About AAO

The American Academy of Osteopathy provides quality continuing medical education and advocates on behalf of its members. Recent CME course topics have included palpating the brain, learning the basics of the fascial distortion model and using 3D technology to examine human anatomy. In addition, the Academy supports research in osteopathic medicine and publishes a quarterly peer-reviewed medical journal.

The AAO is a 501c(3) nonprofit membership association focused on supporting osteopathic physicians who specialize in neuromusculoskeletal medicine and osteopathic manipulative medicine (NMM/OMM). Academy members consist of osteopathic physicians (DOs), osteopathic medical students, international clinicians and others.

The Academy was established in 1937 as the Osteopathic Manipulative Therapeutic and Clinical Research Association and was granted affiliation by the American Osteopathic Association in 1938. In 1970, the name was changed to the American Academy of Osteopathy, and in 1992 the association moved to its present location in Indiana.


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.

Watch “What Is Osteopathy?” featuring Kenneth J. Lossing, DO, the Academy’s 2014-15 president, discussing the benefits of osteopathic medicine. 

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The AAO Mission Statement

The mission of the American Academy of Osteopathy is to teach, advocate and research the science, art and philosophy of osteopathic medicine, emphasizing the integration of osteopathic principles, practice and manipulative treatment in patient care.

In March 2015, the AAO's Board of Governors adopted the following vision statement: 

All patients are aware of and have access to osteopathic medical care and osteopathic manipulative medicine for optimal health.

How can I support the AAO mission?

Join the Academydonate online, or join a committee. If you are a member, consider volunteering for a committee. In addition, follow the AAO on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and YouTube for important news and updates.

How are DOs (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) 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 as part of their integrative approach to patient care. In addition, DOs may help patients pursue lifestyle changes to reduce recurring problems.

Osteopathic Medical Education

Doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs), called osteopathic physicians, in the U.S. receive medical training very similar to their allopathic colleagues (MDs), but DOs are trained to offer additional perspectives. DOs and MDs both attend four years of medical school followed by graduate medical education through internships and residencies. Residencies are generally three to four years and prepare the physician to practice a specialty such as family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics or sports medicine.

In addition to the basic medicine curriculum, osteopathic medical students (OMS) are specially trained in the musculoskeletal system, giving them an enhanced understanding of the body’s nerves, muscles and bones. DOs and MDs both pass comparable certification exams to obtain their medical licenses, and they can practice in fully accredited and licensed health care facilities.

Disclaimer: Osteopathic clinicians who received their training outside the U.S. may not have the same credentials as physicians who attended osteopathic medical schools accredited by the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation.

Single Accreditation System

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA), American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) collaborated to create a single accreditation system for graduate medical education in the U.S. Implemented in July 2020, the system allows graduates of osteopathic and allopathic medical schools to complete their residency and/or fellowship education in ACGME-accredited programs and demonstrate achievement of common milestones and competencies. Through osteopathic-focused residency programs, the single accreditation system recognizes the unique principles and practices of the osteopathic medical profession and its contributions to health care.

Who may attend AAO educational (CME) 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 bookstore?

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 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, you may subscribe for $100 a year (individuals) or $250 a year (institutions). 



History of the American Academy of Osteopathy (AAO)


History of Osteopathic Medicine & Principles

In 1937, sixty-six physicians, concerned about ensuring the future teaching of the basic osteopathic principles set forth by Andrew Taylor Still, met and founded the organization now called The American Academy of Osteopathy (AAO).

Since that time, the Academy has grown to over 7,000 physician and student members who are dedicated to following and teaching the preventive and holistic philosophy of medicine which is osteopathy’s trademark. With an emphasis on palpatory skills in diagnosis and manual medicine, members of the Academy are known for being physicians who use their hands as well as their heads and hearts to help the body heal.

AAO Today

The American Academy of Osteopathy is an osteopathic medical society with a focused educational mission. Members are predominately osteopathic physicians (doctors of osteopathy, or DOs) and osteopathic medical students who have a high degree of interest in the art and science of osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM). The Academy welcomes membership of allopathic physicians (MDs) who share an interest in learning osteopathic philosophy, its principles and practice as it applies to patient care.

The Academy is one of 23 practice affiliates of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), the parent organization of the osteopathic profession. All osteopathic physicians (DOs) are educated in the basic principles of osteopathy and are trained in the use of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) as part of the curriculum in colleges of osteopathic medicine and postdoctoral training through AOA-approved institutions. While some Academy members specialize in osteopathic manipulative medicine, the majority integrate OMM into the practice of their medical specialty.

DOs are fully-licensed physicians in all 50 states and the U.S. Armed Forces. While osteopathic medical practice is in the mainstream of health care today, the specific delivery of osteopathic manipulative treatment continues to be misunderstood and underappreciated for its therapeutic benefits in the context of total health care management. To shift this trend, the Academy promotes the use of osteopathic manipulative medicine through its educational and research programs.



If you are invested in the future of the osteopathic profession, the AAO encourages you to get involved. Start building relationships by attending meetings of your state societies, the AAO's Convocation or the American Ostoepathic Association's annual conference. 

As 2016-17 AOA President Boyd R. Buser, DO, FACOFP, told AAO Member News, "Osteopathic associations are the only ones looking out for our interests...If you expect someone to advocate for you, you need to support them."


State associations provide their members with local resources, legislative advocacy, continuing medical education and much more. In addition, they provide excellent groundwork for understanding association governance.

Learn about the AAO Component Societies.


The AAO uses AAO Member News and social media outlets to keep members informed of issues that may affect them.

Recently, the Academy worked with the AOA's governmental affairs department to promote SaveOMT.org in response to proposed changes to a local coverage determination that would dramatically impact members in 10 states. In addition, 2016-17 AAO President Laura E. Griffin, DO, FAAO, signed a letter of support for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 on behalf of the Academy's members. 


The AAO works with the International Federation for Manual/Musculoskeletal Medicine (FIMM), the Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) to promote standardized principles around the world. 

AAO Governor Michael L. Kuchera, DO, FAAO, has served as FIMM's secretary-general since 2007, and he previously served as FIMM's vice president from 2002 to 2006. Dr. Kuchera served as the AAO's 1996-97 president.

A number of AAO members continue to be involved in international osteopathic organizations to include board positions, teaching courses, global medical support, partnerships in research and health programs.