How to Become an Osteopath

If you are considering becoming an osteopath yourself then you need to be aware that becoming an osteopath involves a large amount of hard work and dedication. In the UK you need to undertake a degree course that is recognised by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) and a privy council in order to practise as an Osteopath. This is because the Osteopathic profession is regulated by statute in order to protect your future patients.

Degree Courses in Osteopathy

There are a number of different ways that you can study for an approved osteopathy course:

  • Full time
  • Part time
  • Accelerated (for graduates and health care professionals)
  • Access course

To find a course that best suits you; you should visit the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) website which has a list of the institutions that currently run accredited degrees in osteopathy. At the time of writing the institutions offering recognised degrees are:

  • The British College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • The British School of Osteopathy
  • College of Osteopaths validated by Middlesex University
  • College of Osteopaths validated by Keele University
  • European School of Osteopathy
  • Leeds Metropolitan University
  • London College of Osteopathic Medicine (for qualified doctors only)
  • London School of Osteopathy
  • Oxford Brookes University
  • Surrey Institute of Osteopathic Medicine

Note that the course offered at the London College of Osteopathic Medicine requires you to be a qualified doctor (with a BMBS or equivalent). This institute allows medical doctors to become registered as osteopaths or to do shorter courses to teach them skills in osteopathic technique for the benefit of their patients.

You will find that some institutions offer 4 year courses leading to Bachelor’s degrees (BSc (Hons) Osteopathic medicine and BOst (Hons)) whilst others offer Master’s level courses (MOst (Hons)). The entry requirements for the degree courses in osteopathy are very wide ranging as a large number of people choose to undertake a degree in osteopathy in order to change careers later in life and therefore enter the degree as mature students with non-standard educational backgrounds. Whatever your background, it would be worth discussing your current level of qualifications with the institution (University or college) or your choice to check that you fulfil the entry criteria. If you do not have the qualification level that they require, you may wish to carry out an access course. Access courses are usually one year long and will bring you up to the standard required for you to apply for a recognised osteopathy degree.

What You Will Learn During Your Degree in Osteopathy

The Osteopathy degree courses concentrate on anatomy (the structure of the human body), physiology (how the human body functions) and pathology (what happens when the body becomes diseased or injured).  You will learn a variety of practical methods including manipulation techniques and massage as well as developing communications skills that will allow you to relate with your patients in a professional and effective manner. Your degree will tie together these practical skills with the more scientific subjects of anatomy, physiology and pathology in a way that teaches you diagnostic methods and will allow you to pick up clues to help you recognise certain conditions and problems that your patients may present with.  You will also be taught about basic pharmacology (how drugs affect the human body), nutrition and biomechanics that will all help you to develop into a fully trained osteopath.

Requirement of Registration with General Osteopathic Council (GOsC)

In order to legally practise as an osteopath, in the United Kingdom you need to be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (which is why you have to undertake an accredited training course). They require a number of points of to fulfill in order for you to become registered and practise as an osteopath:

  • You will have to be covered by professional indemnity insurance to ensure that any harm caused to any of your patients can be fully compensated.
  • You will have to undergo a criminal records bureau (CRB) check to ensure that you are safe to work with children and vulnerable adults
  • You will need to be judged to be “fit to practise”. This means that your state of (mental and physical) health must be good enough to ensure that you are able to practise osteopathy to the required standard without putting yourself or your patients at risk.

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