About Osteopathic Medicine

A U N E student clinician examines an elderly male patientThe University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine is Maine’s only medical school and New England’s only osteopathic medical school. Our doctors – trained in Andrew Taylor Still’s philosophy of medicine that integrates the mind, body and spirit – offer a holistic approach to medicine that supports the patient's role in the healing process.

Many of our physicians specialize in the use of osteopathic manipulative techniques (OMT) along with injection therapies and other modalities to treat acute and chronic pain. We also specialize in using OMT on infants and children.

Osteopathic Philosophy

Osteopathic medicine is a contemporary school of medical thought and practice founded on the concept that the normal state of a person is health.

The philosophy of osteopathic medicine has its roots in antiquity, long before the life of its founder, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. The philosophy of Dr. Still can be directly related to the concepts and teachings of the Greek physician-philosopher Hippocrates. This "father of medicine" taught that disease is a natural process and that natural powers are the healers of disease. The physician must assist nature, Hippocrates said, but attention should be focused on the patient rather than on the disease. Dr. Still revived this concept, giving it a new meaning and implementation with a system of diagnosis and treatment that made it the cornerstone of osteopathic medicine.

What is a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy)?

If you’re like most people, you’ve been going to a doctor ever since you were born, and perhaps were not aware whether you were seeing a D.O. (osteopathic physician) or an M.D. (allopathic physician). You may not even be aware that there are two types of medical degrees awarded to physicians in the United States that lead to full medical licensure.

The fact is, that both D.O.s and M.D.s are fully qualified physicians licensed to perform surgery and prescribe medication in all 50 states.

D.O. Training

D.O.s receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system – the body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles, and bones - that makes up two-thirds of its mass. This training provides osteopathic physicians with an understanding of the way that an injury or illness in one part of the body can affect another part. It gives D.O.s a therapeutic and diagnostic advantage over physicians who do not receive this additional specialized training.

D.O. Specialty

Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) is incorporated in the training and practice of osteopathic physicians. With OMM, osteopathic physicians use their hands to diagnose illness and injury and encourage the body’s natural healing tendency toward good health. The ability to provide OMM with other medical procedures offers patients the most comprehensive health care in medicine today.

Facts About Osteopathic Physicians

  • D.O.s are one of the fastest growing segments of health care providers. Growth in the number of D.O.s is exceeding projections. Between 1989 and 1994, D.O. growth outpaced M.D. growth by almost two times. By the year 2020, over 80,000 osteopathic physicians will be in practice in the U.S.
  • More than 64% of all D.O.s practice in the primary care areas of family practice, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology and pediatrics.
  • D.O.s represent 6% of the total U.S. physician population and 8% of all military physicians.
  • D.O.s represent 15% of physicians in small towns and rural areas.
  • Each year, more than 100 million patient visits are made to D.O.s.