American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

How Are DOs Licensed?

​Osteopathic physicians (DOs) are licensed to practice medicine in the United States by licensing boards in each state. Requirements for licensure vary by state, but there are generally three ways a DO can become licensed to practice medicine:

  1. Successful completion of a medical licensing examination administered by the state licensing board. State boards may prepare their own examination or administer an examination that has been prepared and purchased from a specialized agency.

  2. Acceptance of the certificate issued by the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME), awarded after an applicant has satisfied the requirements, including the successful passage of a rigorous series of tests.

  3. Reciprocity or endorsement of a license previously received from another state. The license presented for reciprocity or endorsement usually must have been issued on the basis of a written examination.

Although a physician may satisfy the basic licensing requirements for a state, this does not guarantee licensure. State licensing boards look at each applicant on an individual basis. They verify the information given and look into the moral character of the applicant.