Osteopathic Doctor: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a doctor of osteopathic medicine. Learn about education, job duties, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) perform the same work as Doctors of Medicine (M.D.), except they use holistic treatment methods accompanied by physical exercises and manipulation of the bones and muscles. The following chart provides an overview about becoming a doctor of osteopathic medicine.

Degree Required Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)
Training Required 3 to 8 years of residency, depending on specialty
Licensure or Certification All states require doctors to be licensed; board certification is available
Key Responsibilities Examine patients and diagnose medical conditions; provide manipulation therapy, prescribe medication and treatment; order diagnostic tests and evaluate results; counsel patients on their healthcare
Job Growth (2012-2022) 20% for all health diagnosing and treating practitioners*
Median Salary (2013) $176,530 for family and general practitioners*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What is Osteopathic Medicine?

Osteopathic medicine is a form of medical practice that focuses on manipulation of the body in order to treat and prevent illnesses and injuries. Osteopathic doctors have the same background training as medical or allopathic doctors, but they have an additional focus on holistic healing. This work often includes physical therapy and rehabilitation.

What Requirements are Needed?

In order to work in osteopathic medicine you must obtain a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree (D.O.). Some universities offer combined programs that provide a bachelor's degree and the doctor of osteopathic medicine degree. If you choose the D.O. path, you will focus on the same skills that an M.D. program teaches, including pathology, phlebotomy, neurology, diagnostics, invasive procedures, reporting, radiology, psychology and emergency medicine.

Clinical training and residencies are required for graduation or licensure. All fifty states require licensure of osteopathic doctors. Each state has its own licensure requirements, so you should visit your state's board of certification to learn the details. The National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME) provides nationally recognized COMLEX-USA exams that assess your osteopathic knowledge and clinical experience.

What Kinds of Work Will I Do?

You can work as a common medical doctor in family and internal medicine. However, your options are by no means limited to those. D.O.s commonly work in pediatrics, surgery or just about any medical specialty. You also work with people through nutrition, exercise and manipulation to promote healthy wellbeing. Being a licensed doctor, you can also prescribe drugs and diagnose afflictions and injuries.

What Can I Earn?

Since many osteopathic doctors work in their own practices, you will need to supply your own medical insurance, retirement and other benefits. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, family and general health practitioners earned a median annual salary of $176,530 in 2013.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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  • Colorado Technical University

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