American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

The Significance of the Osteopathic Pledge of Commitment: Partnering with Patients to Promote Health

​By AOA Past President Norman E. Vinn, DO

When Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO, founded our profession in 1874, he established it because he wanted to offer a new approach to medicine—a better option focused on health and wellness. Although his approach wasn’t welcome at the time, largely because of its new philosophy, things have since changed.

Today’s patients demand a higher level of care. They place prevention and wellness at the top of their priority lists when it comes to their health. And they want physicians to see them as partners when it comes to their medical care.

Earlier this year, the AOA participated in the Institutes of Medicine’s Partnering for Patients Workshop. Attendees talked about patients wanting to be fully informed and engaged in the decision-making process about the care they receive. They agreed that informed discussions about patients’ health calls for patients to ask questions and for physicians to listen.

This need for physicians to listen to patients’ concerns echoes our DO philosophy, which calls upon each one of us to treat people, not just symptoms. When you view patients as people, it’s much easier to nurture the physician-patient relationship, to begin building and cultivating this partnership, to encourage the volley of questions and, most importantly, to listen. In my own area of residentialist housecall practice, we partner on a daily basis with the frail, elderly population and their families. We embrace the osteopathic philosophy of humanism and compassion, and look at the whole patient. Besides addressing medical issues, we evaluate nutrition status, physical and safety issues, awareness of disease and prognosis, mental status, pain and caregiver issues. Wherever possible, we create awareness among patients and families of their roles in promoting a safe, nurturing and secure environment that will enable their loved ones—our patients—to achieve optimal health status and quality of life.  

Tell me how you partner with patients to promote health by sharing your experiences in the comments section below.


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