Regulation & Licensure

As Osteopathy developed, two distinct categories evolved: Medical Osteopath and Manual Osteopath.

Medical Osteopath

In Canada and the US osteopathic medicine is a distinctive form of medical practice in both countries. Medical Doctors (MDs) and Doctors of Osteopathy (DOs) are the only two types of complete physicians in North America. They are fully trained and licensed to order any required laboratory or diagnostic procedures, prescribe medication, perform surgery, deliver babies and may utilize their training as a prerequisite to specialize in other branches of medicine. There are currently 29 accredited Osteopathic Medical Schools in the US and none in Canada. These DOs are recognized as osteopathic physicians and are the only ones legally able to call themselves osteopaths.

Manual Osteopath

Generally anyone other than Osteopaths/Osteopathic Physicians (which are only those trained in accredited American schools) refer to themselves as one or more of the following: Manual Osteopath, Osteopathic manual practitioner, Osteopathic Manual Therapist, DO (UK), DO (Aus), DO (NZ), Do (Fr), DO (MP), etc.

Manual osteopaths have advanced training in manual osteopathic practice, but they are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication or perform surgery. They assess and treat patients using an osteopathic philosophy and manual osteopathic techniques. There are schools located throughout the world, including Canada.

Manual Osteopathic Accreditation

There are numerous colleges, universities, associations and regulating bodies for Manual Osteopaths worldwide, but there is no single, specific governing body or accreditation process for all. Some countries have a nationwide governing body including Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Manual Osteopathy and its schools are not regulated in any jurisdiction in Canada, although many of the associations listed below are trying to establish standards of practice, codes of conduct and educational requirements for their members and the profession as a whole.

Students who graduate from a manual osteopathic institution have earned the right to call themselves Manual Osteopaths regardless of Association requirements.

There are many associations and some are listed below. We do not claim affiliation with any, nor have excluded any for any reason other than brevity of information.

  • Osteopathic International Alliance
  • International Osteopathic Association
  • General Osteopathic Council of Canada
  • World Osteopathic Health Organization (discontinued)
  • Canadian Federation of Manual Osteopathy
  • Society for the Manual Practice of Osteopathy (BC, Canada)
  • National Manual Osteopathic Association (Red Deer, AB)
  • Alberta Association of Osteopathic Manual Therapists
  • Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners

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