In the late 1800s a doctor named Andrew Taylor Still developed the field of osteopathic medicine and is considered its founder. He was a pioneering doctor in the study of how the attributes of good health could help doctors understand disease and illness.
Through his experience with patients and research, he decided there was a better way to treat patients than the medical practices of the time. Because his new ideas were not accepted in the medical community, he established a new philosophy of medicine in 1874 called "osteopathy."

Dr. Still opened the first school of osteopathic medicine, the American School of Osteopathy, in 1892 in Kirksville, Missouri. In 1897, students from the school formed the organization now call the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) to enforce educational standards for osteopathic medicine. The AOA was recognized as the accrediting body for osteopathic medical education by the U. S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare in 1952 and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation in 1967.

* For more information, visit, home of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

Philosophy of Osteopathic Medicine

Near the end of the 1800s, Dr. Still wrote a book called Philosophy of Osteopathy that helped explain why osteopathic skills are applied and why osteopathic health care is beneficial.
The new method centered on treating the body by improving its natural functions rather than using medication. The major tenets of this then new philosophy included three fundamental concepts:

  • The parts of the body make up a unified whole.

The effects of any disease are felt in varying degrees throughout the body. Therefore, the entire body can be mobilized to help combat illness. Treating specific, isolated symptoms ignores the interconnectedness of the body.

  • The body has a natural ability to self-regulate and self-heal.

Using natural treatment methods, like osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), rather than drugs alone promotes healthy body functions that are designed to battle disease and help repair injury. Preventive medicine, including good nutrition and fitness, is important for sustaining healthy body systems. Through appropriate treatment, the individual's so-called "host response" (innate healing ability) should be stimulated and maximized.

  • The musculoskeletal system is a key element in maintaining health.

This system makes up two-thirds of the body's mass and includes the bones, muscles, and cartilage. It impacts and reflects the condition of all other systems in the body (circulatory, nervous). OMM is the central element of the application of this philosophy. Doctors of osteopathy, in addition to being trained to provide standard medical care, use their hands to diagnose problems, relieve pain, restore range of motion and balance tissues and muscles in order to promote the body's own natural, healthy state.

To learn more about OMM click on the following link:

Osteopathic Factoids

  • Osteopathic medicine is one of the fastest-growing health care professions in the country. Over the past 30 years, the number of osteopathic physicians (DOs) practicing in the U.S. has more than tripled. DOs are projected to represent more than 20% of practicing physicians by 2030.1 The number of DOs in the US in 2017 was 108,118, a 68% increase since 2007.1
  • More aspiring physicians are choosing osteopathic medicine than ever before, leading to an increasingly youthful profession. In 2017, 54% of all DOs were age 45 or younger.1
  • 56% of active DOs practice in primary care specialties.1
  • The American Osteopathic Association's Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) accredits 34 osteopathic medical schools which offer instruction at 51 teaching locations. WCUCOM was the 29th College of Osteopathic Medicine.1
  • DOs represent 15% of physicians in small towns and rural areas.1
  • Each year, more than 100 million patient visits are made to DOs.1
  • As of 2017, there are over 609 DOs licensed to practice in Mississippi2.


1American Osteopathic Association (AOA)American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM)

2Mississippi Osteopathic Medical Association (MOMA)

More to Explore