American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

The Significance of the Osteopathic Pledge of Commitment: Advancing the Philosophy, Practice and Science of Osteopathic Medicine

By AOA Past President Norman E. Vinn, DO

What attracted you to the osteopathic medical profession? Was it a lifelong dream or a circuitous path? My original path was to pursue a career in film and theater (in between surf trips to exotic locales). However, as my desire to make lasting societal impact grew, I reflected on my father’s success. A DO, my father impacted the life of each one of his patients, due in large part to his osteopathic approach to care. Thus, I chose a new path. I became a DO and have never looked back.

I’m reminded of my path each time I recite the Osteopathic Pledge of Commitment and promise to “advance the philosophy, practice and science of osteopathic medicine.” DOs make a lasting impact on patients with the unique care we provide. That’s why it’s so important for each one of us to nurture and utilize osteopathic principles and techniques, every day, with every patient.

To me, the foundation of the osteopathic philosophy was best described by our founder, Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO: “To find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease.” DOs seek to find the potential of health for our patients, to create an environment for them to achieve and maintain that health. Using our ears to listen, our hands to treat, our minds to diagnose or our hearts to reassure, DOs deliver added value on a daily basis.

At the AOA, we are helping to advance osteopathic medicine alongside you. We are repositioning the AOA mentor program to enhance the distinctive culture of our profession and promote skills that benefit patients. Our Council of Interns and Residents is initiating a profession-wide ambassador program to help our physicians in training remain in contact with their osteopathic family and collaborate with osteopathic specialty societies and state osteopathic medical associations to encourage new DOs to become advocates of the profession. To date, 50 postdoctoral trainees have signed on.

We support and publish research evaluating the effectiveness of osteopathic medicine through our research conference, The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, and the student poster session and competition at OMED, co-hosted by our Bureau of International Osteopathic Medicine and the Student Osteopathic Medical Association. Finally, we are supporting proposed standards from the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation to enhance student exposure to osteopathic principles and practice so they can be strong DO role models.

Each of us can do our part to ensure that the legacy, the culture and the science of osteopathic medicine endures. We can mentor students. We can serve as role models for what it means to practice as an osteopathic physician, regardless of specialty. We can embrace osteopathic principles and practice in our daily thinking and approach to patient care. We can influence other members of interprofessional teams to be constantly mindful of the whole person, to create an environment in which the body can utilize its own resources to create and maintain health. 

We welcome your thoughts and input about how we can individually and collectively advance the philosophy, practice and science of osteopathic medicine. Please share your suggestions in the comments section below.


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