Frequently Asked Questions

What is osteopathic medicine?

Osteopathic medicine is a patient-focused approach to health care that takes into account every aspect of the patient, including his or her physical, personal, and spiritual well-being. Developed more than 130 years ago by Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO, osteopathic medicine brings a unique philosophy to traditional patient care. Understanding that the body is more than just a sum of its parts, osteopathic physicians (DOs) assist the patient’s innate capacity to heal by addressing the interrelationship of the body’s nerves, muscles, bones and organs. Osteopathic physicians are licensed to prescribe medicine and practice in all medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties.

How are DOs (osteopathic physicians) and MDs (allopathic physicians) different?

While DOs and MDs have very similar educational and experience requirements, including four years of medical school and three to four years of residency, DOs are trained to emphasize whole body health. They may use a system of hands-on diagnosis and treatment called osteopathic manipulation to correct dysfunctions and relieve symptoms rather than prescribing pharmaceuticals. In addition, DOs may help patients pursue lifestyle changes to reduce recurring problems.

Who may attend AAO educational courses?

All health care professionals and students are invited to attend AAO courses. Some courses require prerequisites and may not be appropriate for newcomers to osteopathic medicine. Academy members receive special pricing.

Who may purchase books in the online store?

Anyone can purchase books in the AAO’s online store. The AAO is not responsible for any loss or injury and/or damage to persons or property arising out of or related to any use of the materials available in the online store.

How can I support the AAO’s mission?

Join the Academy or donate online. If you are a member, consider volunteering for a committee. In addition, follow the AAO on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube for important news and updates.

How do I subscribe to The AAO Journal?

The AAO Journal is emailed to all AAO members as a member benefit. If you are not a member but wish to subscribe to the journal, contact AAO Communications Specialist Lauren Good.

How can I be included in the AAO's Find a Physician Search?

All Academy physicians in practice may be included in the AAO's Find a Physician search. To ensure your listing appears in the search results, follow the steps below:

  1. Log in to your profile at
  2. Click on Edit Profile.
  3. On the Contact Info tab, enter your business information as your Primary Address and select the Show in Search check box. To ensure the business phone number appears in the listing, check the Searchable box (on the right).
  4. On the Employment Info tab, specify your primary and secondary specialties.
  5. On the Privacy tab, change the setting for Basic Information to Public.
  6. Click Save All Changes.


AAO Response Regarding Larry Nassar

Osteopathic physicians are trained to utilize osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) in the care of their patients. OMT offers an effective and nonpharmacologic option to treat a wide range of conditions, from common musculoskeletal disorders, such as low back and neck pain, to improving outcomes for elderly hospitalized patients admitted for pneumonia.

Giving Tuesday: Nov. 28

Giving Tuesday was celebrated for the first time in 2012. We encourage you to make your Giving Tuesday plans in the spirit of thankfulness that sometimes gets buried by the holiday advertising.

AAO Loses Past President Robert E. Kappler, DO, FAAODist, FCA

AAO life member Robert E. Kappler, DO, FAAODist, of River Grove, Illinois, died Oct. 18. Dr. Kappler was the 1980-81 president of the Academy, and he was a recipient of the AAO’s Andrew Taylor Still Medallion of Honor and the FAAO’s Distinguished Service Award.