The Philosophy of Osteopathic Medicine - COM


Osteopathic medicine is a separate and distinct branch of medical practice that is based on a set of philosophic principles and stresses a comprehensive approach to the maintenance of health. The osteopathic medical education is unique in its emphasis on the neuromusculoskeletal system and its utility in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. It is the unobstructed interrelationship of all the body's systems by which we maintain health and disease is prevented. Founded in 1874 by Andrew Taylor Still, M.D. (1828-1917), osteopathic medicine makes use of the following principles that assist the osteopathic physician to look for health, and not simply treat a disease state:

  • The human body is a dynamic unit of function.
  • The human organism is self-regulating and self-healing.
  • Structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) are reciprocally interrelated.
  • The function of the musculoskeletal system goes beyond support and may be vital in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Dr. Still's philosophy of health care and his world view resulted in the introduction of some revolutionary concepts for his time:

  • The role of the physician is to seek the health of patients, not simply to treat disease or symptoms.
  • The human organism continually strives toward health, and disease is a disruption of this process.
  • Disease in any body system will affect the entire body.
  • The work of the physician includes assisting the patient's own body in fighting disease.
  • All qualified individuals, regardless of race or sex, should be given the opportunity to become a physician. (His was the first medical school of any type to have an anti-discrimination policy, which it had from its beginning.)