What Level of Osteopathic Education Should I Be Looking For?

Posted on: Mar 10, 2014 by admin | 119 Comments

We get many inquiries about osteopathic education in Canada.  At present osteopathic therapy isn’t regulated and schools vary from 4 years full-time to 9 months part-time.   Why such a variation?  Most of this discrepancy can be attributed to the WHO benchmarks in osteopathic education that were published in 2010.  They were reasonably clear when it came to full-time education, but vague when it came to part-time.  This means that a school can provide a very short course that is short on practical training and research and still claim to meet the standards.  In order to get a good education we encourage people to get a global understanding on the present state of osteopathy and choose an education that will stand up to regulation when it happens in Canada.  The Osteopathic International Alliance (http://wp.oialliance.org/) provides a great resource in the following document which I recommend every would be student should read:

Osteopathy and Osteopathic Medicine: A Global View of Practice, Patients, Education and the Contribution to Healthcare Delivery

In addition, the International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine recently published a paper entitled, “Osteopathic student satisfaction and preparedness to practice: A comparative study “.


The introduction provides a snap shot of osteopathic education in France, Italy and the UK.  These European countries  act as a good yard stick by which to measure Canadian Education.  You can read the introduction here and see how the schools you are researching stack up:


A short history of osteopathy in Europe

In 1892, Andrew Taylor Still, founded the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri. In turn, John Martin Littlejohn, himself a pupil of A. T. Still, founded The British School of Osteop- athy (BSO) in London in 1917. The BSO was the first osteopathic school outside of the USA, but over the following decades, as osteopathy developed, schools were established across Europe. In 1923, Major Stirling introduced the osteopathic concepts to a group of medical doctors in France and the first school of osteopathy in Paris, Ecole Europe- enne d’Osteopathie, was opened in 1951 by Paul Geny, although it moved to London in 1965.1 In 1981 a French osteopath, Alain Bernard, intro- duced osteopathy to Italy and in 1983 Eddy Deforest, ran the first Italian course in osteopathy in Ancona.2

Regulation in UK, Italy and France

Today, osteopathy is practised in 22 nations across Europe, each with their own regulatory authority for practice. Each country is currently at various stages of regulation and recognition.3

The United Kingdom (UK) was the first country in Europe where osteopathy was recognized as a profession, finally being granted formal recogni- tion by Parliament in the 1993 Osteopaths Act.4 This statute is essential to the osteopathic pro- fession providing it with the same legal framework of statutory self-regulation as other healthcare professions. Courses of osteopathy have been fully integrated into the university system enabling graduates to obtain a Master or Bachelor of Oste- opathy, or Osteopathic Medicine degree, (M.Ost or B.Ost) or a Bachelor of Science (BSc, BSc Hons) in Osteopathy or Osteopathic Medicine, depending on the institution attended.5 These courses, currently provided by 10 institutions, have a duration of four years full-time or five years part-time.

In Italy, osteopathy is not recognized as a healthcare profession. The Italian Register of Os- teopaths has regulated the profession since 1989 and controls the quality of teaching in eleven full-

time and eighteen part-time schools. Six year part- time courses are only available to students who have a previous bachelor degree in sports science, massage therapy, medicine or physiotherapy but full-time schools can be attended by any student with a high school degree where the course is five years in duration.6 Graduates of both courses obtain a Diploma of Osteopathy (DO).

In France, osteopathy was recognized by the National Parliament in 20027 and teaching and practice have been regulated since 2007.8 There are sixty-four schools that are authorized to issue diplomas in osteopathy, twenty eight of which are full-time and thirty six are part-time.9 Full-time schools can be attended by any students who have graduated from high school and the course is six years in duration. Part-time schools can be attended by physiotherapists and General Practi- tioners (GP) and the course has a duration of four years. As with Italian courses, graduates obtain a DO.



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