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Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Education

Your Ontario osteopathic physician has graduated from the most comprehensive medical education system in the world.  There are currently 37 colleges of osteopathic medicine with 58 campuses in 33 states of the United States , providing advanced medical and surgical training.  These colleges also continue to be the international leaders in the education and application of osteopathic manual therapy diagnosis and treatment.

The OOMA, Canadian Osteopathic Association(COA), and the American Osteopathic Association(AOA) represent graduates of colleges that have grown from the original college of Osteopathy first established by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in Kirksville , Missouri , in 1892. 


Within Canada and the United States, the profession has now grown to a number exceeding 140,000 osteopathic physicians, with 37 colleges enrolling 31,000 students in full time studies.  Postgraduate training is completed through ACGME residency training programs in the United States or CaRMS in Canada.

To apply to osteopathic medical school, an individual must have a university education including core requirements in chemistry, physics, biology, and biochemistry. One must also have completed and have high standing in the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

Osteopathic Education requires 4 years of full time medical education including comprehensive education in all the medical and surgical sub-specialties. Included in this education is the unique osteopathic musculoskeletal training where osteopathic physicians learn detailed soft tissue palpation and musculoskeletal assessment, as well as the use of advanced osteopathic manipulative treatment techniques. This training in osteopathic manipulative treatment may be upwards of 4000 hours of training in addition to medical school requirements.

After graduating from an osteopathic medical college, D.O's must then pursue residency training in any of the medical specialties (Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Orthopedics, Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine, Obstetrics, Radiology, Family Medicine, etc). A residency typically requires from 2 to 6 years of additional training.

To practice in Ontario, all physicians (both D.O. and M.D.) must pass national licensure examinations, complete specialty certification examinations, and then become licensed by a provincial college of physicians and surgeons.

For more on the pathway to return to Ontario to practice click here

Osteopathic Medical Training

Applicants to Osteopathic medical schools typically hold Bachelor or Masters Degrees which include the prerequisite courses required for entrance, as well as the MCAT examination.  Osteopathic medical education requires 4 years of full-time, comprehensive, and complete medical education.  Once graduated and having attained the D.O. degree (Doctor of Osteopathy) prior to being eligible to practice, the osteopathic physician must complete a further 2 to 5 years of full-time residency training in the specialty of their choosing such as internal medicine and sub-specialties, surgery and sub-specialties, orthopedics, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine, psychiatry, dermatology, pathology, family medicine, or musculoskeletal medicine (manual therapy osteopathy).  There are 18 certifying boards with 85 specialties and sub-specialties.  Upon completion of residency training, specialty certification examinations are required.  Your Canadian osteopathic physician will have typically completed 11 to 13 years of university, doctoral, and specialty training by the time they are ready for licensure and practice.

The OOMA Recommends that you Check your Practitioner's Credentials

When consulting an osteopathic practitioner, the OOMA and COA recommend that you make sure your D.O. has completed a COA/AOA approved osteopathic medical program and is registered to practice.  Please be aware that there are unqualified and non-licensed practitioners in Ontario claiming to be Osteopaths or 'Osteopathic Practitioners'.  If in doubt, the OOMA and COA recommend that you check your practitioner’s credentials and assure that they are licensed to practice by checking their credentials online or contacting the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.  Only COA/AOA recognized osteopathic graduates have the comprehensive osteopathic medical education necessary to provide thorough differential diagnosis and treatment. 

Despite a variety of business websites promoting training and certification in osteopathy within Canada, there are no government recognized or accredited colleges of osteopathy in Canada.  Only those graduates from American colleges of osteopathic medicine accredited by the Canadian and American Osteopathic Associations are eligible for licensure in Canada. 

The term osteopath is a regulated term under legislation in Ontario under the Medicine Act 1991. Only those that have graduated from an AOA accredited osteopathic medical school may consider themselves an osteopath in Ontario. All others, including those with a DOMP (Diploma in Osteopathic Manual Practice), cannot claim to be osteopaths. Please ensure that your osteopath is licensed through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

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