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Osteopathic medicine is the practice of treating the entire person and not just one system or ailment. If you seek treatment from a doctor of osteopathy for stomach troubles, that doctor will examine your entire body to try and discern the root cause of the ailment. In order to become a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) you must undergo the same training as allopathic physicians (MDs) as well as additional training that covers the body's muscoloskeletal system. Examinations and licensure tests are also required.
The first step on the road to become a doctor of osteopathy is obtaining a post-secondary education. Pre-medicine programs or programs focused heavily on biology, chemistry, physics, math and English are required. Good grades and proficiencies are crucial — upon graduating from a four-year institution, you must then get into medical school.
Entrance into medical schools is highly competitive. Students must pass an entrance exam in order to even be considered for acceptance into a medical school. Once enrolled, students complete four years of medical school training in courses relevant to the student's chosen profession and specialty, as well as performing hands-on work in the field.
Upon completing the four years of medical school required for all doctors, a student who wishes to become a doctor of osteopathy must undergo an additional 300 to 500 hours of training to become an osteopath. This training focuses on the different systems of the body and how they work together. This training can be undertaken at a general medical school or a specific osteopathic school.
The next step on the road to become a doctor of osteopathy is a licensing examination. This ensures students have learned the material needed to treat patients in the real world. Doctors of osteopathy specializing in one area can also opt to become board certified by the governing organization for their specialty.
Doctors of osteopathy, like allopathic doctors, typically enter a residency after obtaining licensure and finishing med school. A residency typically lasts between two and six years and is akin to paid on-the-job training. A residency allows those trying to become a doctor of osteopathy to get a feel for the profession and learn more while working.
After obtaining the necessary education and licensure to become a doctor of osteopathy, you have the task of finding a job within your field. Doctors of osteopathy are found in every branch of the medical world. Some choose to work for themselves in a private practice or as one of a team of doctors at a hospital or other health care center.