintain health.  We recognize the work our precessors have accomplished in building the profession, and we commit ourselves to continuing that work.

I pledge to:

  • Provide compassionate, quality care to my patients
  • Partner with them to promote health;
  • Display integrity and professionalism throughout my career;
  • Advance the philosophy, practice and science of Osteopathic Medicine;
  • Continue life-long learning;
  • Support my profession with loyalty and action, word and deed; and
  • Live each day as an example of what osteopathic physicians should be.

By Dr. Norman Vinn, Past AOA President

Our profession has a proud 139-year legacy of humanism, service, innovation, and collegiality.  Wherever we are in the world, as students or as practitioners, we know that we are different.  We are a family, with shared skills, values, philosophy, and culture.  Beyond our unique osteopathic skills, our thinking is equally important, including our emphasis on the Whole patient, and in the ability of the body to heal itself.   We do not hesitate to touch our patients, and offer the D.O. Hug to our colleagues, demonstrating the essence of our compassion, our collegiality, and the healing power of our hands.

Our patients also know we are different, which is why we have been a valued resource for uniquely osteopathic care for over 100 years. As we diffuse to all corners of the US, and indeed, the world, it is crucial that we not forget our roots, our legacy and our osteopathic family. It is important to stay involved, and in touch, and to pay forward our blessings, creating continued opportunities for our colleagues and for those who someday will follow in our footsteps.

By Dr. Ray E. Stowers, Past AOA President

There are two fully licensed physicians in the United States. They are MDs and DOs. Both are licensed to practice the full scope of medicine in all 50 states and in all hospitals and institutions. Both practice all medical specialties from family practice to open-heart surgery but DOs have an emphasis on primary care. The osteopathic physicians are unique though in that they have additional training to look at the person as a whole with an emphasis on preventive medicine and the body’s ability to heal itself. DOs have additional training to do manipulation as an extra tool to help the patient. Osteopathic medicine is the fastest growing medical profession in the world.