Osteopathic Principles and Practice (OPP)

Osteopathic Principles and Practice (OPP)

The courses regarding osteopathic principles, practice, and treatment may be viewed as one longitudinal curriculum spanning over four years divided into semesters and subdivided into four phases. All OPP courses include didactic presentations, demonstrations, practical laboratory experiences and hands-on clinical opportunities utilizing other students as well as real and standardized patients, to establish the student’s knowledge and ability to recognize and utilize the relationship between structure and function that is integral to Osteopathic Medicine.  The student must meet all of the health and technical requirements described elsewhere in this manual to be successful in the study and practice of Osteopathic Medicine.

During the first two years, each student will examine, through observation and palpation, and under the guidance and supervision of clinical faculty, a variety of other students and individuals representing the diversity of genders and body types they will encounter in clinical practice to stimulate their development of the diagnostic and palpatory skills needed as an Osteopathic physician. Being palpated by other students is necessary for the student to obtain a proper understanding of correct technique and to acquire an understanding from the patient’s perspective.  Additionally, this experience provides an educational environment enabling the students to provide feedback to their training partners as part of the cooperative, active-learning environment required by ARCOM, thus enhancing the palpatory skills of all students.

The osteopathic medical profession uses five practice principles and a variety of treatment models. Through the skills development process, the student learns the art and skills of manipulative treatment pertaining to these models. Psychomotor skills are developed and reinforced by repeated practice. Reading and observation, while beneficial, do not develop the skills required to perform palpatory diagnosis and manipulative treatment. Each student is required to actively participate in all skills-development laboratory sessions and all testing encounters. These skills are refined by treating, and being treated by, a cadre of students and other individuals of both genders and with varying body types and require the student to both visualize and touch other individuals. Involvement ensures that the student has the opportunity to acquire the required skills and provide their peers the same opportunities and rights. Each semester concentrates on the osteopathic approach for prevention and wellness along with teaching the student how to diagnose and treat acute and chronic disease related to the systems they are studying. The student will be expected to acquire the knowledge of structure and function, and wellness and disease that is applicable to the practice of the profession. Students are also expected to develop and be able to demonstrate competency in the observation, palpation, diagnostic, and treatment of patients with both normal and abnormal conditions at a level required by a graduate osteopathic physician.

It should be noted that the pre-clinical curriculum is synchronized with the first three phases of the Biomedical Essentials of Comprehensive Osteopathic Medicine (BECOM) and Fundamentals of Osteopathic Patient Care (FOPC) courses.

Beginning early in the first semester of the first year, the student will be exposed to the history of the profession, vocabulary, osteopathic principles, and tissue palpation skills development (Phase One). This course will deliver the foundational knowledge upon which all additional osteopathic studies will be built. After the student has demonstrated a sound knowledge of the foundational principles, the student will then begin their instruction in the biomechanical diagnosis and functional anatomy of the human body. Likewise, the student will advance their palpation skills to be able to diagnose and treat the human system from a biomechanical perspective as the student advances through the body systems for their first time in osteopathic medical training (Phase Two).

During the OMS-II year, the student is once again exposed to the various systems of the human body; however, at this time, the students will build upon their biomechanical knowledge gained during the first year and learn how to apply these skills to influence the body from a physiologic perspective. The educational goal of the second year is to teach the student how to support the homeostatic process of the body, remove obstructions to health, and help foster an environment, which is optimal for the healing and self-regulating processes of the body to recover from disease. Furthermore, the student will begin to understand that there are multiple ways to influence homeostasis and healing within the patient and manipulation, when integrated with all other standard methods of disease management, may play a role in helping to provide the patient with the best chance for recovery (Phase Three).

Lastly, through hands-on review lab sessions, online modules, and face-to-face contact with faculty and preceptors, students will be expected to carry, review, and apply their knowledge and treatment skills during their third and fourth years of training. Students will be expected (with the exception of their psychiatry rotation) to treat and log a minimum of five patients and perform at least ten osteopathic structural examinations during each of their core rotations (Phase 4). Further explanation of this process is outlined in the clinical years’ curriculum in the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine Clinical Training Manual for OMS-III and OMS- IV Students.