American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

What is Osteopathic Medicine?

Developed more than 130 years ago by Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO, osteopathic medicine brings a unique philosophy to traditional medicine.  Osteopathic medicine focuses on the whole person, the relationship of the body’s nerves, muscles, bones and organs, and the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Osteopathic medicine is one of the fastest growing health professions, with one out of every five medical students enrolled in a college of osteopathic medicine. 

Osteopathic physicians (DOs) apply the tenets of osteopathic medicine to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness, disease and injury. Osteopathic physicians are fully trained, licensed to prescribe medicine and practice in all medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties.  

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) is a membership organization representing more than 104,000 osteopathic physicians and osteopathic medical students. Its mission is to advance the philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine by promoting excellence in education, research, and the delivery of quality, cost-effective healthcare within a distinct, unified profession. The AOA accredits all osteopathic graduate medical education programs and is responsible for developing, monitoring and enforcing training requirements, policies and procedures to ensure high quality osteopathic medical education.