The way forward for Osteopathy?

If you read my article in Osteopathy Today Nov/Dec edition or the previous post you will know that I am a strong advocate of celebrating our unity in osteopathy.  I believe that united we can put forward a compelling ‘case’ for osteopathy.

As a profession we are easily distracted by differences in techniques and issues that are of no consequence to the patients we desire to help.  Osteopathy Today had some excellent articles on this subject, particularly the interview with Stuart Korth, Renzo Molinari and Laurie Hartman and a piece by Mia Lederman.  I will draw out and discuss some parts that particularly struck me but I recommend that you read and digest the articles for yourself as I am sure you will find other aspects stand out to you.

So, some words of wisdom from some very experienced osteopaths:

“I don’t see any difference in what anybody does because we are relying on the bodies healing ability, we just have a particular way of looking at it because we are osteopaths” – Stuart Korth

“…it is what the profession has done to be recognised – concentrate on the application and not on osteopathy” – Renzo Molinari

Is osteopathy becoming endangered? 

Whilst encouraging unity within the profession and being prime examples of united practitioners despite diverse approaches Laurie, Stuart and Renzo each warn against the dangers of unity with other professions as a threat which could lead to the extinction of osteopathy:

“I would like to see an autonomous profession which continues with its principles and gets better at what it does and works in harmony with the establishment and is accepted on an equal footing but not because it has cow-towed but because it is respected for what it does.  I think osteopathy is actually part of what medicine should become.” – Stuart

“We are not on the side-line, we are not complementary we are part of it (medicine).  For me, in 50 years time, I hope there will be an independent profession called osteopathy working on the principles of osteopathy as they have been defined and not people trying to look like doctors.”  – Renzo

“It’s mostly about stopping the move towards officialdom.  We are going to lose there.  We have got to be a separate profession.” – Laurie

It is worth noting that the number of graduates of osteopathy is expected to decrease in the next few years as current cohorts of students are significantly less in number.  The GOsC recently celebrated passing the 5000 mark for the number of registrants but perhaps that was a peak with fewer graduates expected and an aging population of osteopaths.

There is not only a danger from losing our identity as a profession but also becoming a smaller and less significant voice in the vast world of healthcare.

 Preservation and Promotion 

It was greatly encouraging to read the united voice of three very different osteopaths and this is an example to us all.  Mia Lederman was issuing a clarion call to the profession to unite and act together:

“We are partially gagged, because we have not worked out how to get our message over in a consistent and clear way, not because we are making false claims, or trying to be misleading.  We are part of an elite group of regulated health professionals, which does limit us and mean we have to stand up to scrutiny.  So we must simply stand up.  Together.”   – Mia Lederman

“Comparing osteopathic techniques and trying to gain recognition at the expense of other osteopathic colleagues is a slippery slope to the bottom.  It’s childish, frankly. “

“We osteopaths need to value each other, to buy in to our principles, to believe in osteopathy in its roundest sense, and shout about it together.”

There was also a good point from the anonymous author of the Osteopathic Principles article:

“Only osteopaths are concerned and frustrated by the concept of our principles.  GPs are more interested in whether osteopathy is safe and effective, what the patients experience is and whether is will save them money.” – Osteopathic principles, anon

 The way ahead… 

There are several positives that come out of these articles and many questions…

Osteopathy is safe and effective and we need to be making sure everyone knows – together as a profession.

The PROMs tool developed by NCOR will help us a profession to gather a significant volume of data to demonstrate the effectiveness of osteopathy.  Let’s try to get as many practices as possible using the app.

Together, united – these phrases are echoed throughout these articles.  How can we come together as a profession?  How can we be united in promoting osteopathy?

Is it time to have a working group specifically for the promotion of the profession?  Would practitioners be willing to contribute towards such a group – both in time and financially?  Maybe the profession needs to collectively hire a PR and marketing service?

What do you think is the way forward? – share your views below or contact me directly –

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