Osteopathic education is an extensive, but certainly rewarding task. In order to truly understand and properly apply osteopathic methods takes the background given in a DO school. To apply the Cranial Concept takes even more training.
Osteopathy is not the rote application of a set of techniques. Quite the contrary; one must understand osteopathic philosophy, have a trained sense of touch, a working knowledge of functional anatomy, embryology (developmental anatomy), physiology, pathology, clinical medicine, and psychology. The fastest way to get this training is in osteopathic medical school. It takes hands on guidance from experienced DOs to properly teach a student and do so a time efficient manner. Clinical exposure to medical practice is needed to understand the context in which to apply manual medicine and know when it is appropriate as primary treatment, as secondary treatment, or is contraindicated.
Requirements for application to an osteopathic medical college include a background in the life sciences, a 4 year undergraduate degree (BS, BA) with a high GPA, and good Medical College Admission Test scores. Once admitted, the curriculum takes 4 years with 2 years of clinical training. Following this internship and/or residencies are required.
Residencies are available in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine for advanced training in this area, along with a large number of continuing medical education courses offered by various organizations within the profession.
DOs can be certified in manual medicine by the American Academy of Osteopathy and in osteopathy in the cranial field by The Osteopathic Cranial Academy. This requires practicing these methods for an appropriate period of time to gain proficiency and passing written, oral and practical exams.
There are non-osteopathic programs in this country to teach allied health care and nonmedical personnel limited manual medicine techniques, but this is not osteopathy or osteopathy in the cranial field. For the aforementioned reasons, training is only eligible to DOs, MDs, and students in DO or MD schools. Remember, the DO treats the whole body and not the parts. He (she) treats health and not disease. The patient and their individual structural problems are what is tantamount, not necessarily the disease present, unless it is life threatening.
There are many sources of information about Osteopathic Medical Colleges. Start with the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine which lists all the Osteopathic Colleges. Today they provide 25% of all fully licensed physicians graduating each year and it continues to grow.