From Guest Blogger: Katie S.
There is general assumption in our culture that when a person needs to see a doctor, they go see a M.D. (medical doctor). Those two letters at the end of a name indicate full medical knowledge and the ability to heal. While this may be the case, there is actually another group of physicians. I’m not talking about chiropractors or psychiatrists. I’m talking about D.O.s; the letters stand for Doctor of Osteopathic medicine.
Osteopathic medicine was first created as an offshoot of traditional medical medicine, created by a student who came to the realization that they human body has an incredible capacity to self heal. Instead of researching different outside forces to promote healing, this person thought that the body itself should be understood more in order to enhance and support its own natural processes. While this might not seem quite revolutionary, it was. This concept was formed at a time when the medical community was developing one new medical procedure after the next, gaining fame and notability for their ideas. Unfortunately, the human body itself was vastly misunderstood and needed to be explored further, so that normal processes were not being treated as illnesses or diseases, but rather healthy functions supporting an overall physiology.
One of the hallmarks of this training is the whole body, holistic approach to treating a patient. It is not just the symptoms that are looked at and treated, but rather the whole person is examined and discussed with regard to lifestyles and other factors. Many who see a D.O. remark on the positive conversation and connection they feel with their doctor due to this time being taken. How often do people remark about a doctor actually taking the time to get to know them not just as a patient with a problem, but as a unique person? This approach creates a partnership between patient and physician, where they can work together to nurture and facilitate full wellbeing.
Preventative medicine is a vastly underappreciated aspect of patient care. It is often overlooked or ignored in traditional medicine circles. Thankfully, D.O.’s are taught the value of this and is used in their treatment. Their extensive, full body approach to caring for their patients aims to return the body to its natural, healthy state.
When thinking about this aspect of healthcare, it can be connected to the outside overall view of health that is shared by American culture in general. Industries thrive financially on treating people with what they feel is best for that person, creating dependence on needed to buy health rather than self actualize it. This is one of ways that has ended up placing osteopathic medicine in with natural remedy circles. Rest assured that D.O.’s receive a medical education that is just as rigorous as M.D.s and often go into specialty care. They are licensed in the same manner and are held to equal standards.
In the same vein as other society assumptions, D.O.’s tend to be misunderstood because they are not of the norm. Instead of doing what is best for a person, our culture will regulate what they feel the correct path is. With the parallels drawn, the relationship between osteopathic care and feminist thought can clearly be seen. Both work to step away from convention, focusing on what is right rather than expected. Feminism encourages the advocacy and equality of all, and in a similar endeavor so do D.O.’s with patients. They respect and honor the natural processes of the individual, healing with this at the forefront of their care.
So the next time you need to see a doctor, take the time to explore all your options. There might be more than you thought. Above all, find a physician that you feel comfortable with, who empowers you as an individual to own your health process. You deserve to be seen not simply as a patient, but a unique, valued individual.